July 3, 2011
Senate Democrats have elected Kirk Watson of Austin as the new chairman of their caucus. Watson replaces Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio, who has led the caucus since 2003. Although Democrats now have only 12 of the 31 seats in the Senate, the caucus has been able to flex its muscle on key legislation because of the body’s two-thirds rule that requires the agreement of at least 21 senators for any bill to be brought up for debate during a regular legislative session.
“I’m excited about our leadership team, and I can’t wait to lead the Democrats in defending Texas families who have suffered from the decisions of those in control of the Capitol,” Watson said after his selection. “Our priorities are the priorities of Texans – quality public education, affordable and accessible health care, and a Texas budget free of the debt, diversions and deception that have played too large a role in the state’s finances.”
Watson was elected to the Senate in 2006 and is considered a very effective legislator. An attorney by profession, he previously served as mayor of Austin and was the Democratic nominee for Texas attorney general in 2002. Although the boundaries of his central Texas senate district were altered in a redistricting plan approved by the GOP majority in the Senate earlier this year, he is expected to retain the seat in 2012 elections.