February 18, 2020

Texas Dem Boss Daughter Could Be Favorite
at the Starting Gates in Special Senate Contest

By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor

A state representative whose father leads the Democratic Party in Texas appears to be the initial frontrunner for an upcoming opening across the rotunda in a special election that she's a good bet to enter in a district that's anchored in the liberal mecca of Austin.

Democratic State Rep. Gina Hinojosa probably could expect to have the inside track in a special contest that will be required to fill a vacancy that State Senator Kirk Watson will be leaving in his wake when he steps down from the upper chamber at the end of April.

Hinojosa could face competition in a special Senate election from other Democrats in the House and potential Democratic contenders outside the Capitol like Austin Mayor Steve Adler. The mayor has three years left in the local position that he won't be able to seek again as a consequence of the term limit ordinance here.

Watson confirmed a report that Capitol Inside posted late last night when he announced on Tuesday that he will be giving up the Senate District 14 seat this spring so he can take a job at the University of Houston.

The Democratic solon's departure will prompt Governor Greg Abbott to call a special election in the Senate district that Watson has represented for the past 13 years.

While the Republicans might take a shot at the Senate seat that they'd have a better chance to wrestle from the Democrats in a special vote, SD 14 will be destined to remain blue when voters choose a replacement for Watson barring unforeseen developments of a catastrophic magnitude

Several of Hinojosa's more experienced colleagues like Democratic State Reps. Donna Howard, Celia Israel and Eddie Rodriguez could take a look at potential SD 14 campaigns that they would be able to wage without the threat of losing safe House seats as long as the special contest is held before the general election in November. It isn't clear at this point which Democrats in the Austin delegation in the Capitol's west wing would qualify for a special race as SD 14 residents.

But Hinojosa might be the candidate to beat as a second-term lawmaker who shares more constituents with Watson than any of the other Democratic representatives who are based in Travis County where state government is anchored. The Texas Capitol and Governor's Mansion are both located in the House district where Hinojosa was elected initially in 2016.

As the daughter of Texas Democratic Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa, the younger Hinojosa would have the ability to raise substantial sums of money in a short period of time for a Senate bid in a special election with trial lawyers as a key source of campaign cash.

Hinojosa, who's an attorney, would hit the ground running in a special election as a high-energy legislator with substantial charisma, first-rate speaking abilities and a reputation as a fighter in the political arena.

Hinojosa emerged as a House candidate in 2016 when she defeated a half-dozen Democratic primary rivals with 57 percent of the vote. After winning the House District 49 seat without GOP opposition in her debut campaign, Hinojosa had a clear path in the primary election in 2018 before crushing a Republican challenger with 83 percent of the vote in her first race for re-election.

more to come ...


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