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There will be at least 15 seats in the Texas Legislature with no incumbents in next year's election; 13 state representatives and two state senators have announced their intent to retire or seek higher office.
They include Chris Paddie, a Republican from House District 9, who is not running for reelection. Paddie, who successfully killed efforts to ban taxpayer funded lobbying, is instead moving on to become a lobbyist.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, had criticized Paddie in an email for offering “bailouts” to electric companies that charged customers sky-high rates during the February blackout. Patrick called out Paddie for reportedly taking a lobbying job with the Association of Electric Companies of Texas, reported on by Texas Scorecard.
Paddie also announced he wouldn’t seek re-election after he was censured by the Harrison County Republican Party.
In House District 13, Ben Lemen, a Republican, announced he was retiring after 10 years of service. He posted on social media accounts that “responsibilities and duties outside of public office will require much more of my time moving forward” and “it is clear the current season of my public service is winding down for the near future.”
In House District 19, Republican James White is running for Texas Agricultural Commissioner, challenging Sid Miller, leaving his seat open.
In House District 38, Eddie Lucio III, a Democrat from Brownsville, said he isn’t running for reelection in order to “start the next chapter in my life with a focus on family, friends and business.”
In House District 50, Democrat Celia Israel isn’t running for reelection in order to consider running for mayor of Austin.
In House District 61, Phil King, a Republican, is running for the Senate District 10 seat, leaving his house position open.
In House District 63, Republican businessman Tan Parker is also running for state senate in District 12.
In House District 65, Democratic small businesswoman Michelle Beckley is running for U.S. Congress, leaving her post open.
In House District 70, Scott Sanford isn’t running for reelection, announcing he was retiring after 10 years of service to spend more time with his family and grandchildren.
In House District 93, Republican Matt Krause is running for Texas Attorney General in a growing field of candidates.
In House District 114, Democrat John Turner isn’t running for reelection in order to spend time with his family, leaving his seat, which covers parts of Dallas, open.
In House District 122, San Antonio Republican Lyle Larson, who increasingly broke ranks with Republicans, is not running for reelection after serving for 12 years. Following through on his commitment to term limits, he imposed them on himself.
Larson repeatedly introduced legislation proposing term limits of 12 years for all elected officials at the state level. In an email to constituents, he wrote, “As a strong proponent of term limits, I will follow the limits we previously proposed in this legislation.”
In House District 133, House GOP Caucus Chair Jim Murphy announced he wasn’t running for reelection in June, saying, he was "just looking forward to life's next great opportunity."
In Senate District 12, Republican Jane Nelson, who served for 28 years, longer than any other Senate Republican, isn’t running for reelection.
“I love my constituents, my staff, and my colleagues in the Senate and owe them, as well as my family, a debt of gratitude,” she said in a statement in July. “As this chapter closes, you can count on me to keep working to build a better Texas."
In 1992, Nelson became the 10th woman, and the 3rd Republican woman, elected to the Senate. In 1998, she became the first Republican woman to chair a standing Senate committee appointed by then-Lt. Governor Rick Perry – a position she held longer than any other senator. She also became the first woman to serve as the chair of the Senate Budget Committee.
In 2019, she became the first woman to preside over opening day of the Texas Senate. In 2020, she was elected with the most votes that any Texas Senate candidate has ever received.
In Senate District 24, Dawn Buckingham is running for Texas Land Commissioner in a growing field of candidates.
The members’ announcements come as the state legislature is working through redistricting.
Those with funds on hand, Transparency USA states, according to campaign finance laws, have several options. “Any funds remaining in an officeholder’s campaign account may be returned to the donor, given to other candidates or to certain charities, or used to run for another office,” the group says in a report listing the amount of money each member has on hand.
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Original Author: Bethany Blankley, The Center Square contributor