The thinking goes like this: U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison resigns to run for governor. State Sen. Florence Shapiro runs for Hutchison's seat. State Rep. Ken Paxton runs for Shapiro's seat. Various Collin County figures vie for Paxton's seat. And so on.
If politics is sometimes a game of musical chairs, then this is the quiet moment before the song starts.
A series of public offices statewide is expected to come open should Hutchison give up her Senate seat to run for governor. That includes North Texas, where potential vacancies left by longtime incumbents such as Shapiro could spark a free-for-all.
Hutchison, who is campaigning against GOP incumbent Rick Perry, has kept her ultimate strategy a secret. The Republican has said she intends to resign her current post as soon as next month, triggering a special election. But whether she will follow through on that is unclear.
Observers say her resignation would probably set off a political chain reaction that could affect offices statewide both large and small.
"There's one change at the top and everything is affected by it," said Shapiro, R-Plano, who has raised about $1 million so far for a possible U.S. Senate bid.
In virtually every corner of the state, coveted political offices that have been filled for years could become vacant as incumbents seek greener pastures.
I talk to more and more Republicans who are getting very grumpy not knowing what Kay's plans are... it all hinges on whether she resigns or not... she gave the strong impression for a long time that she was resigning in October or November of 2009, but now she is giving the impression that she may not resign at all.
Texas on the Potomac blogs about this topic too (link). Excerpt follows...
There was new evidence last week that Texas Republican officeholders doubt Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's resolve to resign her seat to campaign full time in the Republican primary to unseat Gov. Rick Perry.
Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst would like to run for Hutchison's seat should she resign. In that circumstance, Attorney General Greg Abbott would like to seek Dewhurst's seat. Both are officially seeking reelection, but would shift races if the opportunity emerges. As incumbents with statewide name identification, they can make the shift more easily than district-level officeholders who would need to build a statewide identity to win higher office.
Last week, Republican State Rep. Dan Branch announced that he would seek re-election rather than run for Texas attorney general. His candidacy for attorney general was premised on a domino effect from Hutchison's resignation resulting Abbott's leaving that post.
Cartoon by John Branch of the San Antonio Express-News
With one month to go before filing opens, Branch decided to seek re-election to his current post instead of campaigning for an office that may not be open. Several Republicans who had begun campaigns for Branch's seat are expected to give up that ambition.
A lot of people just want a straight answer so they can plan their lives.