Ted Cruz, the state’s former solicitor general, has taken the first steps toward mounting a campaign to run for Texas attorney general in 2010.

Cruz, now a partner in Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in Houston and Washington, D.C., filed a campaign-treasurer designation Jan. 16 at the Texas Ethics Commission, according to the commission’s Web site. Cruz listed “attorney general” as the office he plans to seek. The Web site shows that Cruz also has filed the paperwork for a specific-purpose committee, Texans for Ted Cruz.

Texas Election Code §251.001 defines a specific purpose committee as one that supports or opposes one or more candidates, “all of whom are identified and are seeking offices that are known.”

Cruz, who did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment, named as his campaign treasurer Houston businessman George W. Strake Jr., who served as Texas secretary of state from 1979-1981 and was chairman of the Republican Party of Texas from 1983-1988.

Strake says “pending on the assumption that [Attorney General Greg] Abbott will resign or choose to run for another office, he [Cruz] is dead serious” about running for the AG’s job. “If Abbott runs again, then we’ll go back to square one,” Strake says.

Cruz served as solicitor general under Abbott from 2003 until May 2008, when he joined Morgan, Lewis.

A spokesman for the Abbott campaign office did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment on Abbott’s future political plans.

Under Election Code §251.001, the term “candidate” is defined as “a person who knowingly and willingly takes affirmative action for the purpose of gaining nomination or election to public office.” The filing of a campaign-treasurer appointment is one example of an affirmative action listed in the statute.

Tim Sorrells, deputy general counsel for the Ethics Commission, says under state Election Code §253.031, a candidate may not accept a campaign contribution or make a campaign expenditure, even from the candidate’s own funds, prior to designating a campaign treasurer.

As noted on the Morgan, Lewis Web site, Cruz served as director of the Office of Policy Planning for the Federal Trade Commission from 2001-2003, when he became solicitor general in Texas. A 1995 graduate of Harvard Law School, Cruz had served as the domestic policy adviser to the George W. Bush-Dick Cheney campaign in 2000.

Cruz currently heads Morgan, Lewis’ U.S. Supreme Court and national appellate litigation practice.