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.
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.
House Democratic Leader