Former State House Speaker Pete Laney will not run for reelection next year.
Laney, D-Hale Center, held the House’s top job from 1993 to 2003, losing his spot to current Speaker Tom Craddick after Republicans captured a House majority in the 2002 elections. He made the unusual move of returning to the House floor after Craddick beat him, voting regularly with Democrats but hardly ever speaking on the House floor.
“I’m not leaving town,” Laney said. But not seeking another term “is best for what I need to do now.”
Laney worked well with then-Gov. George W. Bush, introducing Bush to the country from the House chamber on the night he claimed victory in the 2000 presidential election.
His seat has long been expected to turn Republican once he retires. GOP leaders tried to beat him in 2001 with a dramatic redrawing of his district, but he held on.
HD85 is almost definitely a seat that will flip next year. It’s at best a 60-40 GOP district, and without a longstanding incumbent like Laney running, it’s hard to see it bucking the overall partisan index. Anything can happen, of course, but all things being equal I’d assume that Laney’s 2004 challenger Kent Sharp is the frontrunner right now.