Delete Michael McCaul from your calculations about the U.S. Senate — after several weeks of thinking it over, he announced he won't seek the seat left open by U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's retirement. That's good news for the rest of that pack. With large numbers of undecided voters and McCaul's built-in treasury (his father in law is Lowry Mays of San Antonio, who made a fortune with Clear Channel Communications), McCaul could have made it more interesting than the competition might like. But after looking at it for a few weeks, he blinked.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who has been elected statewide four times and is also sitting on a personal fortune, is the presumptive favorite. Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert has as much in his campaign coffer as Dewhurst, but is in his first statewide race. Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones is a statewide elected official, but she's got a puny campaign account, especially for a statewide race. Ted Cruz, the state's former solicitor general, is in his first election and is in between, with less money than Dewhurst and Leppert and more than Jones. He's trying to build his campaign on grassroots enthusiasm, with significant success.
That's one of the things that prompted the retooling in the Dewhurst campaign, with the returns of Buddy Barfield, Kevin Moomaw and David Beckwith.
Victor Vandergriff won't run for the Texas Senate, but former Rep. Toby Goodman, R-Mansfield, announced his campaign the next day. He'll face Rep. Rodney Anderson, R-Grand Prairie, in a Republican primary to replace retiring Sen. Chris Harris, R-Arlington. Harris had publicly encouraged Vandergriff to run, but switched to Goodman when Vandergriff decided to stay put. Goodman lost his seat to Democrat Paula Pierson in 2006; Pierson lost to Barbara Nash, a Republican, last November. Texans for Lawsuit Reform, which had encouraged Anderson's challenge to Harris, officially endorsed him after Vandergriff's announcement. But Goodman came in with a pack of local pols endorsing him, including Charlie England. England is the mayor of Grand Prairie, where Anderson lives, and the father of Kirk England, who lost a House seat to Anderson last November.
Bob Yancy got a Texans for Fiscal Responsibility endorsement in the HD-14 race that's underway now. That Brazos County election is the last that will be held under the current House maps; the winner gets Rep. Fred Brown's chair until early 2013, and will have to run again in March and November in a new district. Yancy also picked up a nod from the Young Conservatives of Texas. Judy LeUnes, the Democrat in that race, picked up an endorsement from the Texas branch of the American Federation of Teachers.
Former Texas Railroad Commissioner Victor Carrillo is endorsing Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, for the RRC seat that'll be open when Elizabeth Ames Jones' term is over. Chisum also has Rob Looney of the Texas Oil & Gas Association, Wallbuilders founder and president David Barton and Carol Everett, founder of the Heidi Group. Chisum will face Christi Craddick and Roland Sledge in the GOP primary.
The family of Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman is feeling generous toward Gov. Rick Perry, who appointed him in July. As reported in the Huffington Post, Smitherman, his wife Marijane, son Wyatt, who's at Texas A&M, and a daughter each donated the $2,500 maximum to Perry's campaign. Another son, who still lives at home, sent in $1,000.
Scott Sanford, a McKinney Republican, will run for the Texas House in Ken Paxton's seat. Paxton is giving up HD-70 to run for the state Senate. He's a CPA and executive pastor at a Baptist church.
Ann Witt, who lost a bid for the Texas House ten years ago, is making another run at it as a candidate in HD-136. She's a real estate and land developer. She challenged Rep. Scott Hochberg, D-Houston, in her last go-round; this time she's running for the open seat where Rep. Beverly Woolley, R-Houston, is retiring. Two others are already in: Pam Holm and Michael Schofield.
Running for re-election: State Rep. Bill Callegari, R-Katy.