2014 promises political change in Texas

2014 promises political change in Texas
Photo courtesy: Patrick Michels
By CHRIS TOMLINSON

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Elections and court rulings could bring tremendous changes to Texas in 2014, reshaping the political landscape for the first time in more than a decade.

Texans will choose a new governor, attorney general, comptroller, land commissioner, agriculture commissioner and railroad commissioner. The only question for voters is whether to hand out promotions to serving politicians or elect some new faces to run the state.

Judges next year also could upend the status quo, declaring the public school finance system insufficient, deciding the constitutionality of gay marriage and redrawing political maps that could dent Republicans’ grip on power. Judges also will rule on the legality of some of the toughest abortions laws in the country, setting the stage for a major U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2015.

Gov. Rick Perry tripped the political escalator when he announced his retirement, clearing the way for his heir apparent, Attorney General Greg Abbott. State Comptroller Susan Combs also announced retirement plans this year and Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman jumped in the race to replace Abbott.

Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples are trying to oust Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, weakened by his failed U.S. Senate bid in 2012. Of the top seven state offices, Dewhurst is the only incumbent running in 2014, and he’s got three challengers in the Republican primary.

The state hasn’t seen that much change at the top since George W. Bush moved from the governor’s mansion to the White House in 2000.

A key question for voters is whether to oust career politicians.

Tea party members are hoping to capitalize on voter unhappiness by promising more conservative policies if elected. That’s placed some veteran politicians, like U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, on the defensive. He’s proclaiming his conservatism at every opportunity and mirroring the junior senator from Texas, Ted Cruz.

Democrats hope the tack to the right will help them claim the political… Continued here: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/texas/article/2014-promises-political-change-in-Texas-5099769.php

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