June 28, 2011
Following a successful eight-year tenure as Democratic Leader in the Texas Senate, Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) stepped down as Chair of the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus today and welcomed Senator Kirk Watson’s (D-Austin) unanimous election by his colleagues as the new Democratic leader.
“Chairing the Democratic Caucus has been a wonderful experience, but now is the right time to welcome new leadership so Senate Democrats can hit the ground running when the legislature re-convenes,” Van de Putte said. “Nobody is better able to lead us as we move forward than Kirk Watson, and I applaud his election.”
Van de Putte is slated to become the Senate’s next President Pro Tempore as the next legislature convenes, and the two jobs were bound to present conflicts, she said.
Watson applauded Van de Putte’s leadership of the Caucus and thanked her for her years of service. Her achievements include the successful effort to block several of Governor Perry’s appointees, a first in the Senate since the early-1990s. She also led Democrats in 2003 during the record 46-day quorum break in reaction to Republican mid-decade Congressional redistricting, which occurred only weeks after Van de Putte’s election to lead the Democrats.
“I’m honored that my colleagues have entrusted their chairmanship to me, and I look forward to getting to work,” Watson said.
Also elected in the Democratic Caucus today were two new Co-Chairs, Senator Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso), and Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville), to replace Senator Royce West (D-Dallas), who decided to step down concurrently with Van de Putte. West is also a member of the Democratic National Committee.
“I’m excited about this 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. “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.”