State Rep. Abel Herrero announces he will not seek a 10th term

State Rep. Abel Herrero with his family on the House floor on the first day of the 2017 Texas...
State Rep. Abel Herrero with his family on the House floor on the first day of the 2017 Texas legislative session, on Jan. 10, 2017.(Todd Wiseman/The Texas Tribune)
Published: Jul. 8, 2023 at 4:12 PM CDT
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AUSTIN, Texas (The Texas Tribune) - The moderate Democrat from Robstown chairs the Corrections Committee.

State Rep. Abel Herrero, D-Robstown, announced Friday he will not seek reelection after nearly two decades in the House.

“I have worked hard to bring people together for common goals and purposes to create better opportunities for all Texans,” Herrero said in a statement. “I hope that I have been able to make our communities and state a better place.”

Herrero is a moderate Democrat who chairs the House Corrections Committee. He is in his ninth nonconsecutive term after serving from 2005-11 and then 2013 until now.

Herrero represents House District 34, which covers part of Corpus Christi and spreads west.

Herrero’s retirement sets up a potentially competitive race to succeed him as Republicans try to make further inroads in South Texas. Herrero won reelection last year by 15 percentage points, but the Democratic nominee for governor, Beto O’Rourke, carried it by only 5 points.

Herrero was known for championing public education and regularly offered budget amendments opposing state funds for school voucher programs. His amendment got more attention than usual this year due to Gov. Greg Abbott’s crusade for such initiatives.

Herrero was not always aligned with his party, though, especially on social issues. He was among a handful of House Democrats earlier this year who supported a ban on gender-affirming care for transgender minors.

The chair of the Texas Democratic Party, Gilberto Hinojosa, issued a statement praising Herrero’s service, especially his anti-voucher amendment. Hinojosa said it was “nothing short of an act of heroism” given how hard GOP leaders have been pushing for such programs this year.

Hinojosa also acknowledged the vacancy could trigger a hard-fought race and promised the party will “fight with everything we have to ensure this district remains represented by a Democrat.”

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.