McALLEN, Texas — (Border Report) — Two South Texas state senators have drawn the short straw in the Legislature’s lottery to determine which legislators will be elected to two- or four-year terms.
Texas Senators Juan “Chui” Hinojosa and freshman Morgan LaMantia, both Democrats representing the South Texas frontier, will each serve two-year terms. State Senator Judith Zaffirini, a Laredo Democrat, was the only member of South Texas to win a four-year term in a lottery held Wednesday in Austin.
The Texas Constitution requires all members of the Texas Senate elected after a change of constituency to draw lots to determine how long they serve. Thereafter, senators are elected to four-year terms over the next decade. The lottery guarantees that half of the Senate will hold district elections every two years.
After the lottery held Wednesday at the State Capitol, Hinojosa issued a statement: “I am honored that the voters of Senate District 20 have placed their trust in me by re-electing me in 2020 and 2022. looking forward to being re-elected next year. I will work tirelessly in this session to continue to address issues that are a priority for our families, the business community, and improve our quality of life and the Texas economy.”
He said the issues he intends to focus on include education, health care, the economy, workforce development, and South Texas infrastructure development.
Hinojosa made no mention of immigration or border security. Last January, he was appointed by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick to the new Interim Border Security Committee, which oversaw public funding for border security initiatives such as Governor Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star.
More than $4 billion in public funds has been allocated to border security, including the construction of additional border fences in South Texas.
Hinojosa served as vice chairman of the Senate Finance Committee from 2009 to 2020 and is expected to re-hold the position. However, Senate committee assignments have yet to be announced by Patrick’s office.
LaMantia, the first woman to represent the 27th Texas Senate District, which includes Brownsville, made no short-term statements and ended the week positive tweet, writing: “What a great first week of classes! I enjoyed meeting with many of my colleagues and constituents who came to my office.”
Zaffirini wrote on her Facebook page: “4 YEARS! … It gives me the opportunity to focus on serving the families of our area without having to campaign.”
She said the senators chose in alphabetical order, and by the time she had to choose, one two-year term and one four-year term remained open. She said that Senator John Whitmire, a Democrat from Houston, chose a two-year term, which left her with a remaining four-year term. “I was delighted,” she wrote.
Sandra Sanchez can be contacted at [email protected]