AUSTIN (AP) - Texas Comptroller Susan Combs announced Wednesday that she will not seek election to any office in 2014, including the one she holds now.
Combs was long considered a potential candidate for lieutenant governor once David Dewhurst vacated the office. But last year Dewhurst lost a U.S. Senate bid to Ted Cruz and is running for re-election against at least two challengers in the March 4 Republican primary.
Hours after Combs made her announcement, state Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, said he was planning a campaign to replace her.
"I think it's important to have someone in the comptroller's office who understand the importance of keeping Texas as an economic engine," Hegar said in an interview. "In this last legislative session, I had the opportunity of being the point person in the Senate dealing with everything that had to do with fiscal matters policy and to oversee and shepherd through the governor's request and our efforts in the Legislature to provide meaningful tax relief."
Kerrville Republican Rep. Harvey Hilderbran also issued a statement thanking Combs for her service and said he was putting together a statewide campaign team. He stopped short of formally announcing his candidacy, but made clear he is considering one.
"Many Texans have asked me to consider seeking this office should the seat become open, and I have prayerfully done that," Hilderbran said. "We are putting the pieces in place for a statewide run in 2014, and I will have a formal political announcement very soon."
As the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, he has been one of the chief tax policy writers in the state. Tea party activist Debra Medina posted online Wednesday that she was also considering running to replace Combs and asked for donations.
Combs began her career as an elected official 20 years ago as a state representative from Austin. She first won statewide office in 1998 as agriculture commission and became comptroller in 2006. The comptroller is responsible for managing the state's finances, taking in revenues and disbursing money to state agencies.
"I plan to stay actively engaged in the policy work I have focused on for the past two decades," Combs said in a statement. "This includes the protection of private property rights and fighting federal overreach, finding ways to combat the effects of obesity, and ensuring governments are transparent to make our economy stronger."
One of the reasons why Combs said she was making the announcement was to clear the way for other candidates to plan their races. The Republican Primary is 10 months away and the filing deadline is Dec. 9. A statewide election in Texas can cost several million dollars, depending on the race.
The 2014 election could bring major changes to the line-up of state-wide office holders after years of stagnation.
Gov. Rick Perry has yet to announce whether he will seek an unprecedented fourth full-term, while Attorney General Greg Abbott is positioned to make a bid for the state's top office. Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples have both announced they will vacate their offices to challenge Dewhurst for lieutenant governor.
Five of the seven statewide offices up for election in 2014 could see new officeholders, solely due to vacancies.
Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman is seeking re-election for a second full-term. Former President George H.W. Bush's grandson, George P. Bush, is seeking his first elected office as Land Commissioner and Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, is believed to be considering a run for attorney general, should Abbott announce he is seeking another office.
Many Republicans are waiting to see what Perry decides before making any announcements. He has promised to make his plans known after the Texas Legislature adjourns. On Monday he called lawmakers back for a special session, which could last until June 26.
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