Changes in store for the Texas Legislature
The next election cycle will be different, thanks to retirements and redistricting

Believe it or not—even though the March 6, 2012, primary elections are still more than four months away and the November 2012 general election is more than a year away—election season is in full swing. Interesting developments are already taking shape.

Retiring legislators
Several long-time incumbents have announced that they will retire or not seek re-election, the most notable being the sitting chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, Sen. Florence Shapiro (R–Plano); Shapiro announced in September that she would not seek re-election to the Texas Senate. Shapiro has served in the Senate since 1992, has chaired the Senate Education Committee since 2003 and has been in public office in some capacity since 1979. Several candidates are expected to vie for her vacated seat; Rep. Ken Paxton (R–McKinney) and former fighter pilot Scott O’Grady have officially announced their intentions to run. It is not yet known who will replace Shapiro as chairman of the Senate Education Committee.

Also retiring are Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Steve Ogden (R–Bryan), who also served on the Senate Education Committee, Sen. Chris Harris (R–Arlington), Rep. Rick Hardcastle (R–Vernon) and Rep. Jim Jackson (R–Carrollton). Watch for more retirement announcements in the next couple of months.

Redistricting is also having a major impact on the upcoming election season. The new district maps, drawn by the 82nd Legislature, are still being contested in the courts; if they are upheld, many long-sitting legislators will face tough challenges in new, less-favorable districts. For instance, the new maps pit school finance expert and House Public Education Committee Vice Chairman Rep. Scott Hochberg (D–Houston) against fellow Democratic incumbent Rep. Hubert Vo (D–Houston) during the primary elections.

Over in the Senate, Sen. Wendy Davis (D–Fort Worth) will seek re-election in a newly drawn district with a smaller percentage of registered Democrats. Davis has been a strong ally of ATPE in the Senate and a supporter of ATPE’s priorities. She will face a tough challenge from several Republican candidates, including sitting House members Rep. Kelly Hancock (R–Fort Worth) and Rep. Mark Shelton (R–Fort Worth).

Dates to remember
It’s important to note that none of the upcoming races will be official until at least Nov. 12, which is the first day candidates can officially file for a place on the ballot. Here are some other important dates to remember for the upcoming primary season:

  • Dec. 12, 2011—Last day candidates can file for a place on the ballot.
  • Jan. 6, 2012—First day to apply for ballot by mail.
  • Feb. 6, 2012—Last day to register to vote.
  • Feb. 21, 2012—First day of early voting for the primary election.
  • Feb. 28, 2012—Last day to apply for ballot by mail.
  • March 2, 2012—Last day of early voting.

Questions? Contact ATPE Governmental Relations.

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Essentials contains legislative advertising contracted for by Doug Rogers, Executive Director, Association of Texas Professional Educators, 305 E. Huntland Dr., Suite 300, Austin, TX 78752-3792, representing ATPE.

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