State Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., a South Texas Democrat long considered to be the most moderate of Senate Democrats, is calling it quits after more than 30 years in the Texas Senate. His retirement is the fourth to come among Texas senators and occurs as leftist activists have become increasingly vocal in their opposition to him.

At a Harlingen press conference on Thursday morning, Lucio said he wanted to spend more time with his family and “do some of the things I’ve been wanting to do, like my own personal ministry to help the less fortunate.” 

Though a Democrat, Lucio frequently broke with his party on primarily social issues and was a consistent defender of unborn life. In 2021, he was a co-author for the Texas Heartbeat Bill. He also voted for constitutional carry and the anti-transgender sports bill, and in 2017, he voted for the bathroom bill. Lucio was vice chair of the Senate Finance and Education committees, and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick often expressed his support for Lucio.

In 2020, Lucio was able to fend off a competitive challenge from the left in Sara Stapleton-Barrera. Lucio won the runoff primary by a margin of 54 percent to 46 percent. Stapleton-Barrera ran a heavily progressive campaign and challenged that Lucio was out of touch with RGV progressive voters.

As for who will step in to fill his vacancy, State Rep. Alex Dominguez is heavily rumored to be considering a run. Dominguez, who was recently drawn out of his current district and into House District 38, would represent a significant shift to the left from Lucio. Notably, in response to rumors that Dominguez could challenge him, Lucio slammed Dominguez, saying in recent statements to the Rio Grande Guardian, He is making a big mistake because he doesn’t have a resume. He doesn’t have a resume. He hasn’t accomplished anything. He has only followed. He hasn’t led.”

Dominguez was one of the most vocal and visible members of the Texas House who fled Austin in the summer’s highly publicized quorum bust that sought to stop the election integrity bill.

Though Lucio’s son, Democratic State Rep. Eddie Lucio III (Brownsville), recently announced his retirement, Lucio stated he does not expect him to run for his seat.

Lucio’s retirement comes as the eyes of the country turn to the Rio Grande Valley, where Republicans see an opportunity to turn the region red. Senate District 27 was recently redrawn by the Legislature to be more competitive for Republicans. The central question will now be who Republicans nominate to try to flip Senate District 27, and whether Democrats will nominate someone more progressive than Lucio in efforts to maintain their grip on South Texas.