Catching up on some older stuff: The State House is down to 149 members as Elizabeth Ames Jones (R, San Antonio) declined her seat after being named to the state Railroad Commission.
On the morning she was to be sworn in to her third state House term, San Antonio Republican Elizabeth Ames Jones confirmed that she was declining her seat to fill a vacancy on the powerful Railroad Commission, a springboard to higher office.
"It's a very bittersweet day for me," Jones said as her House colleagues prepared to take their oath of office on the opening day of the 79th Texas Legislature. "I felt like this was an opportunity I could not pass up."
In accepting Gov. Rick Perry's appointment to the three-member commission, Jones, 48, a two-term House member and the daughter of a wealthy San Antonio oilman who "grew up in an oil patch," becomes one of the state's brightest Republican stars.
Jones has long been involved in Republican politics. In 1980, she worked with Karl Rove, believed to be the mastermind behind President Bush's rise to political prominence, on behalf of then-Gov. Bill Clements.
"We cut our teeth in politics," Jones said of herself and Rove.
A special election to replace Jones has been set for February 5. This is a strongly Republican district - Jones ran unopposed in 2004 and had only a Green Party opponent (who got 10%) in 2002. Nonetheless, Andrew hints that someone from the Democratic side will make a race of it. This article suggests a couple of names.
Until an election is scheduled, no one can officially declare their candidacy. But four politically connected people have expressed interest in the seat: Democrats Melissa Kazen and Chip Haass and Republicans Joe Straus III and George Pierce.
The district, which stretches from Olmos Park northeast to Windcrest and north past Loop 1604, is considered a Republican stronghold.
In the six general elections up to 2002, District 121 voters have consistently voted for Republican candidates in higher percentages than the rest of the state for all major statewide offices.
"That is a very Republican district," said U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, whose district largely overlaps the House seat. "I can't see a Democrat winning the seat."
Nevertheless, some Democrats consider the district winnable and are contemplating a run, hoping that strong name identification and a quickly mounted grass-roots operation will be key given the short time frame of a special election.