Texas: Hutchison Exit Likely to Set Up Nov. 2010 Special

Posted November 16, 2009 at 6:14pm

By delaying her resignation until after she competes in a gubernatorial primary next March, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) is also putting on hold the political plans of would-be successors who have long prepared to run in a special election.

Hutchison on Saturday told a gathering of Texas Republican women that she will step down sometime next year, regardless of the outcome of her challenge to Gov. Rick Perry (R).

Hutchison said this summer that she would resign in October or November, though she backed away from that plan and said she wants to stay in Washington to oppose the Obama administration’s agenda.

Texas election law calls for a speedy special election in the event of a Senate vacancy, and candidates have been campaigning for months and raising millions of dollars with the expectation that the seat would soon be vacant.

Had Hutchison stuck to her original plan and resigned this fall, the special election would have been held May 8 — unless Perry invoked emergency powers under state law to choose a different election date.

That election — a single-ballot, all-candidate affair that would require a runoff election if no candidate wins a majority ­— could still be held in early May if Hutchison resigns on or before April 2, a month after the March 2 gubernatorial primary. The next possible date for a special election is Nov. 2, the same date as the national midterm elections.