Hopson switches, Agosto drops out

Two pieces of news for the 2010 cycle, one good and one not good. For the latter first, State Rep. Chuck Hopson, who won a very tight race for re-election in 2008, has announced that he will run in 2010 as a Republican.

A press release from Hopson’s campaign said he thinks President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats do not represent the concerns and values of his East Texas district. Hopson is scheduled to hold a press conference on his switch later this afternoon.

In 2008, Hopson won re-election by 114 votes. He likely would have faced even more difficulty in 2010, considering that Democrats have lost some of their momentum from the 2008 election.

“It takes strength and integrity to stand against the special interests — and while some members have that strength, others, like Chuck Hopson, do not,” said state Democratic Party chairman Boyd Richie.

Richie said Hopson had told Democratic members that he’d rather retire from the House than become a Republican.

A letter from House Democratic Caucus Chair Jim Dunnam, which is more cordial to Hopson, is beneath the fold. It’s certainly true that as suburban Texas is becoming more Democratic, rural Texas is becoming more Republican, and Hopson likely read the same tea leaves that formerly-Republican State Rep. Kirk England did back in 2007. I’ll certainly take that trade demographically, but in the short run this is a blow to the Democrats’ chances of retaking the House, as was Rep. David Farabee’s retirement. At least we’re not still trying to get rid of Tom Craddick as Speaker. Greg and Phillip, who once worked for Hopson, have more.

On the better side, SBOE member Rick Agosto, a Democrat who was way too close to the wingnut faction of the Board, is not running for re-election.

Trinity University literature professor Michael Soto, 39, announced Thursday that he will seek the Democratic Party nomination for District 3, which stretches from San Antonio south to the border.

And several top Democratic Party leaders from San Antonio, including state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte and former State Board of Education member Joe Bernal, are backing Soto.

Agosto, who was first elected in 2006, said he needs to spend more time with his family and investment business.

“I’ve enjoyed my time there,” but being a state board member basically can be a full-time job, Agosto said.

Agosto has been the subject of several recent newspaper stories about business relationships with companies vying for contracts with the board.

He has denied any wrongdoing and atrributes the criticism to political back-biting on the board.

Agosto said his re-election decision is not related to this scrutiny.

Good riddance, and Agosto will hopefully be one of many bad SBOE incumbents to be back in the private sector after next year. Read more about Soto here. I look forward to hearing more about him and his campaign.

Today, I expect that our colleague Chuck Hopson will announce his intention to run as a Republican next election cycle. Chuck has assured me and a number of other Democrats of his intention to continue to vote as he has in the past, which has been with our Democratic delegation the vast majority of the time.

At a time when the Republican Party has continued to close its doors to anyone and everyone of moderation, the Democratic Party has equally accepted Conservatives, Moderates and Progressives. Our delegation is the stronger for that. Our position of inclusion, rather than exclusion, is what has resulted in our winning 6 Republican House seats in 2006, and winning 6 more Republican House seats in 2008. It is also what has resulted in changes to House leadership and policy direction on the House floor.

As for the future, this will have only a marginal impact on House Democrats’ inevitable progress toward a majority. Year in and year out there is always a certain amount of partisan turnover in individual seats, and we plan for that. However, the Democratic trend in the Texas House has been powerful and constant in recent years. Those who work to elect Democrats to the Texas House had forecast there would probably be a certain number of retirements this session that would impact the 2010 elections; there always are. Some of those changes would be in areas more difficult for us to compete without incumbency. Since we never know where these changes will come, we just plan for a number of them in general, and adjust the number of Republican held districts where we will compete aggressively .

Our overall goals and plans for 2010 have not changed, and we will gain a majority in the House in 2010.

Having served with Chuck for over a decade, I personally wish him and his wife, Billie, the best. Although I know Republican officials will publicly embrace him, unfortunately I doubt that the shrinking and increasingly extremist radical right core of the party will ever feel comfortable with him — that is, assuming he maintains his historical voting patterns. This will be their loss.


Jim Dunnam
House Democratic Leader

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7 Responses to Hopson switches, Agosto drops out

  1. Dennis says:

    Chuck Hopson is probably correct that President Obama and congressional Democrats don’t represent the views and concerns of his district. But that is more of a problem for his constituents, who apparently cannot comprehend what is in their own self-interests. Having an uninformed and resentful voter base is how the GOP plans to revive itself.

  2. Baby Snooks says:

    But that is more of a problem for his constituents, who apparently cannot comprehend what is in their own self-interests.

    That is a broad brush but one that can be used almost everywhere and for the most part politicians are about themselves, both Democrats and Republicans, and their loyalties are to themselves rather than party platforms and positions. When the demographics change, they change parties. A reality which of course raises the question of whether the “majority” in terms of how we look at things is really comprised of Democrats or Republicans or this new breed called Republicrats.

    The majority are Republicrats. Like Pamela Harriman said once, some things are Democratic things, some things are Republican things and some things are just money things. Everything, it seems, is a money thing at this point. Congress is nothing but a bordello at this point run by K Street and our state legislatures are headed in the same direction.

  3. Baby Snooks says:


    The Republicans told us deregulation would bring us lower utility bills. The few real Democrats told us it wouldn’t. The Democrats are now telling us health care reform will bring us lower health care costs. The few real Republicans are telling us it won’t. Who to believe? The few real Democrats and the few real Republicans.

    What health care reform will bring quite a few is forced health care insurance they cannot really afford and cannot really afford to use. Particularly given the support of bankruptcy reform which now allows the hospital to take your home to pay your bill. A bankruptcy reform bill supported by Republicrats. Who serve K Street.

  4. Dennis says:

    My point, Baby Snooks, was that if Mr. Hopson wishes to be considered a “leader”, then he needs to lead. That sometimes involves making voters aware of reality, hard as it may be for them to grasp. Changing course because he fears political defeat is cowardly, whether done by a Democrat or Republican.

  5. Baby Snooks says:

    My point, Baby Snooks, was that if Mr. Hopson wishes to be considered a “leader”, then he needs to lead.

    And my point is few lead and most serve only themslelves and “become” Democrat or Republican based on demographics of where they plan to run and as demographics change, you will probably see lots of them change parties. Beyond the parties, they still only serve themselves. And those who drop the big bucks in their back pockets.

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