A Houston-area Democrat elected to the Texas Legislature more than 25 years ago is hanging it up.

On Friday, State Rep. Jessica Farrar announced on Twitter she will retire from the legislature effective September 30. Farrar says she is stepping down in part to help care for her mother and mother-in-law, following the recent deaths of both her and her husband’s fathers.

The district Farrar represents, House District 148, encompasses the Houston Heights neighborhood and surrounding areas and has been a safely held Democrat seat for decades. Farrar was first elected to the seat in 1994, running unopposed. In 2018, she defeated Republican challenger Ryan McConnico with nearly 68 percent of the vote, more than doubling the 15,000 votes received by her opponent.

Farrar is probably best known to conservatives in the state for fighting against efforts to protect life, religious liberties, and traditional marriage. She is closely affiliated with progressive organizations Planned Parenthood, Human Rights Campaign, and Annie’s List, and was a member of the newly formed LGBTQ Caucus in the Texas House.

In this year’s 86th Legislative Session, Farrar most notably was a participant in the “walk out” with three fellow Democrats. She and State Reps. Yvonne Davis (Dallas), Victoria Neave (Dallas), and Julie Johnson (Carrolton) were no-shows to a Texas House Civil Jurisprudence meeting, in an attempt to break quorum and stall the hearing of a bill that would protect infants who survive botched abortions.

The bill, House Bill 16, was eventually heard, passed, and signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott.

In her press release, Farrar listed as career accomplishments being one of only 12 members to vote against a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman and having “set the stage for the Senate filibuster of HB 2 in 2013.” That filibuster drew national attention when abortion activists from across the state descended on the Texas Capitol in support of the destruction of unborn children, opposing the legislation to move Texas’ ban on abortion to the 20-week mark of a pregnancy. The effort eventually failed, and the bill was passed into law.

The seat Farrar is vacating will likely stay blue for the 2020 election season, as Republicans focus resources on retaining suburban swing districts and the party’s nine-seat majority. In the primary fight for the open seat, Democrats are expected to continue pushing their platform further to the left ahead of the general election.

 

Destin Sensky

Destin Sensky serves as a Capitol Correspondent for Texas Scorecard covering the Texas Legislature, working to bring Texans the honest and accurate coverage they need to hold their elected officials in Austin accountable.

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