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Hunting King, and Other Trail Stories

Decennial redistricting will likely produce at least one primary challenger for veteran lawmaker Tracy King, D-Batesville.

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Decennial redistricting will likely produce at least one primary challenger for veteran lawmaker Tracy King, D-Batesville. King represented House District 80 from 1995 to 2003 and then regained his seat in 2005.

Redistricting has pulled HD-80 into a swath of Webb County, which includes the city of Laredo on the Texas-Mexico border. That has Webb County Pct. 3 Commissioner Jerry Garza seriously considering a run for the House.

“[Right now] I am just trying to see what kind of support I would get. Obviously the demographics are really good for somebody out of Webb County,” Garza said during a recent interview. His current duties in the court preclude him from making a formal announcement for months, he said, but he appears in the process of already crafting his pitch to potential voters who for more than a decade have associated the district with King.

It’s not about what King isn’t doing or hasn’t done, Garza said, but rather what the commissioner said is his own best move forward.

“It has absolutely nothing to do with Rep. King and everything to do with what I feel I can offer," he said. "A different perspective and a little change is not necessarily a bad thing."

Laredo is traditionally thought of as Democratic state Rep. Richard Peña Raymond’s turf, and that’s not likely to change. His district remains largely concentrated within the city’s limits, but the new HD-80 includes the outskirts on the city’s north side, where Garza resides and where he represents the county.

Asked whether he’s concerned the maps will hold up to legal challenges, Garza said the battles over redistricting usually involve U.S. House seats and state Senate districts. But, he said, he’s willing to see what happens.

“I have a pretty high-risk tolerance," he said, "so I’ll take my chances if I do decide to go that route."

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John Bustamante, a San Antonio patent lawyer who is the son of former U.S. Rep. Albert Bustamante, D-San Antonio, will run for Congress next year. He's seeking the Democratic nomination for the CD-23 seat now held by first-term U.S. Rep. Francisco "Quico" Canseco, R-San Antonio.

That could be a busy primary. Former U.S. Rep Ciro Rodriguez, the Democrat who lost the seat to Canseco last November, is nosing around. Others could get in, too; state Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, is among those who've been mentioned as possible candidates, and he says he's considering it; and Manuel Pelaez-Prada, an attorney who's also the chairman of the Brooks Development Authority, is also looking. The district is geographically huge, stretching from San Antonio west to El Paso County.

Bustamante comes in with a known political name, but that could work against him as well as for him. His father was a Bexar County commissioner and county judge who served in Congress from 1985-93. His political career ended when he was convicted of accepting bribes and was sent to prison for more than three years.

The younger Bustamante went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and then to law school at the University of Texas.

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Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth says he'll run for another term in the Texas House. One change; he's ditched longtime political consultant Bryan Eppstein for the Murphy-Turner outfit.

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Veronica Gonzales, D-McAllen, will run for reelection after all. There was some question about that after lawmakers redrew the South Texas political map. In their efforts to protect fellow Republican Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, lawmakers upended Gonzales' HD-40. She's been scouting the new district and decided to run after all.

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Bennett Ratliff picked up an endorsement from Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, in his race for the HD-115 seat. Ratliff, a Coppell school board member and the son of former Sen. Bill Ratliff and brother of State Board of Education member Thomas Ratliff, wants to replace Jim Jackson, the Carrollton state rep and former Dallas County Commissioner who announced his retirement earlier this summer.

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Rep. Linda Harper-Brown, R-Irving, might not be paired with freshman Rep. Rodney Anderson, R-Grand Prairie, after all; his campaign is telling the Austin American-Statesman he's going to challenge Sen. Chris Harris, R-Arlington, in 2012.

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Put Ted Pataki — the son of the former New York governor and now an employee of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst — on the list of people looking at an open House seat in Williamson County. He told the Austin American-Statesman that he's looking at it.

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