Darren Yancy Update: McLennan County vs Johnson County

The Waco Trib has been providing great coverage of the on going story of Senator Averitt withdrawing from the Republican primary, thus leaving political new comer Darren Yancy the seat.  Yancy is from the City of Burleson in Johnson County, a suburb of Fort Worth.  Senator Averitt is from McLennan County.

It seems that the McLennan County GOP leadership does not want the county to loose its Senate seat to Johnson County.  I bet that the other counties will side with Yancy and Johnson County because that brings the home seat closer to them.

It is important to note that no matter what side you are on in this situation, it is an important issue where the district’s Senator resides.  McLennan County is facing different issues than the northern counties like Johnson that are suburbs of Fort Worth.  I expect “suburb” will take on a different meaning in the context of this race.

Some local Republican leaders say they will work to re-elect Waco state Sen. Averitt, despite his withdrawal from race, to prevent victory for Burleson newcomer

By Michael W. Shapiro Tribune-Herald staff writer

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Despite Wednesday’s announcement from state Sen. Kip Averitt, R-Waco, that he was ending his re-election bid because of health reasons, a top GOP official said a number of Republicans would do their best to elect him rather than take a chance on Burleson newcomer Darren Yancy in the party’s primary.

Chris DeCluitt, a Waco lawyer who sits on the State Republican Executive Committee, said a movement was afoot to re-elect Averitt, which, according to the Secretary of State’s office, would open the door for Republican and Democratic candidates to later vie for the seat.

“There are already quite a few people who are not in favor of Mr. Yancy who are talking about, ‘We’ve got to elect Kip,’ ” DeCluitt said. “I’m one of those people. We’ve got to elect Kip.”

An Averitt primary victory would trigger one of two scenarios:

* If the senator were to withdraw right after the March primary, Republican and Democratic committees consisting of the party chairs from the 10 counties in the Senate district — McLennan, Bosque, Coryell, Ellis, Falls, Hill, Hood, Johnson, Navarro and Somervell — would each name a replacement candidate to compete in November’s general election.

* If he were to stay on through the general election (where he would have to defeat a Libertarian candidate) and then step down, there would be a special election to fill the seat, in which candidates of any political stripe could compete.

With an Averitt win, DeCluitt said, “I think people of the district — whether through special election or through the selection process with the county chairs — would have more input on who’s going to be our senator.”

Yancy said he’s unconcerned by Waco-area Republicans’ efforts to defeat him and is focused on running his campaign.

“You know what?” he said. “They want to start a re-elect Kip campaign. Go right ahead.”

Yancy said he’s lining up the endorsements from several prominent state lawmakers in the northern part of the district as well as from up to nine of the district’s 10 GOP chairs. He said he doubts he’ll get the backing of McLennan County Republican Party chairman Joe Hinton.

Yancy also questioned DeCluitt’s motives, saying DeCluitt and Averitt had worked out an agreement where the senator would leave his Senate seat sometime after the 2010 election, clearing the way for DeCluitt.

DeCluitt responded, “I think he’s someone who’s got some flights of fancy.”

He acknowledged that it’s been no secret that he hopes to someday run for a seat in the legislature, perhaps even in the state Senate, “but for Mr. Yancy to say there was a plan between me and Kip is patently false.”

McLennan County is the population center of the district with 29.4 percent of its residents, according to 2008 U.S. Census data. Local Democrats said they hope Republicans consider the importance of having a hometown senator, arguing Yancy, as a resident of Fort Worth’s southern suburbs, wouldn’t necessarily have Waco’s best interests at heart in the 2011 legislative session when state lawmakers draw up new congressional and legislative districts.

“This is not a conversation about some narrow-minded partisan political matter,” said Lyndon Olson, a former U.S. ambassador and a senior figure in Waco’s Democratic community. “This is about this county and this city having adequate representation in the Texas Senate and House during redistricting to protect us from being redivided into two or three congressional or legislative districts.”

Olson said Averitt has been a great advocate for the Waco area, and replacing him with a hard-line conservative could be a huge setback.

“This town must get serious about who we put in this position because from an economic development standpoint, we need good people from both parties,” he said. “We can’t have some wingnut on the right or some wingnut on the left representing us.”

Yancy said such hypothetical discussions are silly anyway, since he plans to campaign hard and win in March.

“We’re going to put all the what-ifs to rest and nip this thing in the bud,” he said.

mshapiro@wacotrib.com

757-5707

//

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