Vince and BOR pass along the word from QR that State Rep. Robby Cook will not run for re-election in 2008. This feels like a probable loss for the Dems next year - Cook was the only sitting Dem to come close to a loss in 2006, and his district is fairly red, though not hopelessly so, as Bill Moody's 49.3% attests. Still, if Tim Kleinschmidt runs again, he'd have to be considered the favorite, so I'm mentally considering this to be a counterbalance to Rep. Kirk England's party switch. We'll see how it goes.
UPDATE: Capitol Inside gives me some hope:
Bastrop County Judge Ronnie McDonald is one of the first names to emerge in Democratic circles as a potential replacement for Cook on the ballot next year. McDonald, who's been county judge for almost nine years, considered a race for the House four years ago when Cook appeared to be on the verge of switching parties while being wooed by Governor Rick Perry and other high-level Republicans. But McDonald decided to stay in his current position after Cook spurned the GOP and filed for re-election as a Democrat.
Cook went on to defeat Republican activist Jean Kilgore in 2004 in a rematch with 54 percent of the vote. While McDonald won re-election with 54 percent of the vote in a fight against Republican Paul Pape last year, Cook squeaked by Kleinschmidt with less than 49 percent support in a race that included a Libertarian candidate who claimed 3 percent.
Kleinschmidt, a Lexington attorney, came closer than any other Republican challenger in House races for seats held by Democrats that the GOP had targeted in 2006. Buoyed by his showing against a veteran lawmaker despite the defeat, Kleinschmidt has thrown his name in the ring once again as a candidate for the HD 17 seat. But Kleinschmidt and other Republicans have been operating under the assumption that Cook would be a candidate for re-election in a rural district that covers a wide swath of the coastal plains between Austin and Houston.
HD 17 takes in Bastrop, Burleson, Colorado, Fayette and Lee counties and a slice of Brazos County as well. But Brazos (sic) County, where McDonald has been the top local official since 1999, is more than twice the size of any other county in HD 17 and contains about 40 percent of its residents.
McDonald has been a political trailblazer as Bastrop County's first African-American county judge. He was the first African-American yell leader in Aggieland before graduating from Texas A&M University and pursuing a career in government. McDonald worked for John Sharp in the Comptroller's Office before deciding to enter politics himself.