Ogden Out

Senate Finance Committee chair confirms he will not run again

Ogden: The hunt for a replacement begins
Ogden: The hunt for a replacement begins

After passing the last conceivable "balanced" budget for a while, Senate Finance Committee Chair Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, has confirmed the long-swirling rumor: He won't be running again for his current office in 2010. Note, just his current office.

Ogden has been up in the lege since 1992, including three terms in the House before taking the Senate seat in a special election in 1997. In a response to today's announcement, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst called Ogden a "close friend" and "one of the Texas Senate's strongest leaders."

However, he may not be disappearing permanently. Ogden said he was not ruling out running for another office. And there are a lot of offices to run for.

His standing down has importance for the Senate. Ogden went up to the lege the same year that the Clintons went to the White House. His understanding of legislative process made him the man most named for killing bills last session, by having them diverted to his committee, then never giving them a hearing. The Senate Republicans will now be looking for someone with equal heft.

This also makes life interesting up in Williamson County. The assumption is that Rep. Dan Gattis, R-Georgetown, will make a move for the Senate seat, while former Texas Legislative Council Executive Director Milton Rister has already formed an exploratory committee for Gattis' seat. The question now is whether the Democrats will start recruiting serious candidates and undertake major fundraising for them.

Ogden's statement in full:

"I am very grateful for my constituents' trust and support while I worked for them in the Texas Legislature. When my current term ends, my family and I will have spent 20 years in state elected office. I think Texas state government is in good shape and I am pleased to have played a part in making it so.

"It's been my privilege and responsibility to have had a "seat at the table" for every major state policy discussion of the past two decades. I was fortunate to play a leadership role in state budgets and revenue, transportation safety and finance, and school finance and higher education funding. I worked for the expansion, improvement and stabilization of public healthcare programs for the most needy and vulnerable Texans. I was a consistent advocate for state employees, ensuring that they had fair wages, secure retirement programs, and the tools they needed to do their jobs. And I fought to protect children, including those not yet born.

"As chairman of Senate Finance for six years and a member of the Senate Finance or House Appropriations committees for 10 more, I have tried to ensure that the taxpayers' money was spent as carefully as I would spend my own. Texas today is in better fiscal shape than most states. We face a challenging future with confidence and money in the bank. Our state is strong and secure for many reasons, key among them that our budgets are balanced and our spending is under control.

"Though I have no immediate plans to remain in politics beyond my present term, I am not, by today's announcement, ruling out a future candidacy for elected office."

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