Neave Criado revealed her decision Monday morning, hours before the candidate filing deadline for the March primary. She said Johnson has not fought hard enough against the Republican agenda, saying these "aren't normal times" and Democrats must rise to the occasion.
“In a post-Dobbs world where extremist Republicans are terrorizing a pregnant woman who just wants to protect her health and her ability to have a healthy baby, we need bold leaders who are not afraid to stand up and speak out, no matter the consequences," Neave Criado said in a statement.
Johnson responded that he is "running on my record."
"In the three session since I flipped this seat by beating the incumbent Republican Don Huffines, I’ve been unwavering and outspoken in my opposition to the right-wing agenda, while delivering major policy wins that improve people’s lives," Johnson said in a statement. "That’s what being a good legislator is about. Leadership is more than just talk."
Neave Criado specifically criticized Johnson for voting for a bill during the third special session that increases the minimum sentence from two years to 10 years for smuggling immigrants or operating a stash house. She said Johnson supported Gov. Greg "Abbott's racial profiling legislation." The bill passed the Senate by a nearly unanimous vote and is different from a bill that passed during the fourth special session that created a new state crime for illegal entry. Many Democrats in both chambers opposed that legislation, Senate Bill 4, amid concerns it could lead to racial profiling.
Johnson has been shoring up his intraparty support in recent days. He announced a list of endorsements last week that included Sen. Carol Alvarado of Houston, chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus, and Sen. José Menéndez of San Antonio, chair of the Senate Hispanic Caucus.
Johnson has represented Senate District 16 since his first election in 2018, when he unseated Huffines in a battleground race. The district became heavily Democratic after redistricting in 2021.
In the Senate, Johnson has been an outspoken voice for Medicaid expansion and Democrats’ top expert on fixing the power grid after the 2021 collapse.
Neave has served in the House since 2017 and chairs the County Affairs Committee.
Her decision to challenge Johnson means her solidly blue seat in House District 107 will be open, with little time for candidates to enter. The filing deadline is 6 p.m. Monday and as of Monday morning, no one had filed for the House seat.
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