March 30, 2015 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Between the Lines: Everything’s Bigger in Texas, Even the Opportunities

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Republican Rep. Ron Paul’s 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 theres also an additional open seat in play after Rep. Ron Pauls (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 hasnt stopped Congressional hopefuls from gearing up to run for the open seats.

Its a risk, but its 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. Thats 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 hell 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, Doggetts 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 Pauls neighboring district prompting speculation that he could instead run there. Jacksons 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. 

Pauls 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 hes been encouraged by supporters to run. In addition to Jackson, Republicans say state Rep. Dennis Bonnen is a potential GOP candidate. 

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