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Callegari to retire

We will have at least one open State House seat in Harris County next year.

Rep. Bill Callegari

State Rep. Bill Callegari, a Katy Republican who chairs the House Committee on Pensions and the House Research Organization, said Monday that he wouldn’t seek another term in 2014.

Callegari, an engineer, took his seat in the House in 2001. He’s the 12th member of the Texas House to say he won’t be back. Several are running for other offices, while others are getting out of politics for now.

Republican Reps. Dan Branch of Dallas, Stefani Carter of Dallas, Brandon Creighton of Conroe, Harvey Hilderbran of Kerrville and Van Taylor of Plano are all seeking other offices.

Callegari is joining a group that won’t be on the ballot next year that also includes John Davis, R-Houston; Craig Eiland, D-Galveston; Tryon Lewis, R-Odessa; Rob Orr, R-Burleson; Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, and Mark Strama, D-Austin. Strama already resigned from the Legislature to take a private sector job. The special election to replace him is on this November’s ballot.

Rep. Callegari is finishing his seventh term in the House. I wish him well in his retirement. HD132 joins SD07 on the list of Harris County open seats for 2014, but with one major difference: HD132 is a seat that could be competitive in 2014, even more so in 2016 modulo any further redistricting. It was one of only two Republican-held districts that were slightly more Democratic in 2012 than in 2008, and that was in a year where Democratic turnout declined somewhat from 2008. I’m not saying this seat is going to make anyone’s short list of pickup opportunities, but consider: The partisan trend, and demography, are pointing in the right direction. Battleground Texas is in operation. Throw Wendy Davis in at the top of the ticket, and who knows what kind of a boost in performance is possible. The most opportune time to try to win a seat from the other guys is when it’s open, followed by when it’s being defended by a freshman. That’s 2014, and if necessary 2016. The road to a Democratic House majority runs through districts like HD132. It would be better to start contesting them sooner rather than later. Burka has more.

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