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Houston Mayor Looking at Hutchison Senate Seat

Wednesday, 17 Dec 2008 09:24 AM

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HOUSTON -- Houston's Democratic mayor said on Tuesday he would run for a U.S. Senate seat that could become vacant in 2010 by a brewing battle among Republicans to be the Lone Star State's governor.

Bill White, Houston's three-term mayor who guided the fourth-largest U.S. city through Hurricane Ike, said he would run for the seat that would be vacated if Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison decides to challenge fellow Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry for his post in 2010.

"I'll be asking the people of Texas to let me work for them as senator," White said in a video clip on his campaign website.

Hutchison, Texas' senior senator whose term ends in 2012, has not formally decided to run against Perry - the longest-serving governor in the state's history.

But the two-term senator, elected in a special session in 1993, set up a committee this month to weigh a possible run for the governor's office. A decision could come in early 2009, said Todd Olsen, a spokesman for Hutchison's committee.

"There's too much bitterness, too much anger, too little trust, too little consensus and too much infighting," Hutchison said in a statement. "And the tone comes from the top."

Olsen said Hutchison is considering a run for the governorship because Perry garnered about 39 percent of the vote in 2006 and "that has caused Republicans heartburn."

"We want to lead Texans and feel like people agree with the direction we are taking our state," Olsen said.

If Hutchison leaves the Senate, Texas would hold a special election to fill her seat.

White worked in the U.S. Energy Department during the Clinton administration. White touted his energy industry credentials and a push by many politicians to make the United States less dependent on foreign oil imports.

"I've been talking about that for over three decades," White said.

To become the Democratic Senate candidate, White could face former Texas Comptroller John Sharp, a moderate Democrat who has said he plans to enter the race.

© Thomson Reuters 2008 All rights reserved

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