Republican Rep. Ron Pauls retirement announcement put another seat in play in Texas.
Texas might very well be the biggest land of opportunity for House candidates in 2012.
Not only is the state gaining four House seats, but there’s also an additional open seat in play after Rep. Ron Paul’s (R) retirement announcement.
The new Congressional map is expected to become law this month, and then the Justice Department must pre-clear it. Texas insiders expect the courts to draw the final lines eventually, but that hasn’t stopped Congressional hopefuls from gearing up to run for the open seats.
“It’s a risk, but it’s a calculated risk. Candidates have to get out there, start raising money, starting putting together an organization knowing that the map, frankly, could change,” said Corbin Casteel, a Republican strategist who works extensively in Texas. “That’s the gamble they take.”
The open 25th district, currently represented by Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D), was redrawn to include the area northwest of Austin. Doggett indicated he’ll run in a neighboring, more Democratic district instead.
Texas Republicans mentioned state Reps. Sid Miller and Jason Isaac as likely GOP candidates to run in this conservative district. Republicans also say Donna Campbell, Doggett’s GOP challenger last cycle, could run for this seat. Conservative activist Bill Burch is also close to announcing a bid.
The ink on the new Congressional map was not even dry before candidates expressed interest in the new 33rd district. Former Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams and former Secretary of State Roger Williams dropped out of the Senate race to run for this House seat instead.
Mapmakers fidgeted with Eastern Texas’ Congressional boundaries before they settled on the new 36th district. Originally, state Rep. James White (R) expressed interest in the seat, but sources say the final map forced him to reconsider and decline.
State Sen. Mike Jackson, a veteran GOP lawmaker, is strongly considering running for the new 36th district, multiple Texas sources said. Jackson lives in the 36th district, but his legislative district includes much of Paul’s neighboring district — prompting speculation that he could instead run there. Jackson’s disadvantageous geographical base in the 36th district creates an opportunity for a candidate — such as former Pasadena Mayor John Manlove — from the conservative Pasadena area to run against him in the primary.
Paul’s announcement that he would not seek re-election opens the floodgates for Republicans who have been eyeing the seat for decades. State Rep. Larry Taylor (R) released a statement Tuesday saying he’s been encouraged by supporters to run. In addition to Jackson, Republicans say state Rep. Dennis Bonnen is a potential GOP candidate.