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Will the Texas Senate pick the next governor?

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Commentary: The 82nd Legislature has barely left town and we are already in the 2012 campaign season.

With the governor and lieutenant governor considering higher offices, the game of musical chairs is already starting.

Add four new congressional districts to the mix and every political wannabe in the state is making calls to see if they have any support.

Throw in a bunch of newly drawn legislative districts and you have a stampede. Finally, add a handful of state senators and representatives retiring and you have a veritable free for all.

It’s a target rich environment for those of who cover the never-ending story of Texas politics.

But just in case you think you have seen it all, consider this possibility.

Gov. Rick Perry runs for national office and wins. Lt. Governor David Dewhurst would then become governor. But, most people think that the lieutenant governor will run for the United States Senate. Let’s presume Dewhurst wins.

Who then becomes Governor?

Well, when then Lt. Gov. Perry replaced George Bush as governor back in 2002, the Senate picked a new presiding officer.

The same thing would happen again if there was a vacancy this time. The Senate would pick a new presiding officer who effectively becomes the lieutenant governor.

But wait, it gets better. The new presiding officer of the Senate would be next in succession to become governor. If Perry becomes president or vice president and Dewhurst becomes a United States Senator, 16 of the 31 Texas Senators--a simple majority--will pick their presiding officer who by default becomes the next Texas governor, serving the remaining two years of the term.

Which raises the next interesting question. There are likely to be 20 Republicans and 11 Democrats. Does the whole Senate come to a consensus or do the 20 Republicans caucus and pick the next Governor? In that case, it only takes a majority of the 20 Republicans, 11 state senators to decide who will be governor.

And then the cherry on top--the Senate still has to pick a new presiding officer.

No, you can’t make this stuff up.

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