Justice Eva Guzman (R) has resigned effective Friday amid speculation that she might challenge Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton (R).

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to answer this high calling,” she said in a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott (R).

Guzman was appointed to the high court in 2009 by then-Gov. Rick Perry (R). She was the first Hispanic/Latina woman elected statewide when she won a full term in 2010. In 2016, Guzman became the highest vote-getter in state history when nearly 4.9M Texans voted for her in the general election. That mark was broken in 2020, and the new record holder is Justice Jane Bland, who received 6.05M votes.

Guzman’s seat was up for re-election next year. Abbott will appoint a successor who will face Republican primary voters in a matter of months.

LAND open: Sen. Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway) announced she would run for Land Commissioner. She ended 2020 with $1.2M on hand. San Antonio media strategist Weston Martinez (R) is also in the race. Incumbent George P. Bush (R) is running for Attorney General.

Buckingham is the first Republican state senator to seek a statewide post since then-Sens. Glenn Hegar (R-Katy), Dan Patrick (R-Houston) and Ken Paxton (R-Plano) successfully ran for statewide office in 2014. Then-Sen. Todd Staples (R-Palestine) successfully ran for Agriculture Commissioner in 2006. Then-Sen. Jerry Patterson (R-Pasadena) lost the 1998 Republican primary for Land Commissioner but went on to win the office in 2002 as a former senator.

Democratic senators have not been as successful. Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) lost the 2020 Democratic runoff for U.S. Senator but remained in the Senate. In 2014, then-Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) lost to Patrick in the general election for LTGOV. Then-Sen. David Bernsen (D-Beaumont) lost the 2002 general election for Land Commissioner to Patterson.

SD7: Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) announced he would seek re-election.

HD45: 2020 Republican nominee Carrie Isaac announced she would seek a rematch against Rep. Erin Zwiener (D-Driftwood), who edged out Isaac, 51%-49%, in the general election. Isaac narrowly out-raised Zwiener, $1.7M to $1.6M, during the last election cycle, including over $1M during the campaign’s final month.

In that race, Zwiener won Hays Co. by just under 5K votes after winning the county by about 5.5K votes over Ken Strange in 2018. Blanco Co. went 3-to-1 for Isaac, who carried the county by more than 3.5K votes, and Strange also won Blanco Co. by a roughly 3-to-1 margin. One would expect a district contained entirely in Hays Co. to be friendlier to Zwiener than the current configuration of HD45, which includes Blanco Co., but it may not be that simple.

The ideal population for a state House district is going to be 194K. The Census Bureau’s estimated population for Hays Co. – based off the 2010 Census as the 2020 figure has not been released – is around 240K. Theoretically, that would give it one complete district and a 50K-person-or-so chunk of a second district, which may create opportunities to make HD45 friendlier to Isaac than its current configuration.

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