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Texas: Special Senate Election Unlikely Until After ’10

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) now appears likely to stay in the Senate even as she runs for governor in 2010, counter to what some expected when she began preparing to seek her state’s top post.

Republican sources in Washington, D.C., on Monday predicted that Hutchison will continue to serve in the Senate, resigning only if she wins in November 2010. Hutchison had been expected to resign her Senate seat in the coming months to focus on her campaign full time.

Should Hutchison still decide to step down, she would likely do so at the end of this year, setting up a May 2010 special election to fill out the remainder of her current term, which expires in 2012. Gov. Rick Perry (R) would presumably appoint someone to replace Hutchison in the interim.

“I think she won’t resign before the end of the year, if at all,— one Republican operative based in Washington said Monday.

Hutchison’s office declined to comment on the matter.

But the jockeying to fill her Senate seat, if she does choose to step down early, is well under way.

State Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams (R) is one Republican looking to run, and this week he will be in Washington, D.C., to meet with various supporters and interest groups and to headline a fundraiser at the Capitol Hill Club on Wednesday night.

Williams is one of several potential Senate candidates moving ahead with campaigns of their own as they wait on official word from Hutchison. Others are fellow state Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Jones (R), state Sen. Florence Shapiro (R) and former Secretary of State Roger Williams (R). Meanwhile, state Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R) continue to be mentioned for the Senate seat.

On the Democratic side, former state Comptroller John Sharp, state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte and Houston Mayor Bill White all seem poised to run in a potential 2010 Senate special election.

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