Tuesday, February 18, 2020

#TXLEGE: Watson's gets a fascinating new gig

"To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:"
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Wasn't expecting this:
State Sen. Kirk Watson, an Austin Democrat, is retiring from the Texas Senate.

His resignation is effective at midnight on April 30, the Austin American-Statesman first reported Tuesday. Watson is leaving office to become the first dean of the University of Houston's Hobby School of Public Affairs.

"This is a chance to build a world-class public affairs and policy school essentially from the ground up," Watson said in a statement. "It is transformative work at a creative and ambitious university, located in one of the country's largest and most diverse cities. ... Only a unique opportunity to serve this state — and a compelling platform for that service — would cause me to leave."

Watson, an attorney and former mayor of the city of Austin, represents Senate District 14, a historically Democratic seat. It covers Bastrop County and parts of Travis County. He was first elected to the seat in 2006, taking office in early 2007.

Watson's early departure will set off a special election to serve the rest of the term, which will end in 2023. Watson delivered his resignation letter this morning to Gov. Greg Abbott, who will later set the date for a special election.

In terms of politics, and public policy, there's a lot to say.

Before we get to that, however, allow us this: Kirk Watson is one of the genuinely nicest people you will ever meet in politics.  That's not to say we've agreed with him or supported the same policies.  But in an industry where so many are cowards and liars, Kirk Watson has always been an honest sort of scoundrel who was never afraid of a public discussion.

To his tremendous credit, Kirk Watson was also an unsung hero on a certain topic.

That being said, about the other stuff:
  • Kirk Watson WILL get PAID!!!  Whatever his other virtues (at least in comparison to most politicians), he's always been comfortable funneling taxpayer subsidies to the very well-heeled.  It was probably inevitable that he would eventually cash in himself.  Expect him to receive a salary in the mid six figures.
  • Watson was typically one of the great defenders of the higher ed. establishment; while those sorts still exist in the Texas Senate, to have one fewer veteran on that topic around could make things interesting. 
  • Still, it's odd that U of H chose someone from Austin.  There are plenty of ex-politicos in Houston who could do this job.  There's probably something else at play, although we have no idea what it could be.  Keep that in the back of your mind over time.
  • As for the special election: Yes, the GOP could.  They probably won't.  But they could.  They should certainly try.

    There's a good chance that the special election comes down to a runoff between a Republican and someone closely aligned with Greg Casar.

    If that circumstance were to materialize, we could see those central Austin precincts that typically run up the scoreboard for Democrats being...unenthusiastic.  These are the neighborhoods that have been hit hardest by the city of Austin's new homelessness policies.  It doesn't take a genius to see how a critical mass might stay home.

    The special election would likely come down to Westlake.  And, to put it mildly, a Greg Casar type ain't gonna play well in Westlake.  Go Chaps.
Bottom Line: What an odd, unexpected, development.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.