Week of tumult awaits us in Texas

This next week could produce some of the most exciting political news in Texas that we’ve seen in, oh, maybe two decades, about the time a political neophyte named George W. Bush challenged Ann Richards for the governorship.

Gov. Rick Perry is going to announce whether he’s running for re-election to his zillionth term. I’m betting he’s not.

The next special session of the Legislature convenes Monday with three items on its agenda: transportation funding, juvenile justice reform and, oh yes, abortion. My hunch is that abortion is going to swallow up about 99.8 percent of everyone’s attention.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has announced his intention to seek re-election, but he’s already gotten a challenger awaiting him in the 2014 Republican primary, fire-breathing state Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston. Dewhurst’s response to Patrick’s candidacy will be to tack even farther to the right, much as he tried to do unsuccessfully this past year in his losing bid to become a U.S. senator; he lost the GOP primary to another fire-breather, Ted Cruz.

Comptroller Susan Combs says she’s retiring from politics. Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson also is running for lieutenant governor, for now, as is Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples.

These all are Republicans, by the way.

With Perry bowing out of the governor’s race – and possibly running for president (God help us!) once again – that leaves the door wide open for Attorney General Greg Abbott, or so one might think, except for the sudden emergence of a Democrat as a possible gubernatorial contender. State Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, the heroine of the abortion-bill filibuster, says she’s considering a run for statewide office. Hmmm.

And against this backdrop, we have the special session that is shaping up to be a huge donnybrook in Austin. Department of Public Safety and state officials are examining ways to control the mob that is sure to descend on the Big Pink State Capitol Building. Dewhurst vows to fight back against those who obstruct passage of the anti-abortion bill, which would criminalize an abortion after the 20th week of a pregnancy and shut down virtually every abortion clinic in the state.

I haven’t heard whether Davis is planning another filibuster. She might have run out of gas after the 11-hour gabfest she waged this past week. What’s more, Dewhurst likely will waive once again the Senate’s long-standing two-thirds rule requiring at least 21 votes for any bill to be brought to the floor, which all but ensures a filibuster – by Davis or anyone else willing to step into the limelight.

Let the fireworks begin.

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