This Week in Texas: Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Posted October 2, 2019 in The Mignon Memo

TEXLEGE:  Rep. Bohac to Retire, Rep. Israel to Chair, Rep. Lang to Run Afterall

On September 25th, Texas State Representative Dwayne Bohac (R-Houston) announced he will retire from the Legislature at the end of his term.  He has been a member of the Texas House since 2003, prioritizing measures to lower taxes, secure the border, reduce crime and improve public education during his tenure.  This past session he authored the “Character Education Bill,” which requires the state to incorporate positive character traits into public school curriculum.  He is also known for passing the “Merry Christmas Bill,” which allows teachers and students to offer holiday greetings without fear of litigation.  He won election to the House in 2018 by a slim margin of 47 votes and without an incumbent on the ballot in the next election, the seat is in peril of flipping.

Also on September 25th, Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin) was named Chair of the Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee.  She replaces Rep. César Blanco who recently announced his run for the Texas Senate.  Rep. Israel has served in the House since 2014, and also serves as Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus.  In her new role, Rep. Israel will work to help Democrats win seats in the Texas House, though she says her vision goes beyond party.  “My goal is to get back to those times when you’re judged by the content of your bill, not by the letter that’s after your name.”

Finally, Rep. Mike Lang (R-Granbury) announced Friday evening that he will run for re-election to the Texas House, after first announcing his retirement two days prior in order to run for Hood County Commissioner.  His change of heart came after hearing from community members and conservative leaders who stressed the importance of his service in the Legislature during a redistricting legislative session.  Rep. Lang serves as Chair of the House Freedom Caucus and is running for a third term.

U.S. Rep. Thornberry is 6th Texas Republican Member to Announce Retirement

United States Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) announced Monday his decision to retire from Congress, making him the 6th Texas Republican to do so ahead of the 2020 election.  Rep. Thornberry was first elected to the U.S. House in 1994 and is one of the longest-serving Texans in Washington from either party.

The other five Texas Republicans retiring from Congress include Rep. Pete Olson (R-Sugar Land), Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Midland), Rep. Will Hurd (R-Helotes), Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Coppell) and Rep. Bill Flores (R-Bryan).  Additionally, in the 2018 election cycle, six other Texas Republicans retired from Congress and two more ultimately lost their re-election bids.  Of the 25 Texas Republicans in the U.S. House in 2016 when President Donald Trump was elected, only eleven are slated to be members of Congress after the 2020 election.

Only in Austin…

United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Texas Legend Willie Nelson enjoyed a visit during the Texas Tribune Festival on Saturday in Austin.  Described as “SXSW for political geeks,” TribFest is an annual event drawing politicos from across the country for two days of panels, podcasts and presentations, not to mention political celebrity sightings.  Featured participants this past weekend included opening keynote speaker U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, who announced he is considering a run for President in 2024; Democratic candidates for President Michael Bennet, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Amy Klobuchar and Beto O’Rourke; many Texas House and Senate members, as well as many Texas city, county, state and federal elected officials; and closing keynote speaker Nancy Pelosi.