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Presidential Straw Poll is a Bonus for Convention Goers

Also, maneuverings begin for a West Texas Senate seat, and a lesson in how to lose gracefully.

U.S. Sen Ted Cruz and Gov. Rick Perry at Fort Hood on April 4, 2014.

One added feature of this week’s GOP state convention is a presidential straw poll in which attendees will cast electronic ballots for one of 14 potential contenders in 2016.

Some of the biggest names on the ballot also have speaking roles at the convention — Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky. The ballot includes others, like Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio, who are in the national conversation as strong potential front-runners.

The results are nonbinding but will no doubt be scrutinized for signs of where the loyalties of the party base lie, with Perry or with Cruz. The question is especially apt after Cruz easily bested Perry in a straw poll at the Republican Leadership Conference last week in New Orleans.

It’s not likely that these results would impact definitively Perry’s thinking on whether to run in 2016. His valedictory speech on Thursday to the party faithful was widely seen as a statement of purpose that he intends to seek higher office.

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There was some maneuvering this past week over a state Senate seat that isn’t open yet.

Lubbock Republican Robert Duncan will be leaving sometime soon after being named the sole finalist to become Texas Tech University’s next chancellor. That opens up a spot in the Senate that isn’t vacant all that often. Duncan took over in December 1994.

One of Lubbock’s state representatives, Charles Perry, has wasted no time expressing his intent to run to succeed Duncan. This week, it was announced that he had the endorsement of tort reform group, Texans for Lawsuit Reform.

The moves by Perry are an obvious attempt to clear the room of potential rivals for the Senate seat. We will see a few months from now how successful they turn out to be.

One person who is definitely not in the running for Duncan’s Senate seat is Tech’s outgoing chancellor, Kent Hance. He told the Tribune’s Ross Ramsey this week, “Let me quote LBJ on that ... If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve.”

Hance held the SD-28 seat for a term in the 1970s before being elected to Congress in 1979 (memorably besting George W. Bush in the general election).

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State Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, decided late last week not to seek a recount in the primary runoff that he lost by exactly 300 out of more than 36,000 votes cast. In making the decision, he said, “we concluded the election was well conducted and there is no need for a recount.”

That conclusion hasn’t always stopped other candidates for seeking recounts. Deuell didn’t take that route, opting instead to concede gracefully and commit to a seamless transition.

In other words, in leaving, he demonstrated the traits that show why more politicians like him are needed.

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