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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Elizabeth Ames Jones says, "I'll be ready" for Senate bid

Elizabeth Ames Jones (photo) of San Antonio: 'I'll be ready' for Senate Bid

By Peggy Fikac and Matt Stiles - Express-News

Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones of San Antonio has joined a growing crowd of hopefuls jostling for U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's not-yet-vacant seat as the incumbent explores a race for governor.

And ending months of speculation about his political future, Houston Mayor Bill White, a Democrat serving his third term, is expected join the Senate race next week, two knowledgeable sources who would only speak on condition of anonymity said Friday.

Former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams — another Republican — also said Friday he's formed a U.S. Senate exploratory committee.

Jones, White and Williams join other contenders: former state comptroller John Sharp, a Democrat who recently said he'll run, and state Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, who has an exploratory committee.

Other rumored possibilities are Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Attorney General Greg Abbott, Railroad Commission Chairman Michael Williams and U.S. Rep. Kay Granger of Fort Worth. “I do intend to be a candidate, but I'm going to make an announcement at a later date,” Jones said by telephone Friday.

She quietly filed papers with the Federal Election Commission weeks ago. She added in a statement, “Obviously, my experience, including my service in the Legislature and in statewide elected office, will serve me well as I fight for issues important to Texans.” Jones filed for 2012, when Hutchison's seat is up. If Hutchison resigns earlier, Jones said, “I'll be ready.”

Jones was appointed to the commission in 2005 by Gov. Rick Perry to fill a vacancy and won election in 2006. She'd been elected to the Texas House three times before her appointment to the commission, which regulates oil and gas.

If Hutchison resigns her seat, Perry would appoint the senator's successor pending a special election. Hutchison has said she won't seek re-election in 2012 and may resign late next year.

It should be no surprise that the prospect of a special election for a Senate seat is a tantalizing one, said Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson, pointing out that a 1961 Texas race for U.S. Senate drew more than 70 candidates.

Nor would a surprise winner be unheard of, Jillson said, noting that Republican John Tower emerged the winner in 1961, a time of Democratic dominance in Texas. “Special elections ... bring out large numbers of people,” he said. “They have unpredictable outcomes.”

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