Candidate urges Young Stonewall members to begin public service
Gov. Rick Perry has called a special election in May to fill the unexpired seat vacated by Rep. Terri Hodge, and Eric Johnson is running for the job. He said Wednesday, March 23 at a Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats meeting that he might not know until the April 7 deadline whether he will face any opposition in the race.
When Johnson won the Democratic primary in March, he ensured his victory as the new state representative for District 100 in the 2011 Legislature since he has no Republican opposition in the race. But the special election would fill the seat until January.
Johnson said Dallas County Elections Administrator Bruce Sherbet told him that if no one else files for the special election, to save taxpayers money, the election could be canceled and Johnson declared the winner.
While the Legislature will not meet until January 2011, Johnson said constituent services continue throughout the year. He said that despite Hodge’s resignation, the office is currently operating and he thought Hodge might even still be working there to provide a smooth transition for her district.
Johnson also said that by coming into office now, rather than after the November election, under Texas law his seniority would be counted from the 2008 election, rather than 2010. That will help him snag the committee assignments he wants, which include education and one of the procedural committees, he said.
Johnson also encouraged those at the Young Stonewall meeting to join non-profit boards and talk to their city council members about appointments to city boards as a springboard to a career in politics.
"We are at a point in our politics in Texas where people are starving for leadership," he said, adding that being young is no excuse to put off public service.
"I don’t think we have the luxury of waiting another 20 years to get involved," Johnson said. "Act on our progressive agenda and exemplify the values of our party."
Speaking from his recent experience with his own campaign, Johnson did offer one warning.
"Do you have the stomach for it?" he asked. "You’re going to get beaten up."
He even had fundraising advice for novice political candidates.
"We went to our social network and had 800 people who gave a little bit. A few gave a lot," he said.
His campaign budget was $300,000 and the majority of his donations were less than $100 each.
He told the group that he supported their effort to make a difference.
"I’ll have your back, because I believe in you," he said.
Hodge, who has represented the district since 1996, resigned after pleading guilty to lying on her federal tax returns. She will be sentenced on April 27.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 26, 2010.