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State Rep. Naishtat Changes Mind, Will Not Seek Re-election

Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune
State Rep. Elliot Naishtat at the Texas A&M Health Science Center in Round Rock

Longtime state Rep. Elliott Naishtat announced Thursday he will not seek re-election to the House seat he first won in 1990, despite saying earlier this week that he would.

Naishtat, 70, said Tuesday he had discovered a renewed desire to run for office. But since then, he has "been very anxious and stressed about the decision," he said Thursday.

This week, "I was down at the Capitol; I wasn’t able to focus the way I usually do," Naishtat said. "I thought through the process again and, I know I'm not over the hill, but in light of my age, my time serving ... and in light of some long-term health and well-being concerns, I decided this is the time for me to not seek re-election."

Naishtat suffered serious injuries in a 2014 bicycle accident.

His announcement leaves little time for new candidates to enter the race for his seat because the deadline to file for office is Monday.

On Tuesday, Naishtat told the Tribune that he had a revelation at 3 a.m. that he needed to run for office. 

"I woke up and said to myself, ‘Elliott, who are you kidding? Of course you’re going to run,’” he said. 

After considering several options, the Austin Democrat decided that his decision was premature.

Naishtat said that four individuals had expressed interest in pursuing his seat if he did not seek re-election: Austin ISD Board President Gina Hinojosa, legislative staffer Huey Fischer, Austin City Council Member Ann Kitchen and political consultant Katie Naranjo.

"There is a next generation that stands enthusiastically ready and prepared to serve, and that has an energy toward and passion for public service that I cannot in good conscience ignore," Naishtat said in a statement. 

Fischer was the first candidate to file for the seat after Naishtat's announcement, and Hinojosa said she plans to file paperwork Thursday afternoon. Kitchen and Naranjo did not return requests for comment.

Hinojosa said she spoke with Naishtat on Thursday morning about his plans.  

"He called and just said that he decided it was time for him not to seek re-election and he wanted to let me know,” Hinojosa said. “He was apologetic about going back and forth, but it’s a hard decision for him to make, and he has been such an effective leader that I know he will be missed." 

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