Texas Legislature to Welcome 3 New House Members

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The legislature will welcome 3 new members after Tuesday’s Special Election: Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) in HD 123, John Cyrier (R-Lockhart) in HD 17, and Leighton Schubert (R-Caldwell) in HD 13.

Bernal stepped down from his post as a San Antonio city council member in November and will succeed Rep. Mike Villarreal who vacated his office in order to fully commit to his own Mayoral campaign. Bernal’s campaign was aided by the Texas Democratic Party, House Democratic Campaign Committee, Battleground Texas and others who wanted to ensure the normally safe Democratic seat didn’t slip into GOP hands during a low turnout special election — not to mention that Gov. Abbott was stumping for his opponent.

Bernal is well known in San Antonio for his work with the arts and music community. At City Hall, he took the lead on reigning in payday lenders and passing the controversial non-discrimination ordinance that gave certain protections to the LGBT community. As a young exuberant progressive Latino he is an incredible asset to the Democratic Party, and there is no doubt his star will continue to rise. On election night after the polls were closed he posted a simple note of gratitude, “Wow. Thank you.”

The remaining two seats were both previously occupied by Republicans.

In what seems like a trend-bucker in HD 17 which includes Bastrop, Caldwell, Gonzales, Karnes and Lee counties, John Cyrier beat out the considerably more conservative Brent Golemon. The seat opened up after Tim Kleinschmidt resigned to accept a position at the Department of Agriculture.

The election tightened up during the runoff in which Golemon began attacking Cyrier for speaking in a more bipartisan-friendly tone. Many observers were concerned about Golemon’s political positions, and he even claims that the Bastrop County Judge called him a, “right-wing, tea party, ultraconservative.” If the redundancy of the Judge’s characterization was to make a point, it is well taken.

There was a reversal of fortunes from the first round of the election to replace, now Senator, Lois Kolkhorst in HD 13. The ultimate victor Leighton Schubert had trailed his opponent Austin County Judge Carolyn Bilski by more than 10 points going into Tuesday’s runoff. Schubert ran a hyper-local focused campaign where the the source of each candidate’s funding became an issue. From KWHI: “Of Schubert’s contributions, 87% came from people inside District 13, and 13% from outside the District.  Bilski’s report shows that 37% of her contributions came from people inside District 13, with 63% coming from people outside the District.”

The musical chairs are still not all filled as there will be at least one more special election to fill the vacancy left in House District 124 by Senator-elect Jose Menendez.

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About Author

Joe Deshotel

Joe was born and raised in Beaumont, Tx, but live music and politics brought him to Austin. He has worked in and around government and elections for over a decade including for a member of US Congress, the Texas Legislature, the Mayor of Austin. He currently serves as Communications Director for the Travis County Democratic Party. He is most interested in transportation, energy and technology issues. He also likes Texas Hold'em and commuting on his electric skateboard. Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.

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