Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.
Kristin Tassin, the president of the Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees, is running against state Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, in the 2018 GOP primary.
"I’m officially running," Tassin told The Texas Tribune on Thursday. "The final decision really came down to the fact that the state Legislature is just not getting the job done on many issues that are important to families in Texas."
Tassin citied issues including property tax reform and public education. "I feel like we need somebody in the Legislature who's going to stand up for those things and bring real solutions and not be afraid to stand up to special interests," she said.
Tassin has been an outspoken advocate for public education, penning a number of op-eds that have taken aim at the Senate — and Huffman — for how they have approached the issue. In one of those op-eds, Tassin took Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to task for his derisive use of the term "educrats."
"Most of us are parents, many with conservative views and values, who ran for the school board or got involved in our school districts in order to improve education and make a difference for the children in our communities and across the state of Texas," Tassin said.
In the interview, Tassin said Huffman has "really been no friend to education," pointing to Huffman's vote during the regular session paving the way for a private school tuition subsidy bill to reach the floor. Huffman was among three Republicans who ultimately voted against the bill, but Tassin has argued the legislation would have never been able to make it to the floor without Huffman's initial sign-off.
Huffman's campaign responded to Tassin's candidacy with derision.
"Given her Democrat primary voting history and obsession with attacking Lt. Gov. Patrick, I assumed she’d run in the Democrat primary," Huffman spokesman Jason Johnson said in a statement.
State records show Tassin participated in the 2008 Democratic primary. She went on to vote in the Republican primaries and runoffs in 2014 and 2016, according to the records.
Tassin was first elected to the Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees in 2014, when she defeated one-term incumbent Bruce Albright in the nonpartisan race. She won a second three-year term in May, and she's currently serving her second straight year as the board's president.
Huffman, who chairs the Senate State Affairs Committee, has served in the Senate since 2008. She announced in June that she would seek another term in 2018 and already has at least one announced Democratic challenger in Senate District 17: Fran Watson, a Houston attorney and past president of the city's GLBT Political Caucus.
Tassin has been on the radar of House Speaker Joe Straus, who singled her out for praise during a June speech before the Texas Association of School Boards. Straus, a San Antonio Republican, said he was a "big fan" of Tassin and quoted from the op-ed she had written pushing back on the "educrats" label. "I couldn't agree more," Straus concluded.
Later in his speech, Straus urged TASB members to speak out more — and to get involved in the political process.
"For example," Straus said, "I bet a few of you would make great members of the Texas Senate."