Sen. Kip Averitt, R-Waco, resigned from office Monday, a week after winning the GOP primary for reelection to a seat he no longer wants to hold.
Averitt announced in January — after it was too late to get off the ballot — that he didn't want to serve another term. Darren Yancy of Burleson was the only other major party candidate who signed up to run, and although Averitt didn't campaign, he won handily. Now he's giving up the seat by quitting the term he's currently serving (as of noon on March 17). Expect a statement any time now from former Sen. David Sibley, R-Waco, who has told supporters in the district that he'd like to succeed Averitt.
Averitt issued a statement:
Your vote of confidence last Tuesday, election day, was most gratifying. I am humbled by your support.
Now, the time has come for me to step down. I will resign my senate seat as of noon on March 17th. This will allow the Governor to call a special election on May the 8th. My immediate priority now is to see that the voters in central Texas get to pick their next senator.
Serving you, our friends, and our neighbors has been my highest honor and greatest privilege. I thank you for your continued support of my decision to step away from public office after 17 years of service. I will now work on maintaining a healthy lifestyle and spending time with my children.
What that doesn't say is important. Averitt isn't yet taking his name off of the 2010 ballot, so the election for the rest of his current term can proceed while he's still the GOP's nominated candidate for the November election. If and when he withdraws from the ballot, the GOP chairs from the ten counties in SD-22 will pick a replacement. If that's after the special election to replace Averitt in May, they'd be hard-pressed to name anyone other than the candidate chosen by the voters. And in any case, four of the chairmen are new and won't be eligible to settle this until after the first week of May anyway.
Sibley is interested, but he's not in yet. His official line:
Kip Averitt has been an outstanding State Senator and he remains a friend. I understand his health concerns and support him in making the changes he needs over the coming months and years.
Many in the District have asked about my interest in the position and I am honored they would consider me. In my discussions with supporters and Republican county chairs I have heard a lot about the need for conservative, effective, common-sense government and look forward to continuing these conversations in the coming days.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst put out a statement, too:
Senator Averitt has done an outstanding job representing his district with dedication and integrity and has always put the best interests of Texas first. I want to thank him for his leadership and most importantly, his friendship, and I wish him all the very best in the future.