Comptroller Susan Combs announced Wednesday that she will not seek re-election and that she is retiring from public office at the end of her term in 2015. Combs, who had been positioning herself to run for lieutenant governor, will not run for that post or other elective office.
"It is with a deep sense of gratitude for the past, coupled with excitement for the future, that I announce today I will not be seeking elective office in 2014," Combs said in a statement, adding that she would keep working on several policy priorities, but that she wanted to spend more time on her West Texas ranch. "I want to make my intentions clear as soon as possible for prospective statewide candidates."
Combs, 68, a former prosecutor and state representative, was elected agriculture commissioner in 1998 and was elected comptroller in 2006.
She had been eyeing the lieutenant governor’s post, but when Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst lost the U.S. Senate race and said he was running for re-election, that scenario grew less likely.
The announcement has already set off a scramble to replace her. The comptroller exercises broad power over the purse strings in state government, and interest in the job is high.
Among the Republicans said to be eyeing that job are former gubernatorial contender Debra Medina, Sen. Glenn Hegar of Katy, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Harvey Hilderbran of Kerrville and former state Rep. Raul Torres of Corpus Christi.
In a written statement issued Wednesday afternoon, Hegar congratulated Combs and said he hoped to replace her.
"At this time I also want to announce that I will be a candidate for Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts in 2014. My campaign will have more to say in the coming days," Hegar said. "I am very excited about this opportunity and look forward to continuing to serve the people of Texas."
Senate Finance Chairman Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands and a CPA, sent out a press release on Wednesday saying he is also exploring a possible run.
“Susan Combs has played a key role in cultivating the strength of the Texas economy, and has been a trusted and capable steward of the public accounts for many years," Gov. Rick Perry said in a statement. "A major proponent of openness in government, she leaves behind a legacy of transparency, and a state that’s more responsive, more accessible and more accountable to the public."