Every ten years senators have their fate decided for them by a capsule in a white envelope with the odd or even number inside. It’s almost like the short story by Shirley Jackson, with a decorative glass bowl instead of a black box to pull from.
The Texas Senate follows the federal government’s tradition of staggered elections, built so that in the event of some national crisis, the Senate and House would have some familiar faces. Texas Senate terms normally last four years, but all were up for reelection last year because of last year’s redistricting.
Wednesday morning, before adjournment, the Senate floor hushed down to a nervous whisper as the lawmakers each approached the front after their name was called. Half the Senate will be back up for reelection in 2014. Here’s a list of who drew which.
Senators with two-year terms drew even numbers:
Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels)
John Carona (R-Dallas)
Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth)
Bob Deuell (R-Greenville)
Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls)
Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills)
Joan Huffman (R-Southside Place)
Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville)
Dan Patrick (R-Houston)
Ken Paxton (R-McKinney)
Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown)
Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo)
Kirk Watson (D-Austin)
Royce West (D-Dallas)
John Whitmire (D-Houston)
Senators with four-year terms drew odd numbers:
Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury)
Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock)
Rodney Ellis (D-Houston)
Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler)
Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay)
Glenn Hegar (R-Katy)
Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen)
Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville)
Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound)
Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso)
Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood)
Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio)
Leticia Van dePutte (D-San Antonio)
Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands)
Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo)
and the winner of the upcoming special election for Senate District 6
Update at 2:30 p.m.:
“Only in America,” state Sen. John Whitmire said, would a high-stakes process like this take place so calmly. He’ll be up for re-election in 2014, but as dean of the Texas Senate it’s unlikely he probably won’t have much to worry about.
“Thank the Lord,” Sen. Leticia Van de Putte told one of her staffers, as she drove her electronic chair away from the ballot bowl with an odd number and a four-year term.
Others were not so lucky—or at least, the two-year terms will force some tough decisions about their political futures.
But for now, Davis said in a press statement that whether she has a two or a four year term, her top priority is to continue to be the voice of her district. “My commitment to restoring $5.4 billion in cuts to public education, to building our economy and fostering good paying jobs, and to ensuring that quality health care is available for Texas families is unwavering,” she said.