HOUSTON (AP) — Former President George H.W. Bush is wasting no time deciding who he thinks should succeed Republican U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Bush, more than a year before the GOP primary, threw his support Monday behind former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams of Fort Worth.
"I wanted to get on board early," Bush said while seated next to Williams at the former president's Houston office. "I just know he can do this job."
Hutchison, 67, announced last week she wouldn't seek re-election when her term expires at the end of 2012. She's held the seat since 1993.
Including Williams, who has been running for the seat for two years now, the 2012 field already is taking shape.
Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams is likely to get into the race next week.
"People get ready!" he said in a Monday message posted on his Twitter account.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who just won re-election in November, says he's looking at the race, along with Elizabeth Ames Jones, also on the Railroad Commission.
Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert has been mentioned as a possible candidate to succeed Hutchison and announced Monday he won't seek re-election. Leppert, mayor since 2007, wouldn't specify his political plans.
"We'll just have to see where some of these things go," he said.
On the Democratic side, former Houston Mayor Bill White in 2009 announced he was running for Senate, then switched to the governor's race where he was soundly defeated by incumbent Gov. Rick Perry. Perry also easily topped Hutchison, who secured Bush's endorsement in last year's GOP gubernatorial primary. Her run for governor, and plans to retire early from the Senate, prompted Roger Williams to get in line to succeed her in January 2009, but she reversed her decision to leave after Perry trounced her and said she'd fill out the rest of her term.
White has been mentioned as a Democratic possibility for the Senate seat, although he's said he's not running. Another name floated has been U.S. Trade Rep. Ron Kirk of Dallas.
As secretary of state, largely a ceremonial post, Roger Williams was the state's chief elections officer for about three years until he resigned in July 2007. He described himself Monday as the only conservative businessman in the race.
"I'm not really concerned about who may get in," he said. "We are in. Our message will not change whether who gets in or who gets out."
Associated Press writer Chris Tomlinson in Austin contributed to this report.
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