With Dewhurst and Perry out of state, senator gets promotion
By Richard Whittaker, 12:14PM, Tue. Jan. 3, 2012
There's been a minor hubbub about Gov. Rick Perry giving a quasi-endorsement to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst while they were on the stump together in Iowa. But with both of the state's top two elected officials out of state, who was acting governor?
Step up Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Jackson, R-La Porte.
There's supposed to be a governor on the ground at all times, and when the governor (in this case, Perry) is out of state, it's supposed to be the lite guv (Dewhurst) running the show. But with both of them on the stump in Iowa, the next on deck is the president pro tem (Jackson.) After that the line of succession goes through the speaker's office, on to the attorney general, and then finishes up going along the bench of the Court of Appeals.
Jackson was appointed the interim president pro tem at the end of the last session (there's a different one named at the beginning and end of each session: In 2013, it's scheduled to be Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio.) As for this latest short-term promotion, his staff said that they were contacted by letter before Christmas, informing the senator that he will be serving as acting governor from Dec. 27 to 1pm tomorrow, Jan. 4. This probably means he'll be picking up a nice little Christmas bonus: After all, Dewhurst has been $410.96 a day extra when he's filled in for Perry. The state's double-dipping rules mean Jackson would have to return his senate salary for those days, but since Texas senators only gross $7,200 a year (yup, you read that right), that may not be so much of a hardship.
The line of succession does raise an interesting point. If Perry gets elected president (don't laugh) and Dewhurst goes to the US Senate, then Jackson would become governor for real. However, since he's running for Congress, the whole line of succession would be thrown into confusion.