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Johnson running to become first Black Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives

Special to The Dallas Examiner | 5/21/2018, 4:04 p.m.
State Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, has filed the paperwork to run for Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives for ...
Rep. Eric Johnson during a discussion on cryptocurrency in the House Committee on Investments and Financial Services meeting at the Texas State Capitol, April 24. Texas House of Representatives

Special to The Dallas Examiner

State Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, has filed the paperwork to run for Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives for the 86th Texas Legislature. The speaker is the presiding officer of the House, chosen by the representatives as each new Legislature begins. The position is responsible for conducting the meetings, as well as appointing committees and enforcing the rules.

The seat is currently held by Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, who was first elected in January 2009. Straus plans to retire at the end of the year.

If elected, Johnson would become first African American to serve as speaker. Furthermore, he would be the first speaker of color, the first speaker under the age of 45 since Price Daniel Jr. in 1973 and the first speaker from Dallas since W.O. Reed in 1947.

“When I look back over my eight years as a member of the Texas House, I am deeply troubled by the far rightward shift in our state government and the excessive partisanship and the poor legislation this shift has spawned,” Johnson stated. “Texas has become a one-party state, and this has been to Texas’s detriment.”

During the last legislative session, Johnson expressed concerns about lobbyist having too much influence over calendar items voted on during the session and frustration about politicians who repeatedly vote the same versus the people willing to try a different solution.

“What Texas needs is a strong, pro-growth, progressive leader presiding over the Texas House to act as a counterbalance to a far-right Governor and Lieutenant Governor. I am running for Speaker to help restore normalcy to Texas state politics,” he explained.

Johnson represents House District 100, which includes parts of Dallas and Mesquite – the district where he was born and raised. He was first elected to the Texas House in 2010 and will begin his sixth term when the 86th Texas Legislature convenes in January 2019. He currently serves on the House Committees on Ways and Means, Investments and Financial Services, and Redistricting.

After earning a Bachelor of Arts in History cum laude from Harvard University in 1998, he went on to earn a Master of Public Affairs in International Relations from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and a juris doctor from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, both in 2003. He currently serves on the Democratic National Committee and is the Chairman of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee’s Finance Council.