UT alum James Talarico to run for state house seat in 2022 following redistricting

Tori Duff, News reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the November 5 flipbook. 

State Rep. James Talarico, a Democrat from Round Rock, said he plans to run in 2022 for a state House seat in Austin because Texas’ new political map that was approved last month could force him out of his current district.

“Republicans have gerrymandered me out of my district,” Talarico, a UT alum, tweeted. “If they think they can keep me off the House floor, they better think again.”

Talarico currently represents House District 52, but new districting lines indicate the area will go to a conservative candidate in the 2022 midterms, Talarico said in the tweet. If Talarico wins the race for House District 50 in Austin, a seat currently occupied by Celia Israel, he would become the state representative for many UT students. Some students said they look forward to the possibility of having a newer and more socially aware voice in politics to represent them.

House District 52, under the previous political map, swung 43.7% for Donald Trump and 53.9% for Joe Biden in the 2020 Presidential Election, according to The Texas Tribune. In contrast, the new political lines of Talarico’s district would have voted 51% for Donald Trump and 46.7% for Joe Biden, leaning the majority of voters toward a conservative candidate, according to the Tribune.

Talarico is the youngest member of the Texas House of Representatives, and during his time in the House since 2018 he passed bills limiting insulin copays to $50 a month and banning police reality shows in the state. He also proposed bills to legalize marijuana and set a $70,000 minimum teacher salary. 

Bennett Burke, a member of UT Young Democratic Socialists, said Talarico’s aggressive action to pass forward-thinking legislation excites him for Talarico’s possible future in Austin.

“One thing I really do respect about James Talarico is how he, in the Texas House, put forth a bill to cap the price of insulin,” said Burke, a political communication and history junior. “His willingness to take on the pharmaceutical industry, one of the most extortionist industries in the country, is admirable, and I would hope to see more of that if he hangs on to power.”

Ric Galvan, Central Texas campus organizer for Texas Rising, said he’s eager to see representatives who focus on social justice issues, since many were passed over in the past legislative session.

“I think it’s interesting that he’s decided to hop over into HD50, and I’m excited to see how the election plays out,” history senior Galvan said. “I would like to see him help expand the House to be more social justice conscious, and fight for things that really matter to everyday Texans. I trust that he can do that well.”

Talarico did not respond in time for publication. 

Talarico tweeted that he was not upset about being drawn out of his district, but by the tactics used to do so.

“I’m mad about *how* they did it,” Talarico tweeted. “Republicans are trying to get rid of me by dividing the communities of color in my district. By silencing their voice. By robbing them of their power. The people I swore a sacred oath to represent.”