Politics
5:30 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

Agenda Texas: The Post Session Horse Race Begins

The end of a legislative session usually triggers the beginning of the next election cycle. But before anyone could throw his or her hat in the ring, we had an incumbent exit the arena.

A lot of people thought Texas Comptroller Susan Combs was planning a run for Lt. Governor in 2014. Instead, she announced Wednesday she was going to retire at the end of her term.

That opened a flood of candidates looking to replace her and new speculation about what it might mean for other statewide and legislative races.

But Texas Tribune Editor-in-Cheif and CEO Evan Smith isn't sure this session elevated any lawmakers into the state-wide spotlight.

"I'm not certain that there were any stars created in this legislative session," Smith said. "But certainly there were a lot of people who during this session, behaved in ways that reflected their interest in finding another job."

But in the absents of any stars, there's always the chance for a lawmaker distinguish themselves in a negative way.

"I don't think Dan Patrick (R-Houston) had the best session. I know that Dan Patrick always aspirations to do bigger and better and more ambitious things," Smith said.

But before we get to the 2014 primaries and general election, there's an election of consequence in November 2013. As part of this fall's constitutional proposition ballot, voters will have a chance to approve or deny the creation of a bank account to fund water infrastructure projects.

Without approval of the proposition, the $2 billion lawmakers set aside for the projects can't be spent. And Smith thinks there's a chance Tea Party groups could rally their supporters and defeat the measure.

"Here's the problem, the average person goes into their house and they turn on the tap in the kitchen and water comes out. They put on their sprinkler and water comes out," Smith said. "You have to persuade those people we have a water crisis."

He said in the absence of being able to convince votes of the dire need, the traditional low turnout for a constitutional proposition election seems a ripe target for the energized Tea Party base.

We're still waiting on several political announcements to happen this summer. At the top of that list, whether Governor Rick Perry will seek a 4th term in office.  Or let gubernatorial candidate-in-waiting and current Attorney General Greg Abbott have a go at it.