Herman: Ex-state and fed legislator seeks rare return to Texas Capitol


Improbably, and most probably unknown to the two of them, Guy Morrison Bryan is Pete Gallego’s role model.

Some of you remember former Rep. Gallego, D-Alpine, who served 11 terms in in the Texas House and one in the U.S. House until his constituents went thumbs down on him. Twice.

Far fewer of you remember Bryan. And if you do, you’re probably considerably over 100 years old (or, as we here at the newspaper think of you, the core demographic for our print product).

Gallego is seeking to join the late (very late, as in dead since 1901) and long-mostly-forgotten Bryan as the only members of a most exclusive Texas political club.

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Bryan was born in 1821 in Herculaneum, Mo. (Historical tidbit that might be on the midterm: Herculaneum was laid out by Moses Austin, Stephen F.’s dad.) Bryan served in the Texas House from 1847-53 and the Texas Senate from 1853-57. He then went to the U.S. House for one term, later returning to the Texas House for three nonconsecutive terms starting in 1873, including a stint as speaker.

Best I can tell (and my thanks to Nancy Z. Watson at the always helpful Legislative Reference Library for her research help) Bryan is the only Texan to make the legislative round trip, defined for our purposes as serving in the Texas Legislature and then the U.S. Congress and then again in the Legislature. It’s a decidedly nontraditional political career arc.

Looks like we’ve had five others who served in the Legislature after serving in the U.S. Congress. But none of those served in the Legislature prior to going to Congress. And, as always, I sit here standing to be corrected if anyone has other info. (And I’m aware that Andrew Jackson Hamilton served in the Texas House from 1851-53, in the U.S. House from 1859-61 and was elected to the Texas Senate in 1861 but didn’t take office.)

Gallego’s attempt to complete the legislative round trip is made possible by federal jurors in San Antonio, specifically the ones who in February convicted state Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, on 11 counts of shady financial stuff that’s a shade or three shadier than the shady financial stuff you so cynically expect from Your Shady State Legislators.

Uresti faces sentencing in June and could get many years of rent-free living in a gated federal community. But, as of now, he’s still a senator in semi-good standing. The Legislature’s not in session, his fellow Democrats have called for his resignation, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick stripped him of all committee assignments.

It’s a decent guess that Uresti will be resigning, but it looks like he can keep his seat, even from prison, until his appeals are exhausted. I’d also guess that at some point his constituents might get exhausted about being represented by a guy in prison. It might be entertaining, though, to have someone simultaneously serving terms in the state Senate and federal prison. The plus side: His constituents would know where he is at all times.

Gallego was elected to the Texas House in 1990 and served there until 2012 when he ousted U.S. Rep. Quico Canseco, R-San Antonio, in a sprawling San Antonio and westward district that is the state’s swingingest (politically) congressional district.

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In 2014, Gallego was ousted by Republican Will Hurd. In 2016, Hurd again defeated Gallego, who subsequently opted against challenging Hurd again this year. So lots of folks thought perhaps we’d seen the political end of Gallego. Nothing personal there. He’s an affable guy.

Then, Uresti got in trouble with the feds, putting his seat perhaps up for grabs before he’s due back on the ballot in 2020. Gallego wants the seat. So does state Rep. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, and perhaps others.

Now we just have to wait to see if and when Uresti is going to quit and force a special election to replace him.

“You’ve put your faith and trust in me to represent you before. I’ve been in both the Legislature and Congress,” Gallego said in announcing his campaign. “In both places, I put my head down and worked hard. No controversies. No distractions. Just hard work, great constituent services and solid representation. That’s what I hope to continue to do — get back to things that matter most to you and your families.”

A victory would allow Gallego to join the Bryan in the legislative round trippers club. And because Bryan did not seek re-election after his one U.S. House term, Gallego could become the first ex-state legislator to return to the Legislature after being ousted from Congress.

Another political note worth noting: I recently got a cordial invitation from the Republican Party of Texas to join its “Grassroots Club.” Membership has its privileges, including tele-town halls with “exciting guests” and invitations to “exclusive events” at the Texas GOP state convention in June.

But here’s my favorite perk: “Removal from all RPT fundraising calls and mail.”

The not-so-subtle message: Send money or we’ll keep nagging you. And yes, extortion is such an ugly word.

Another political note worth noting: The White House Tuesday routinely announced a bunch of judicial system appointees. The announcement hit my email inbox with this nonroutine warning in the subject line: “May Contain Offensive Language.”

Huh?

I read through the announcement and the closest I came to being offended by anything was a reference to the fact that one of the judicial appointees twice had been honored for his briefs.



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