Two Democrats have put their names forward in the race for speaker of the Texas House.
On Friday, state Rep. Senfronia Thompson of Houston filed to run for speaker, becoming the first to do so. Thompson, also known as “Ms. T,” is the second longest serving member of the Texas House, having held office since 1973. She is also the longest serving woman and African-American in the history of the Texas Legislature. Both Republicans and Democrats have cited her as a potential candidate due to her extensive legislative experience. If elected, Thompson would be the first black woman to hold the position of speaker.
On Monday, state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer of San Antonio announced his intention to run. Martinez Fischer was first elected to the Texas House in 2000 and currently chairs the Business and Industry Committee. He sat out the 2017 legislative session after mounting an unsuccessful campaign for State Senate but recaptured his seat in the lower chamber in 2018. If elected, he would be the first Latino to serve as speaker.
So far, no Republicans have announced bids for the position of speaker. The GOP incumbent Dennis Bonnen is forgoing re-election in the wake of the “Bonnenghazi” scandal.
The race for Texas speaker is occurring in the backdrop of an intensely competitive race, where Democrats have a real shot of winning a chamber of state government for the first time in decades. After winning 12 seats in 2018, Democrats are just nine seats away from flipping the Texas House. The numbers give reason for Democrats to be optimistic. There are nine districts with Republican incumbents where Beto received more votes in 2018. And if recent polling holds on election day, the Democrats will flip 11 seats, more than enough to win a majority.
Thompson and Martinez Fischer are the first to enter the race for speaker but they will almost certainly not be the last. Other Democrats will likely throw their hat in the ring should the House flip, and many are adopting a “wait-and-see” mentality. For example, state Rep. Rafael Anchía of Dallas has signalled his intent to run if the Democrats win control.
Photo: senfroniathompson.com/ Hrebenar1/Wikimedia Commons