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Strama, Mulling Mayoral Bid, Won't Seek Reelection

Spencer Selvidge via Texas Tribune

State Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin, is considering a run for mayor of Austin and won’t seek another term in the Texas House, he said Wednesday.

“I genuinely have not decided whether to run for mayor — I can think of as many reasons not to do it as to do it,” he said. “Regardless, I have decided not to run for another term in the House. All good things must come to an end, and on a separate note, so must my time in the Texas House.”

Strama, 45, chairs the House Committee on Technology, Economic Development and Workforce. He was first elected to the House in 2004, and worked before that at Rock the Vote, for Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, and for then-Gov. Ann Richards. He revealed his plans in an interview and in a posting on his own blog.

Asked whether he has accomplished all he hoped to in the Texas House, Strama sounded exasperated, saying that Democrats are so overwhelmingly outnumbered in the House that they are “so far from the ability to produce an outcome.” The lower chamber has 95 Republicans and 55 Democrats. Until the Republican surge in the 2010 elections, that was a more balanced 76-74.

Strama said several people have expressed interest in running for his spot in the House and he wants to get out of their way now, freeing his own supporters to choose someone else. And he expects a number of people — on the current city council and off — to look seriously at the mayor’s race. He’ll make his decision on whether to run for mayor after the current legislative session.

“The way I’ll make the decision is to make sure a lot of people know and hear back from them. I’ll welcome that advice,” he said.

Strama said city office offers a chance to work on issues that are closer to the public and more tangible to voters.

With Democrats in a political hole in the Legislature, Strama said, he can do as much from out of office as in. “On the issues I care about, energy — renewable energy — education and political reform, I feel like I can have a bigger impact from outside than from inside,” he said. “Sustainable energy is going to be driven from the private sector rather than from the public sector.”

The arguments against a run for city office are at home. “I have a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old,” Strama said. “Being a legislator is a part-time job. Being a mayor is a full-time job.”

Ross Ramsey is managing editor of The Texas Tribune and continues as editor of Texas Weekly, the premier newsletter on government and politics in the Lone Star State, a role he's had since September 1998. Texas Weekly was a print-only journal when he took the reins in 1998; he switched it to a subscription-based, internet-only journal by the end of 2004 without a significant loss in subscribers. As Texas Weekly's primary writer for 11 years, he turned out roughly 2 million words in more than 500 editions, added an online library of resources and documents and items of interest to insiders, and a daily news clipping service that links to stories from papers across Texas. Before joining Texas Weekly in September 1998, Ramsey was associate deputy comptroller for policy with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, also working as the agency's director of communications. Prior to that 28-month stint in government, Ramsey spent 17 years in journalism, reporting for the Houston Chronicle from its Austin bureau and for the Dallas Times Herald, first on the business desk in Dallas and later as the paper's Austin bureau chief. Prior to that, as a Dallas-based freelance business writer, he wrote for regional and national magazines and newspapers. Ramsey got his start in journalism in broadcasting, working for almost seven years covering news for radio stations in Denton and Dallas.