Now that Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson is leaving office to challenge sitting Gov. Rick Perry, speculation has turned to who her successor will be and how he/she will be chosen.
Since Hutchinson’s seat wouldn’t normally be up for re-election until 2012, MyDD has a rundown of how the replacement process could play out:
This all depends upon Hutchison and the timing of her resignation. Under Texas law, there are several options that exist with regard to placeholder nominations and elections in such cases. If Hutchison submits her resignation on or before January 1 of an even-numbered (general election) year and on or before the 62nd day before the primary election, the unexpired term will be on the ballot for the next general election. Whether or not a party primary would come in to play would further depend upon the date of the resignation and require a lengthy trek into Texas Election Law to explain how, if the primary does not come into play, the party nominees are determined (by nominating at the state convention or the State Democratic Executive Committee).
If Hutchison resigns during in an odd-numbered year, a special election will be called just as in any other instance. The same would be true if she resigned after the 62nd day before the primary in an even-numbered election year.
Perry gets to appoint someone to fill the vacancy if and only if the vacancy exists or will exist while Congress is in session. Given the business before congress, it is very unlikely that Congress will not be in session at some point while the seat is vacant pending a special election, meaning Perry will get to appoint a placeholder.
Former Texas Comptroller John Sharp–who received the highest percentage of votes statewide of any Texas Democrat in the past decade–has announced that he will run for Hutchinson’s seat; in fact, he bypassed the usual process of forming an exploratory committee so he could start his campaign as soon as possible.
Here’s a rundown of a bunch of other potential candidates from both major parties. As I wrote before, I think the Democratic nominee will face an uphill battle, but depending on when the election is and who runs, this seat could be winnable.