President George H.W. Bush endorsed former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams on Monday in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) in 2012, the Associated Press reported.
“I wanted to get on board early,” Bush said of the Republican at a news conference in Houston. “I just know he can do this job.”
Williams first began his campaign in January 2009, when Hutchison was running for governor. However, she lost the GOP primary to incumbent Gov. Rick Perry and decided to fill out the remainder of her six-year Senate term. She said Thursday that she would not seek re-election to the seat, which she has held since 1993.
Roger Williams is a small-business man and was appointed secretary of state in 2005. Considered a top fundraiser in the state, he’s worked on several campaigns for President George W. Bush and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Several other Republicans have their eyes on the Senate. Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R) said he was considering running for Hutchison’s seat hours after she announced her retirement.
Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams (R) is also expected to enter the race. “People get ready!” he posted Monday on his Twitter account, the AP reported.
Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert (R) said Monday that he will not seek re-election but did not specify his political plans. If he were to announce his Senate candidacy, he would be forced to resign as mayor before his term ends in June.
Leppert’s name has been included in lists of possible GOP Senate contenders, in addition to Rep. Joe Barton and Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones.
Barton spokesman Sean Brown told Roll Call that the 14-term Congressman is considering a bid. Barton ran against Hutchison in a 1993 special Senate election, finishing third behind Hutchison and Democrat Bob Krueger.
Former state Comptroller John Sharp, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk of Dallas and 2010 gubernatorial nominee Bill White have been floated as possible candidates on the Democratic side. White said Thursday he will not run.
Kyle Trygstad contributed to this report.