BY PATRICK SVITEK at The Texas Tribune, NOV. 1, 2021
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State Rep. Claudia Ordaz Perez announced Monday she is challenging a fellow El Paso Democrat, Art Fierro, instead of running for reelection against Rep. Lina Ortega, another El Pasoan who she was pitted against in redistricting.
Under the map that Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law last week, Ordaz Perez is drawn into House District 77, the seat that Ortega, who is also a Democrat, has held since 2017.
“El Paso’s redrawn maps sadly epitomize what Texas Republicans are trying to achieve statewide,” Ordaz Perez said in a statement. House District 76 has been taken away from El Paso and two Hispanic female representatives are being pitted against one another.”
Fierro has announced he is running for reelection and told The Texas Tribune last week that he is “prepared to run a strong reelection campaign no matter who runs.”
In her announcement, Ordaz Perez took aim at Fierro for being one of three El Paso lawmakers who were among the first House Democrats to return to the floor earlier this year amid a quorum break over the GOP’s priority elections bill. Ordaz Perez and Ortega, the other two Democrats in the El Paso delegation, did not come back to the floor until later.
“It’s no coincidence that the two women who are being paired against each other are the same two women who refused to waiver in the fight to protect voting rights,” Ordaz Perez said. “It’s also no coincidence that a representative with less seniority [who] was among the very first to surrender to Republicans to help them make the quorum necessary to pass their harmful agenda is left unscathed.”
Ordaz Perez also noted that Fierro’s House District 79 covers the east side of El Paso, which she previously represented on the City Council.
Ordaz Perez and Ortega were paired from the start of the redistricting process, a result of Republican map-drawing following the 2020 census. It showed El Paso grew slower than the rest of the state and could no longer claim five districts wholly contained within the county.
Ordaz Perez and Ortega were united in their opposition to the proposed map. Ortega said it was a “direct attack on our border community and weakens the representation of minorities in the Texas Legislature.”
Despite their efforts, the Republican-led Legislature passed the map without unpairing the two lawmakers, leaving Ordaz Perez with a tough decision — run against a fellow Latina or find another path to reelection.
Fierro has represented House District 79 since winning a special election in January 2019. Ordaz Perez is the newest member of the El Paso delegation after she won an open seat last year.
All of the El Paso-anchored districts are safely Democratic.
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