THE BIG CONVERSATION:
The KBH guessing game is over (finally). Now comes the fun part.
On Thursday, Kay Bailey Hutchison announced she would not seek re-election to the U.S. Senate next year. The news, though not entirely unexpected given Hutchison's long history of toying with retirement, came amid speculation that that the longtime senator was eying a fourth term. In fact, some state Republicans, as Politico reported last week, were convinced of it.
But in a letter to supporters issued Thursday, Hutchison announced she was done. "That should give the people of Texas ample time to consider who my successor will be," she said.
And ample time they'll surely need, given the crowded field already poised to jockey for one of the state's most prized political posts.
The contenders? There's a slew of 'em, as we've laid out today — some more plausible than others. Topping the list of plausibility: Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, a proven fundraiser with support in Washington whose term doesn't end until 2014. Some have also clearly stated their intention to run, including Railroad Commissioners Elizabeth Ames Jones and Michael Williams, both Republicans. John Sharp, the former comptroller and one of the few Democrats who's publicly declared any interest, has also said he's in the hunt.
Some other names in the mix: Tom Leppert, Ted Cruz, Chet Edwards, Chris Bell, Julián Castro and, oh, why not, Kinky Friedman and Farouk Shami.
And what about Bill White? The former gubernatorial candidate so far looks unlikely to run, but over at The New York Times, FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver says he might be Texas Democrats' best bet right now.
- Budget cuts came into stark relief Thursday with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's announcement that a state Senate bill will move to cut at least 8,000 jobs. State Rep. Jim Pitts, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, also warned of work force cuts ahead as part of a House budget bill he'll introduce Tuesday. Pitts said furloughs may be ordered for employees who aren't cut.
- On the same day came news that the troubled Texas Youth Commission has offered pay raises to top employees over the past four months, as reported by the Austin American-Statesman. One legislator called the raises "absolutely out of line"; another said they should be "rolled back immediately."
- Texas Republican wants lawmakers to be able to carry guns in D.C., The Hill
- More top state officials getting bodyguards, Austin American-Statesman
- Does the Rio Grande Valley Need a Law School?, The Texas Tribune
- Bad Diets, Smoking Cause East Texans to Die Young, The Texas Tribune