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Two Senate Hopefuls Look to Create Aura of Inevitability

Lois Kolkhorst and Trey Martinez Fischer try to leverage big-name endorsements at the outset of special elections to fill soon to be vacant seats in the Texas Senate.

Rep. Lois Kolkhorst smiling after adjournment of House on June 15th, 2011

This week’s word in state politics is inevitability, as in the feeling that a pair of state Senate candidates is trying to instill in their respective contests.

Lois Kolkhorst, the Brenham Republican state representative, has been running for a while now for the Senate District 18 seat being relinquished by state Comptroller-elect Glenn Hegar.

Hegar made things official last Friday, announcing that he would resign his seat on Dec. 5 ahead of a special election set for the next day. The filing period to enter the special election ended on Wednesday with Kolkhorst being one of five hopefuls for the seat.

Two Republicans, Gary Gates of Richmond and Charles Gregory III of Simonton, and two Democrats, Cynthia Drabek and Christian E. Hawkins, are the other candidates to throw their hat in the ring.

Kolkhorst, meanwhile, spent the week rounding up further endorsements. On Monday, she said that the GOP county chairs in 13 of the district’s 21 counties were backing her.

And Hegar attended a campaign event for Kolkhorst on Wednesday where he endorsed her as well.

While all this was going on, movement also started on who might take Kolkhorst’s seat in the Texas House should a vacancy occur. Austin County Judge Carolyn Bilski, who is finishing up her fifth term in office, signaled Monday that she’d be interested for the seat.

State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, is jockeying for the pole position in the special election to succeed Leticia Van de Putte, who confirmed on Wednesday that she is resigning her Senate District 26 to run for mayor of San Antonio.

Martinez Fischer, who chairs the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, was quick off the mark on Thursday morning with a slate of endorsement intended to be an overwhelming show of strength.

In it, he cites the support from the widows of former Senators Greg Luna and Bob Vale, who both represented SD-26, and of Joe Bernal, another Senator to represent the district.

In addition, Martinez Fischer said he had the backing of San Antonio Congressman Joaquin Castro as well as five Democratic members of the Bexar County House delegation — Justin Rodriguez, Joe Farias, Ruth Jones McClendon, Roland Gutierrez and Phil Cortez.

If this was intended to scare off other candidates for the SD-26 seat, the initial indication is that it didn’t work.

State Rep. Jose Menendez, D-San Antonio, who has also been in the mix for Van de Putte’s seat, released a statement on Thursday confirming his intention to run.

“As Senator Van de Putte chooses a new place to serve, I intend to run for Senate District 26,” Menéndez said. “I look forward to fulfilling her legacy of delivering a world class education for our students, protecting San Antonio families, creating high paying jobs and honoring our Veterans.”

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