While We Were Out

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst gestures toward Senate Democrats as they leave the chamber to caucus on Sunday afternoon May 29, 2011.
Lt. Governor David Dewhurst gestures toward Senate Democrats as they leave the chamber to caucus on Sunday afternoon May 29, 2011.

Maybe it's the heat. Or redistricting. Or maybe Gov. Rick Perry's political hyperactivity is contagious. Whatever it is, candidates are popping up like it was Labor Day.

After we closed for two weeks in mid-July, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst shocked nobody, declaring for the U.S. Senate seat he's been thinking about since Kay Bailey Hutchison's January announcement that she won't be be coming back for another term. Dewhurst popped out a video for supporters and let the media play catch-up.

Before the pixels had gone cold from that announcement, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said he'll run for lieutenant governor in 2014, presumably two years after Dewhurst leaves for Washington or goes home, having lost the Senate contest.

Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, who's looking at that same race — he said in April he was "exploring" it. Exploring doesn't have the same legal status in Texas law that it has in federal law. Here, it's just a bit of rhetoric; there, it's a particular type of campaign. a few days after the Dewhurst rollout, Staples fired off a letter to Comptroller Susan Combs (and to the media) questioning her changing position on abortion and asking pointed questions about the data leak at her agency last spring, when they found they'd left personal information about 3.5 million current and former school and state employees in a public spot. Combs hasn't said for sure that she'll run for Lite Guv, but she's got the most money. Staples letter was seen by some as an attempt to make the finance folks hesitate before writing her any more checks.

About that change in abortion positions. Combs is now against it in all cases except for rape, incest and the life of the mother. Here she is in her own words: "If people are having abortions because they're not taking personal responsibility, I find that just morally repugnant. It has reached such incredible numbers. I have been looking at studies and data and reading books and it is stunning to me. I say this with all seriousness. It is stunning to me that we are at the point in this country where in 2011, you have incredibly high numbers of women choosing to abort rather than have a baby or to have avoided the problem in the first place. So I am unequivocal about it. I was wrong and it's 20 years later, and I feel very strongly about it."