Though the 2012 general election is more than a year away, Texas Republicans are already preparing for the possibility that both Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov David Dewhurst may move on to higher office next year.
Some conservative activists and at least one state Senator are preparing to make this hypothetical scenario an issue in next year's Republican primaries.
First, some background: If Perry is elected the next president and Dewhurst wins his bid for US Senate, the Texas Senate may end up picking both of their replacements. Back in 2000, after George W. Bush was elected president, the Texas Senate went through six rounds of voting via secret ballots to pick a new lieutenant governor to replace Rick Perry, who had just replaced Bush as governor.
The Texas Senate is currently split 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats. The emerging fear from some conservatives is that the Democrats in the Senate will partner with a handful of Republican Senators to pick the state's new leadership.
As we reported today, state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, has recently started speaking with Republican senators about pledging to participate in a Republican-only caucus that would hold vote after vote until consensus candidates emerge.
"No one's talking about this...but it’s really important," Patrick said last week while addressing Republicans in Arlington.
Patrick said he's spoken with several senators and most have been receptive to his pledge.
Some Tea Party activists are also starting to look at this issue, going so far as to call on their members to urge current Republican state senators to vow to block Democrats from having any say in picking either Perry's or Dewhurst's replacement.