State Rep. Pete Gallego has decided to run for Congress in CD23.
Gallego first won election to the Texas House in 1990 and has chaired various committees and also been part of the Democratic leadership, doing time as head of the House Democratic and the Mexican American Legislative Caucuses. That’s made him known to state and national Democrats who might be willing to help him in a congressional contest.
The district runs from San Antonio west to El Paso and includes all but five of the Texas counties that border Mexico.
San Antonio lawyer Manuel Peleaz, a Democrat, decided this week not to run for that congressional seat. He says he got lots of encouragement at home from others in San Antonio but that Gallego has locked down most of the important supporters west of Bexar County. That sets up as a “cage match,” as he put it, between Gallego and [former Rep. Ciro] Rodriguez, and with others, including John Bustamante, son of a former congressman, who announced as a Democratic candidate last month.
I’ve said I want to see new blood, and this counts as new blood. Nothing against Rep. Rodriguez, but Rep. Gallego has been an outstanding member of the Lege and will no doubt make an excellent Congressman. I’m a little concerned because Gallego’s legislative district is less solid than others, but Dems should still be favored to hold it. And hey, if you never risk anything you’ll never gain anything, either. I wish Rep. Gallego the best of luck.
There’s another primary battle to the west of CD23 as well.
Former El Paso City Councilman Beto O’Rourke said today that he will challenge longtime El Paso U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes in the Democratic primary election next year.
“He’s never had a real challenger,” said O’Rourke, who launched a website last night but hasn’t yet made an official announcement. “I think competition always produces better results than a monopoly.”
O’Rourke, who served on the City Council for six years before leaving the post this year, has long considered a congressional run, so his decision is not a big surprise. But it does set up another big political brawl in this city known for bruising Democratic melees.
“This is going to liven things up here,” said El Paso County Democratic Party Chairman Danny Anchondo.
Reyes and O’Rourke come from two long feuding camps in the local Democratic Party. Reyes, a former U.S. Border Patrol sector chief who was elected to Congress in 1996, is leader of the more conservative, establishment Democrats. O’Rourke, who runs a technology consulting and web design firm and is the son of a former El Paso County judge, is aligned with former state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh and more liberal, progressive Democrats.
CD16 is solid Dem in the new map, with Obama getting over 65% and Sam Houston 68%, so there’s certainly something to be said for this kind of challenge. Even if you lose, you can help shift things in a positive direction. Beyond that, I don’t know enough about either of these gentlemen to say anything more. I just hope the campaign energizes the Democratic electorate out there.
A bit closer to home, there will be a high profile primary fight in Travis County.
Former Judge Charlie Baird, who had previously formed a committee to explore running for Travis County District Attorney, announced on his website [Wednesday] that he will indeed run for the position.
Baird will face incumbent Rosemary Lehmberg in the March Democratic primary.
Baird served four years as a district judge and did not seek re-election last year. He was a judge on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for eight years during the 1990s.
Lehmberg has been district attorney since January 2009 and has worked as a prosecutor in the Travis County District Attorney’s Office since 1976.
As I said when I noted Baird’s initial interest, I don’t have any preference in this race. I have no complaints about Lehmberg, and as far as I know Baird was a good judge. As with CD16, I hope this is the kind of campaign that gets people fired up in the good way.
On the Republican side, Robert Miller has a number of updates. The main thing you need to know is that Dennis Bonnen’s brother may be in the Lege as well in 2013. Urk.
Finally, a candidate announcement that isn’t a contested primary.
If the name Keith Hampton sounds familiar it’s because he appeared on your ballot in 2010 as the Democratic nominee for Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (Place 6). [Thursday], he announced that he’s running for the statewide, all-Republican court in Place 8, currently held by Rick Perry appointee Elsa Alcala.
“I am excited to continue the work of reforming the Texas criminal judicial system that we began last cycle,” Hampton said. “I believe Texans want their justice system to enforce the law according to principle instead of ideology, so that each person may be treated equally, individually, and fairly before the law. I hope to use my campaign to advance this fundamental ideal.”
Like pretty much all of the downballot candidates last year, Hampton’s race got buried by the Governor’s race. Hopefully he’ll be running in a much less hostile environment next year.