SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A month after losing a costly and long-coveted bid for the U.S. Senate, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on Tuesday turned his political sights back on the Texas Capitol and said he would seek for a fourth term in his powerful state office.
The line of prominent Republicans eyeing the lieutenant governor's seat in 2014 is already growing long, and Dewhurst's announcement at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., didn't change their plans — or even convince them that Dewhurst would really be on the ballot in two years.
"As I see this today, there's no way to know who will be running for lieutenant governor in 2014," said Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, who is also in Tampa this week and had already put his name in the field.
Dewhurst, 67, was first elected lieutenant governor in 2003 and had spent much of the past two years positioned as the favorite to succeed Republican U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. Despite a once commanding lead in the polls and spending millions of his vast personal wealth, though, Dewhurst lost the GOP runoff in July to tea party insurgent Ted Cruz.
The defeat left Dewhurst's political future murky, particularly as an entrenched member of the state's Republican establishment whose conservative record was assailed by Cruz and his restless supporters in the party.
Dewhurst's spokesman, Matt Hirsch, said Dewhurst has moved on from his loss to Cruz and delved back into the business of state affairs. The Texas lieutenant governor presides over the state Senate and wields considerable influence over state policy.
Earlier this week, Dewhurst appointed lawmakers to chair several powerful committees in the upcoming legislative session, including the finance committee, which drafts the budget.
"He was always concerned what was best for the state of Texas," Hirsch said. "He feels there's a lot of work left to be done."
Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson has also announced he intends to run for Dewhurst's seat. Patterson is a former state legislator who has led the Texas General Land Office since 2002. State Comptroller Susan Combs is also widely mentioned as a potential candidate.
Dewhurst had been mum on his political future since losing to Cruz. He has acknowledged missteps in his campaign and believed that many voters angry at Washington were out to punish government officials at all levels. Cruz has never held elected office, but his victory in the runoff vaulted him to Republican stardom and even a headlining address at the party's convention this week.
Before losing to Cruz, Dewhurst had been undefeated in elections since his first run for Texas Land Commissioner in 1998. He personally spent nearly $20 million on the Senate run.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.