Monday, April 14, 2008

A Texas SD 17 Special Election Before November? Don't Count On It

Now you would think that with State Senator Kyle Janek stepping down before the end of his term we would be having a bunch of candidates coming out of the woodwork to vie in a non-partisan special election to fill the empty seat.

And in that you would not be wrong. Trouble is, the fix is in and I wonder if anyone is going to be giving up their State House seats to gamble on a 3-way or 4-way election in a race against Janek’s “anointed one”: Austen Furse.

Oh, you say you don’t know who Austen Furse is? No matter. According to this piece in the Chron you don’t need to know, because he has been hand-picked by Kyle Janek to be his successor.

Who is Austen Furse? Well, first, the guy has never held political office. He’s a Harris County-based businessman with connections to local politics. As a whippersnapper right out of Yale, Furse served as a director of White House policy planning in the Bush-41 presidency.

All of that and he has another thing going for him: he doesn’t have to give up his current job to run for this seat.

See, while Kyle Janek has known about his impending exit for some time now, he hasn’t actually handed in his resignation to Rick Perry, and won’t. Originally he was going to resign by March 10th, allowing Perry to replace him during the next regularly scheduled election day, on May 10th.

But no.

If that happened the floodgates would have opened and we would have seen a veritable multitude assemble to take the spot. No, because you see, people are starting to wonder whether SD 17 is as rock solid Republican as it has been. According to the Chron:
“Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama received more votes in this year's primary than Janek received in his general election victories in either 2002 or 2006, non-presidential years.”
No, what you want to do, then, to guarantee a Republican win in SD 17 in a special election is to limit the challengers, and what better way to do that than to put off the special election until November, when State Representatives are all running for re-election? At least two State Reps whose district boundaries overlap SD 17’s were looking at this. One is Sugar Land’s Charlie Howard (R – HD 26), the other is Houston’s Scott Hochberg (D- HD 137). State law forbids a person from appearing twice on the same ballot for the same election on the same day. Both Hochberg and Howard would have to give up their seats to run in the special election.

Furse doesn’t have that problem.

So if anyone was wondering about the change-up we saw last February, and what would cause that, now we have our answer.

Now that appears to be the ploy. It makes you wonder, though if this seat coming available is just too good to pass up.

Scott Hochberg, the only Democrat currently rumored to be considering this race is still weighing his options. While the presidential primary numbers impress, Hochberg is more impressed by the recent showing for Democratic Supreme Court candidate Bill Moody:

“Hochberg said that statistic is less convincing to him that the district is trending Democratic than the fact that Texas Supreme Court candidate Bill Moody got 46 percent in the district with no Democratic get-out-the-vote effort.”
Makes you think, doesn’t it? Will Furse get opposition from Charlie Howard? I can think of a few who will absolutely rejoice at that. Will those two fight over the dwindling Republican vote in SD 17 letting Hochberg take the Democratic vote plus independents to win?

Seems like a better plan.

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