State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, officially announced today that he will not run for the seat currently occupied by outgoing U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, but that he is mulling a run for lieutenant governor.

Patrick, who had been strongly considering entering the U.S. Senate race, says "many key factors" led to his decision, among them a concern about the possibility of a dramatic rearrangement of government leaders on the state's horizon. 

Patrick anticipates that Gov. Rick Perry will be the Republican presidential nominee and that there's "a strong possibility" he moves to the White House. Also, Patrick said of the current U.S. Senate race, "If you look at the race today, it is likely — especially with me out of the field — that [Lt. Gov. David] Dewhurst wins."

Under that scenario, with Perry and Dewhurst departing simultaneously, the Texas Senate would select replacements for the governor and lieutenant governor from within its ranks. "I want to be in the middle of these decisions so that I can be sure we have the right conservative in that position, if it's not me," Patrick told the Tribune.

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There will be further shuffling of the state's leadership in 2014, and Patrick is keeping his options open. As he traveled the state gauging support for his ultimately nixed U.S. Senate bid, Patrick said he was repeatedly urged to run for either of the two top statewide spots.

Patrick told the Tribune he expects Attorney General Greg Abbott to be the next governor and will support him. But he'll "consider very seriously" running for the No. 2 spot — and a decision could come sooner rather than later. Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and Comptroller Susan Combs have already expressed interest in that race.

"With three people already declared, raising money and getting endorsements, I can't wait until after next session to make that decision," Patrick said.

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