BY Patrick Svitek
State Rep. Poncho Nevárez, D-Eagle Pass, is not running for reelection, he announced Friday.
“I will not stand for reelection for a fifth … term in the Texas House of Representatives,” Nevárez said in a statement. “I want to thank the folks in HD 74 who put me in a position to serve.
“We talk about how important family and health is in all this, and as such my family needs me and I need them,” Nevárez added. “I must heal up for the rest of what may come in my life. So, it is time to come home.”
Since 2013, Nevárez has represented House District 74, which covers a massive chunk of South and West Texas that includes most of the state’s Mexican border and stops just short of El Paso. It is a Democratic-friendly district likely to remain under the party’s control next year.
Nevárez chairs the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee. He also is vice chairman of a select committee that state leaders formed two months ago in response to the deadly shootings in El Paso and Odessa.
Nevárez has been an outspoken advocate on issues related to guns and immigration — issues that put him at the center of some of the more contentious episodes at the Capitol in recent years. During a 2015 debate over a bill to allow gun owners to openly carry their firearms, gun rights activists had a hostile confrontation with Nevárez in his office that led to the installation of new “panic buttons” in lawmakers’ offices. And at the end of the 2017 session, Nevárez was part of a tussle that broke out on the House floor after then-Rep. Matt Rinaldi, R-Irving, said he called federal immigration authorities on people in the gallery protesting the state’s new “sanctuary cities” ban. Nevárez later said Rinaldi “threatened my life” during the blowup.
While Nevárez had been viewed as a potential 2020 candidate for Senate District 19, which largely overlaps his House district, he has said he is not running for the seat currently held by Pleasanton Republican Pete Flores. State Rep. Roland Gutierrez of San Antonio and San Antonio attorney Xochil Peña Rodriguez are already vying to take on Flores, Democrats’ top Senate target next year after he captured the seat in a 2018 special election upset.
It remains to be seen who will run for Nevárez’s House seat. His announcement that he will not seek reelection came a day before candidate filing opens for the March primary, and the deadline to file is Dec. 9.