Senatorial Shift

With four Republican retiring, perhaps two more Republicans vulnerable to primary challenges, and a Democrat heading for defeat, the Texas Senate will look a lot better in 2013. Each outgoing senator is likely to be replaced by conservatives TFR has previously endorsed and supported.

Leaving Under Their Own Steam
The Senate’s president pro tempore, Republican Mike Jackson, isn’t seeking re-election so he can run for a newly-drawn congressional seat. Meanwhile, GOP State Sens. Steve Ogden and Florence Shapiro have previously announced their retirement, Chris Harris of Arlington confirming today that he is also retiring.

Vulnerable GOP
Add to the mix that State Sen. Bob Duncan (R-Lubbock) and Jeff Wentworth (R-San Antontio), both appear on shaky ground with their primary bases and could be vulnerable.

Defeated Dem Walking
And then there is State Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth), who if she is smart will have already reserved a U-Haul to move her stuff out of Austin. Her district was never a Democrat stronghold; being only accidentally elected when the previous incumbent’s campaign (former Sen. Kim Brimer) ineptly imploded at the hands of his consultant.

The Improvers
Taken in all, the Senate could shift strongly to the commonsense right at the start of the 2013 legislative session.

Mr. Harris was already facing a primary challenge from conservative Rodney Anderson, a House freshman stand-out. Running against the liberal Ms. Davis will be another conservative stalwart, State Rep. Kelly Hancock.

Frankly, just ridding the Senate of Harris and Davis will be a dramatic improvement. (Sen. Harris’ retirement announcement included his call for Victor Vandegriff — son of former Arlington mayor Tom Vandegriff — to run for his seat.)

Good To Better
With Sens. Jackson, Shapiro and Ogden, it’s a case of varying degrees of good improving to much better. For example, Mr. Jackson (who received the Taxpayer Advocate Award this year) will likely be replaced by State Rep. Larry Taylor, who has been repeatedly recognized for his outstanding voting record.

Similarly, it looks like Mr. Ogden will be replaced in the Senate by another Taxpayer Advocate Award recipient, State Rep. Charles Schwertner.

Finally, Ms. Shapiro’s retirement opens the door for long-time taxpayer champion Ken Paxton to seek that senate seat. (He’s being challenged in that race by Scott O’Grady.)

Challenges Looming?
On the other hand, primary voters might have the chance to do a little spring cleaning in the Senate come March 2012. Sens. Duncan and Wentworth are both vulnerable, though so far without announced challenges. Duncan was blamed by Gov. Rick Perry for killing illegal immigration legislation this year, and both men seem to delight in running afoul of business leaders and grassroots activists alike.

It’s rumored Dr. Donna Campbell, an emergency room doctor who challenged Lloyd Doggett for Congress in 2010, might take on Mr. Wentworth. And from the panhandle comes regular word that several individuals are weighing a run against Mr. Duncan.

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Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael is the CEO of Empower Texans. A graduate of Texas A&M, former newspaper reporter, one-time Capitol Hill staffer, think tank vice president, and an Eagle Scout, Sullivan is married with three children. He divides his time between the Metroplex, the rest of Texas, and Austin.

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