Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Williams possibly preparing run for office

Perry could tap current or former aides
to replace him as chief elections officer.

Secretary of State Roger Williams is stepping down as the state's chief
elections officer, most likely to prepare for running for statewide office.

Williams on Monday announced his resignation, effective July 1. He declined to detail his plans except to say, "I don't think I'm going to be a lobbyist."

He had nearly $194,000 in his office's political account as of Dec. 31 and hasn't cloaked his ambitions. He said recently that he'd be interested in a U.S. Senate bid if Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas tries for governor in 2010.
Gov. Rick Perry, who appointed Williams to the post in late 2004, said Williams "has been an incredible salesman for the State of Texas, and his leadership will be missed."

Williams, 57, a Weatherford car dealer and businessman, took office Feb. 8, 2005. Before that, he was a high-dollar fundraiser for President Bush's campaigns and a former major-league baseball prospect.

Perry's office said nothing Monday about possible successors. Names circulating at the Capitol include those of Phil Wilson, Perry's deputy chief of staff, and Brian Newby, Perry's general counsel. Other possibilities include lobbyists Robert Howden, a former senior adviser and communications director for Perry, and Luis Saenz, a former assistant secretary of state who directed Perry's 2006 re-election campaign.

Howden said: "If (Perry) asked me to come back, I would be all ears." Saenz had no comment.

The secretary of state oversees elections and doubles as liaison for the governor on border and Mexican affairs. The office also serves as the state's repository for official and business records, and it publishes government rules and regulations.
The office as a launch pad for politics "isn't the same as having your name on the ballot," Kirk recalled. "But it's better than starting from scratch."
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