Having taken note of the political demise of a soundly conservative lawmaker from East Texas to an even more conservative challenger, the thought occurred to me: Is the Texas Panhandle susceptible to this kind of intra-party insurrection?
State Sen. Bob Deuell is about to leave office after being defeated in the GOP primary by newcomer Bob Hall. As the Dallas Morning News columnist noted, the “farthest right” defeated the “far right.”
So, what does this mean for the Panhandle?
I’ll admit that the GOP primary contest for the Texas Senate seat held by Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, frightened the bejabbers out of me. Seliger almost got beat in the March primary by former Midland mayor Mike Canon, a nice guy who’s also a TEA party mouthpiece. Canon suggested during the campaign that Seliger, a mainstream Republican former Amarillo mayor, was somehow in cahoots with them crazy liberals in Austin.
The Panhandle, indeed all of West Texas, dodged a bullet by re-nominating Seliger in the primary and allowing him to coast to re-election in an uncontested race in November.
What does the future hold? What might occur if, say, state Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo, packs it in? Smithee has served in the Legislature since 1985 and has developed a reputation as one of the smartest, most legislatively savvy members of the Texas House.
Who’s lying in wait out there for a key retirement? Who’s waiting in the tall grass waiting to seize the moment to launch a sound-bite campaign the way Hall did against Deuell?
It happened in a Texas Senate district down yonder. It can happen here.