Rep. Swinford said, "I do love the House and I always will, because it's a fabulous institution, but it's time for someone else to represent House District 87. If I were to run for re-election, I would be 70 years old in the next session. I've been a public servant for a long time and I want to spend more time with my family, enjoy my grandchildren and see my friends here more often."
This is somewhat good news for Democratic candidate Abel Vasquez. It means he's is now running for an open seat and won't have to face an entrenched incumbent. He said, "It makes it more of a 50-50 race, because we are both running for an open seat."
That may be a bit too optimistic, because any Democrat running for office in the Panhandle has a hard row to hoe. This is still the reddest area in Texas. In addition, the only daily newspaper here in Amarillo is little more than a propaganda organ for the Republican Party.
I'm not saying it's impossible for Vasquez to win, because upsets do happen from time to time in politics. But a Democratic win in House District 87 would be a shocker to political pundits statewide.
It's not yet known who the Republicans will be running for the office. So far, names being thrown around are Amarillo mayor Debra McCartt and president of the Amarillo I.S.D. Board of Trustees Anette Carlisle.
UPDATE -- Victor Leal, owner of Leal's Mexican Restaurant in Amarillo, says he will toss his hat in the ring as a Republican.