By Oliver Ramsey
Republicans have near absolute control of the Texas House of Representatives. At 99 seats, they are just one seat short of a two-thirds majority. They may very well get that extra seat. As for Texas House Democrats, as a whole they will be as useful as furniture.
So what does this mean for El Paso? More specifically, what does this mean for Naomi Gonzalez?
Norma Chavez, who was at one-time a reliable supporter of the tort reform advocacy group, Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR), argued to no end that Gonzalez would vote against the district, workers, seniors, children, teachers, and so on, because Gonzalez was beholden to TLR. It was suggested that in a nearly even divided Texas House – 77 Republicans and 73 Democrats – Naomi would have to take some hard votes for TLR.
With 99 Republicans though, TLR probably does not need Naomi’s vote. It is quite possible that TLR will let Naomi vote as she pleases on so-called TLR votes. So would-be primary challengers are not going to find much, if any, Republican votes by Naomi. She can spend all next session strengthening her Democratic credentials.
Would-be primary challengers are also going to have a hard time finding money. In 2003, there were only 62 Democrats in the Texas House. Since that time, millions of dollars and thousands of hours were spent helping Democrats obtain 74 seats in the Texas House. But all that was lost this last election as Democrats were left with only 51 seats. Democratic donors and special interest groups cannot afford to invest in primary races in solidly Democratic districts, like Naomi’s, in the next election cycle. Besides soul searching, Democratic leaders will make modest attempts at recouping that which they lost. Gonzalez, on the other hand, will have plenty of money from TLR.
With no money and no so-called Republican voting record, challengers are going to have a hard time mounting any sort of serious to campaign against Gonzalez in 2012.
House members are elected to two-year terms, but it could be said that Naomi was elected to a four-year term.