This Week in Texas: September 21, 2011

Posted September 21, 2011 in The Mignon Memo

Two influential state senators announced their retirements this week. Sen. Florence Shapiro (R-Plano) and Sen. Steve Ogden (R-Bryan) both announced they will not run for re-election. As chairs of the influential Education and Finance Committees in the Texas Senate, both members leave behind many achievements. These retirements triggered other political moves. Rep. Ken Paxton (R-Plano) and Scott O’Grady, a decorated Air Force fighter pilot, will run for Shapiro’s seat and Rep. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) will run for Ogden’s seat. State Board of Education member Marsha Farney and Jeff Fleece, a former vice chairman of the Travis County Republican Party, will run for Schwertner’s House District 20 seat.

Former state representative Corbin Van Arsdale and Ted Pataki, the son of former New York Gov. George Pataki, are out and Cedar Park City Councilman Tony Dale is in the Republican primary race for the newly drawn House District 149 based in Williamson County.

Rep. Randy Weber (R-Pearland) will run for the Congressional District 14 seat being vacated by presidential candidate Ron Paul. Other candidates include Pearland City Council member Felicia Harris; Michael Truncale of Jefferson County, a Texas State University System regent and a member of the State Republican Executive Committee; and Beaumont attorney Jay Old.

Rolando Pablos, a lawyer from the San Antonio who recently served as chair of the Texas Racing Commission was appointed by Governor Perry to the open seat on the Public Utility Commission. Perry has also reappointed Commissioner Ken Anderson Jr. for another term at the PUC.

Testimony in the redistricting case against the state in federal court in San Antonio wound up last week but the process of redistricting won’t end soon. The U.S. Department of Justice has declined to sign off on two of the four redistricting maps, setting up a fight between the U.S. Department of Justice and the Texas attorney general’s office. Although the DOJ did not take issue with the Texas Senate map or the State Board of Education map, it will oppose pre-clearance of the congressional map and the Texas House map based on their impact on minority voting rights. The federal judges considering the case in San Antonio may end up drawing maps for use in the 2012 elections.