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Hochberg bows out, Gallego makes it official

I am totally bummed out by this.

The Legislature’s foremost expert on school finance and one of its top public education advocates, state Rep. Scott Hochberg, D-Houston, confirmed this afternoon that he won’t seek re-election next year.

Hochberg, who took office in 1993 and is now the vice chairman of the House Education Committee and the chairman of the education subcommittee on the House Appropriations Committee, said the time had come for him to pursue something new.

“Being in this job and trying to do it well is a continual thing, as any member will tell you, after a certain amount of time, I think the grind just wears people down,” he said, “I love working on all the problems we work on, but it’s 24/7 and it makes it hard to focus on anything in specific.” He brushed off any suggestion that his absence would leave an void of leadership on school finance issues.

“Nobody’s indispensable,” he said. “The state survived a lot of years before I was in the Legislature, and will continue to after I’m not.”

That’s true, and it’s completely in chacter for Rep. Hochberg to say something like that, but let’s face it: The Lege will miss him, especially in a year where school finance will be once again near the top of the list. So far I’m aware of two people who have expressed an interest in running to succeed him. One is Joe Madden, currently the chief of staff for Rep. Garnet Coleman and the executive director of the Legislative Study Group, the other is Jamaal Smith, former Execuitve Director, Deputy Campaign Manager, and Campaign Manager for the Harris County Democratic Party and Coordinated Campaign. Both would be good candidates; we’ll see if one steps aside or if they both file. I join many others in thanking Rep. Scott Hochberg for his service in the Lege, I wish him the very best for the future, and I look forward to supporting his successor. Greg has more.

Also leaving the Lege, in this case seeking a promotion, is Rep. Pete Gallego, who made his official filing for CD23 yesterday.

Gallego will formally become a candidate on his 50th birthday. He spent Thursday in San Antonio raising money for his congressional bid.

“I run every race as if it’s a tough race. This is no different — except that my opponent this time self-funds his campaign,” said Gallego, a 20-year veteran of the Texas House.

Canseco, R-San Antonio, has bankrolled $460,641 for his campaign, nearly four times the $133,233 Gallego reported in his war chest, according to the Federal Election Commission.

However, Canseco also has nearly $700,000 in campaign debt from a $1 million loan from a previous election cycle.

Democrat John Bustamante, a San Antonio lawyer, has $260, according to the FEC, and is expected to challenge Gallego in the March 6 primary.

The national parties have targeted District 23, redrawn by a federal court after Democratic challenges to a Republican redistricting plan passed by the Legislature.

The Lege’s loss would be Congress’ gain if he wins. I feel pretty confident that this one will be on the national radar. Stace has more.

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