Keep in mind that there is a run-off system in Texas primaries. So, if one of these candidates can't muster 50 percent of the vote, the top two contenders will head to a run-off.
Republicans hold a clear advantage in the Lone Star State, though Democrats will likely contest the seat. The last Democratic senator in the state was Bob Krueger
, who Hutchison defeated in a 1993 special election
"The idea that they could win in Texas is wishful thinking to say the least. But I look forward to seeing how much national Democrats spend there as they defend 23 seats this cycle," said National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brian Walsh.
Former Texas Comptroller John Sharp
is the de facto leading Democratic candidate but will undoubtedly face a very uphill climb against whoever emerges as the Republican nominee.
Former Houston Mayor Bill White
, who ran for governor in 2010, had originally wanted to run for the Senate before switching to the gubernatorial race. But White told Hotline On Call
shortly after the election that he had no plans to run in 2012.
Another possible contender is former Rep. Chet Edwards
(D-Texas). Edwards, who represented his conservative Waco-based district for six years before losing in the Republican wave last year, would be able to tout his moderate track record and would benefit from his old district's proximity to Dallas - one of the largest population centers in the state.
"The 2010 cycle was full of surprises and it turns out 2012 will have some twists and turns as well: the first Senate retirement is a Republican," said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Eric Schultz. "We look forward to running a competitive race in Texas as the Lone Star state is now one of several Democratic pick-up opportunities next November."
UPDATE, 4:50 p.m.:
Dewhurst appears already ready to throw his hat into the ring.
"I fully intend to explore running for the United States Senate, and should I run, I will run with the intention of winning," he told
the Dallas Morning News