As we recently reported, there are several names being discussed as potential candidates to fill the Texas House of Representatives District 77 seat being vacated by Lina Ortega. In addition to David Saucedo, former county commissioner Vince Perez, Elisa Tamayo and Norma Chavez have been named. Chaves, who told us she has not made a formal announcement, has told several individuals, including Abel Rodriguez, Jr. that she is running and “to let you all know.” In addition to Chavez, Perez and Tamayo, another name has recently surfaced, current city representative Alexsandra Annello. Because of the rule requiring a sitting city representative to resign to run for another office, current city representatives seeking to run for the open seat will not make a formal announcement until later in the year. Any public indication that they are considering running for Ortega’s open seat or for mayor will remove them from office?
We originally reported that former city representative Peter Svarzbein was considering running for mayor or Ortega’s seat. However, a source close to Svarzbein confirmed to us that Svarzbein has met with individuals about running for the District 77 seat, telling them he does not feel he can win the mayor’s seat. Former county commissioner Vince Perez also pitched his intention to the same group of supporters that Svarzbein met with telling them he has better support among the constituents and they should support him for that seat.
Our source told us that campaign funding groups are leaning towards Svarzbein’s run for Ortega’s seat, but that Perez was still being considered. No decision by the group of supporters has been made, our source told us.
Since Oscar Leeser is termed out, several names have been raised as possibly seeking the mayoral seat.
The Mayor’s Race
As we reported earlier, Cassandra Hernandez is considering the mayor’s seat. We also reported that Isabel Salcido, Brian Kennedy and Alexsandra Annello are eyeing the mayoral seat. The information we recently received has Svarzbein focused on the District 77 seat, instead of the mayoral office. Likewise for Annello. Although Sylvia Acosta’s name has been mentioned for Leeser’s seat, recent indications is that she is not interested in running because she fears her abrupt departure from her previous employer may become an issue during the election. The other name frequently mentioned is Veronica Carbajal.
Another name that has surfaced is Renard Johnson. Johnson, who was born in Chicago, attended Andress High School and received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from UTEP. In 1994, Johnson founded METI, a multi-million-dollar government contractor. If Johnson decides to run for mayor, this would be his first election.
The reason that the mayor’s seat is open is because Leeser has termed out and he cannot run for reelection. This has raised several questions about his political future.
Congresswoman Veronica Escobar has indicated to individuals close to her that she is concerned about Leeser running against her in 2024. According to a source, who asked not to be identified, Escobar has been asking about Leeser’s intentions for her seat. Escobar, according to our source, is concerned that Leeser’s name recognition will make it difficult for her to keep her seat. This has led to several individuals asking if Leeser intends to challenge Escobar for congress in 2024.
A source with firsthand knowledge of the discussions surrounding Oscar Leeser’s future political plans agreed to speak to us on the condition that we do not name them because they are not authorized to speak for the mayor.
The source told us that Leeser is thinking about challenging Escobar for her seat in 2024. But the source also added that part of Leeser’s calculus on his decision to run against Escobar centers on the county judge’s race in 2026. Ricardo Samaniego, the current county judge, is not expected to run for reelection as he has told individuals that he will not seek reelection. Should Leeser sit out the 2024 election cycle, look for him to run for Samaniego’s seat in 2026, our source told us.
We asked Leeser for a comment. Leeser replied that he has “no comment” for us.