If there’s such a thing as a one-man think-tank, Austen Furse might qualify. He’s a reliable conservative and excellent businessman with political credentials stretching from Matagorda County to the White House. He’s also the only person to have now publically declared himself as a candidate for the soon-to-be-vacant Senate District 17 seat.
Austen was in Austin today and I had the chance, somewhat accidentally, to catch up with him. We’ve been professional acquaintances for more than a decade and it’s refreshing to see someone with his background and stature preparing a run for the Senate. Austen’s about as principled as they come, and his soft-spoken persona can be misleading — he’s not one to shy from a debate. He’s well-read and tackles his work — whether it’s his investment business or local politics — with astonishing energy.
Incumbent Republican State Sen. Kyle Janek, a Houston doctor, announced recently that he’s going to be resigning his seat in early June. That means a special election to fill the vacancy would occur on the same day as the November general election. Janek, who tended to be one of the more right-thinking members in the historically left-tilted Senate, is actively supporting Furse’s candidacy.
Several other folks are said to be considering a run, including another friend of mine, conservative activist Gary Polland. (Some leftists are also thought to be looking to make a run, such as former gubenatorial candidate Chris Bell and current State Rep. Scott Hochberg — but this is a very Republican seat.)
One can expect a spirited campaign focused heavily on substance. That’s good for conservatives, and even better for Texas.