Caught your breath yet from the HD48 special election? Good, because another one is hot on its heels, this time in Dallas County.
State Rep. Ray Allen, a Grand Prairie Republican known for his support of gun rights and knowledge of the corrections industries, announced Thursday that he's leaving office immediately, in the middle of his seventh term.
Mr. Allen had already decided not to seek re-election in November, ending a roller-coaster career that saw him co-author historic legislation to let Texans carry concealed guns but become embroiled in a still-unresolved investigation into his out-of-state lobbying practice.
Mr. Allen said he decided to resign early because he's tired of being broke, he no longer lives in the district and he wanted to give the governor time to call a special election to fill the seat before lawmakers meet this spring to deal with school-finance issues.
He was first elected in November 1992 and took office in January 1993.
State representatives make $600 a month, and Mr. Allen dropped his out-of-town lobby clients when questions arose about his lobbying practice.
The lawmaker said he has exhausted his savings, and while he has some income from teaching concealed-carry classes, he hopes to hang out a lobbying shingle in Austin.
"I couldn't hang on until June" through another special session, said Mr. Allen, 55. "Right now I could go down to apply for food stamps and be fully eligible to get them. And that's no hyperbole, that's truth. I can't afford to live like that anymore."
But, he said, he leaves with no regrets and is grateful for his time in office.
"It was the most incredible blessing to be able to sit where decisions are made, to feel like I've made a difference in the things I cared about," he said.
Mr. Allen also had faced some tough re-election battles recently, winning in 2004 with 52 percent of the vote after a battle with Democrat Katy Hubener.
Ms. Hubener is running again and has no opposition in seeking the Democratic nomination. Two Republicans, Kirk England and Edward Smith, are seeking the GOP nomination.
I kind of doubt he'd do that, and frankly it's probably better strategy for him to put the election in March, because the odds are better here that a Republican will hold the seat than they were in HD48. Unlike that Travis County district, which has trended strongly Democratic since 2002, HD106 has been fairly static. Counting all contested races from 2002 - and there were a boatload, thanks to many countywide campaigns - the GOP got 57.1% of the vote overall. Allen was unopposed, and was named on 63.5% of all ballots; for comparison, State Sen. Chris Harris was also unopposed on that ballot, and was named on 60.4% of them.
Looking at the 2004 totals, there was a little bit of movement in the Dems' direction, but not very much. For the six contested races other than Allen's, the GOP got 56.4% of the vote. Allen, of course, underperformed by four points, in part to Hubener's strong challenge, and in part to his own ethical woes. It's a little hard for me to say where the advantage lies right now. Hubener's the most experienced candidate, and the wind seems to be in the Democrats' direction - for sure, if she wins here, that's as clear a sign as you could ask for - but with Allen out of the race and with no obvious connection to the DeLay machine, the reform issue isn't so much of a factor. I think Hubener's a slight favorite, but this should be a tough race.
Assuming the election is in March, or in May just before a special session, the Democrats could have as many as three more representatives in Austin than they did for the last year's sessions. If that happens, things ought to be a lot more interesting. At the very least, cooperation from any recalcitrant Republicans, whether they survive their primary challenges or not, ought to cost Tom Craddick more in the way of concessions. And boy, will that be fun to watch.
So stay tuned. Hubener's statement on the upcoming special election is beneath the fold.
Statement from Katy Hubener on the Special Election in State House District 106
I am delighted to announce my candidacy for the Special Election in State House District 106 to fill the vacancy created by Representative Ray Allen's resignation. The vacancy will take effect at midnight tonight and the Governor is expected to call a Special Election in February.
I may not have been able to claim victory in the last election, but all of HD 106 can claim victory today as one more incumbent of this do-nothing Legislature heads for the door early.
The voters of this district have the opportunity to elect someone who wants to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. That’s the kind of Legislator I will be. I will work across party lines to help find common-sense solutions to the challenges facing our state.Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 20, 2006 to Election 2006 | TrackBack