John Sharp to seek US Senate seat12/08/2008By APRIL CASTRO / Associated Presshttp://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/APStories/stories/D94UO7O00.htmlDemocratic former Comptroller John Sharp said Monday he'll run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison the next time the seat goes before the voters.
Sharp, 58, said he will file the required paperwork to begin raising money and campaigning on Jan. 1. Hutchison said last week she is forming an exploratory committee to run for governor in 2010, two years before her term ends.
"I will be a candidate whether the election is in 2012 or any time before then," said Sharp, who made two unsuccessful runs for lieutenant governor. "Texans face tough challenges that call for innovative solutions, and that's what our campaign is all about."
Hutchison, whose Senate term expires in 2012, has said she may leave the Senate as early as next year to campaign. If that happens, Republican Gov. Rick Perry would appoint a replacement to the seat until a special election is held.
Other possible Democratic contenders for the seat are Houston Mayor Bill White; former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, who lost a 2002 Senate bid to John Cornyn; state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio; state Rep. Richard Pena Raymond; and Dallas state Rep. Rafael Anchia.
On the GOP side, state Sen. Florence Shapiro is raising money for a possible run while former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Michael Williams, the chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission are thought to be contenders.
Sharp, who was close friends with Perry when they were students at Texas A&M, was widely expected to oppose Perry in the 2006 gubernatorial election. But Perry appointed Sharp to lead the Texas Tax Reform Commission that ultimately wrote the state's new business tax.
As chair of the commission, Sharp was instrumental in crafting the new tax code that had befuddled state officials for decades. While the tax helped get the state out of court trouble that threatened to shut down public schools and cut property taxes by a third, the tax has been a disappointment to small business owners and has not generated the amount of revenue expected. The business tax is expected to be revised during the upcoming legislative session.
At the time the proposal was unveiled, Sharp called it the "the best, fairest, most broad-based, comprehensive system to reduce property taxes that I have ever seen in 20 years that I've been around this process."
Sharp started his political career as a state representative from Victoria. Four years later he became a state senator, serving on the Senate Finance Committee. He was elected to the Texas Railroad Commission in 1986. He was elected state comptroller in 1990 and was re-elected in 1994.