With the 83rd session of the Texas legislature and all of its specials behind us, members have begun jockeying towards the 2014 elections. Four current and former members have made announcements significant in the last two weeks. First, Rep. Harvey Hilderbran (R-Uvalde) made the long expected announcement that he is indeed a candidate for Comptroller in 2014, meaning House District 53 will be open in 2012. Joining him in the race for Comptroller, former one-term Rep. Raul Torres (R-Corpus Christi) officially joined the race in the last week as well.
Two incumbent representatives officially declared they would not be seeking re-election in 2014: Rep. Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie) and Rep. John Davis (R-Clear Lake, Houston). Both are current committee chairmen and, especially in the case of Pitts, are considered allies of Speaker Strauss. There are now nine members of the Texas House who were elected in 2012 confirmed to be either retiring or not seeking re-election to their current House seats. Two Members of the Texas Senate are confirmed not to be seeking re-election.
Several other members announced that they intend to seek re-election, including: Rep. Wu (D-Houston), Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock (R-Killeen), Rep. Otto (R-Dayton), and Sen. Carona (R-Dallas).
Click below the jump to get more details on these major shakeups in the 2014 elections.When Rep. Hilderbran jumped in, he wasted no time in offending and alienating a large portion of the state. He released an introductory video saying how tired he is of “big government liberals.” Any and all pretense of being someone others can work with was lost at that moment. The video fails the viewers by mentioning Rep. Hilderbran's ten-point plan to protect taxpayers but never says what a single point of that plan is. You can watch the video below:
Fmr. Rep. Torres introduced himself to voters with a similar video where he talked up his Texas Tomorrow plan. However, at the 24 second mark, right when Rep. Torres is speaking about how things are getting better, one can clearly see Minute Maid Park in the background, home of the last place Houston Astros. Imagery of things to come, for sure.
The retirement of Rep. Pitts of District 10 is a big hit for those that love the good ole boys club and business as usual. One need look no further than the article written by Paul Burka upon his retirement to see how much the establishment loved him. That said, nature abhors a vacuum, and Rep. Pitts filled the role of Chairman of Appropriations as well as any Republican could, and often worked to include the Democrats on his committee, such as Vice-Chair Sylvester Turner. Whomever the new chair may be is much less likely to be as accommodating as the retiring chair.
Finally, regarding the unknown, long-time Rep. John Davis, C.J. Farley, President of Bay Area New Democrats (BAND), a Democratic club based within HD 129, released the following statement to Burnt Orange Report via e-mail:
“We wish Rep. Davis a peaceful retirement. During his last legislative session, there were several votes we agreed with him on, particularly House Bill 5, the education bill that passed with widespread bipartisan support. However, we disagree with his nay vote on House Bill 950, the Texas state version of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which was vetoed by Gov. Perry. We also disagree with his aye vote on House Bill 2, the bill that passed in the second special session that introduces sweeping restrictions on access to safe reproductive health care and abortions, and which we expect to be overturned upon legal review. We cannot help but note that in his final term as the state representative of House District 129, Rep. Davis also introduced and passed legislation that could ultimately raise water tax rates by 13.6 % for his constituents.”
There is much left to be decided before the filing deadline in early December, but Burnt Orange Report will continue to keep a close eye on all of the races for the Texas legislature as the cycle continues.