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Senators Draw Lots to Determine Terms

The Texas Senate relied on chance Wednesday to determine which of them would serve for four years and which would serve for two years. For some legislators, the luck of the draw could have bigger political implications.

State Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, reacts to learning he picked a four-year term in the Senate term lottery on Jan. 23, 2013.

Nearly three months after Election Day, the Texas Senate allowed the luck of the draw Wednesday to determine who among them will serve two-year terms and who will serve for four years before their next election.

The unusual practice of drawing for terms traditionally takes place the first session after the Legislature redraws the state’s Senate districts. Last year, all 31 Senate districts were on the ballot. Unless new maps are drawn between now and then, Wednesday’s drawing determined which half of the Senate will be back on the ballot in 2014. The results could help influence some senators’ future political plans, such as if they run for statewide office or re-election.

One by one, senators walked up to the front of the chamber and picked an envelope, each with a piece of paper inside a capsule. The papers were numbered 1-31. Senators who picked an even number will serve a two-year term. Senators who picked an odd number got a four-year term.

The following senators ended up with two-year terms: Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels; Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas; Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth; Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville; Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls; Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills; Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Southside Place; Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville; Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston; Sen. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney; Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown; Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo; Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin; Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas; Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston.

The following senators landed four-year terms: Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury; Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock; Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston; Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler; Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay; Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy; Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen; Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville; Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound; Sen. José Rodríguez, D-El Paso; Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood; Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio; Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio; Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands; Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo. The winner of the special election in Senate District 6 will also serve for four years.

Some senators who drew the two-year envelope likely would have preferred to get some more tenure before facing voters again, and would have preferred the four-year term. For instance, Campbell, who is in her first term after beating long-time GOP Sen. Jeff Wentworth, could face a Republican challenge from San Antonio, where the establishment would like to bring the seat home. And some, notably Davis, represent districts that are less dangerous, politically speaking, in presidential election years than in gubernatorial years. She's been elected twice in a Republican-leaning district, both times with Barack Obama at the top of the ticket to help draw Democratic voters to the polls.

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