87th LegislatureElections 2022State HouseDemocrats Line Up to Replace Rep. Eddie Rodriguez as He Runs for Congress

Whoever wins the Democratic nomination in the deeply blue district will likely become the next state representative.
February 3, 2022
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One Texas House district in the Austin area has drawn seven candidates in the Democratic primary after the seat’s incumbent decided to run for Congress.

House District (HD) 51 is a heavily Democratic district in the southern portion of Travis County that is rated D-84% in The Texan’s Texas Partisan Index.

Incumbent Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) declined to seek reelection so he could run for the 35th Congressional District. Whoever wins the Democratic primary in HD 51 will likely be the district’s next state representative.

Only one Republican, maintenance manager Robert Reynolds, has filed for the seat. Below is a list of the Democratic candidates running.

Lulu Flores

The Texan Tumbler

Flores’ campaign describes her as a “longtime champion of equality and social justice.”

On her campaign website, Flores spotlights her career as a lawyer and her opposition to the Texas Heartbeat Act, which prohibits abortion after cardiac activity can be detected in an unborn child. 

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission recently reported that abortions dropped abruptly in September after the law took effect.

Flores reported $43,030 in contributions in the most recent campaign finance report.

Matt Worthington

Matt Worthington is a data scientist who is emphasizing infrastructure, public education, public health, and civil rights — specifically “increasing voter participation” and LGBT issues.

He supports “weatherization of all energy production” and “eliminating loopholes that were passed during the 2021 Legislative Session.”

Worthington reported $18,034 in contributions in the most recent campaign finance report.

Albino “Bino” Cadenas

Cadenas is a police officer who was raised in East Austin.

“My upbringing and life experiences have shaped who I am and with the support of my family, I am ready to be your representative,” Cadenas states on his campaign website

“I will continue to be an authentic leader – speaking for those without a voice, genuinely listening to your concerns, and providing support to my constituents as we strive to make Texas the greatest state in the nation.”

Cadenas reported $3,780 in contributions in the most recent campaign finance filing.

Claire Campos-O’Neal

Campos-O’Neal is a realtor who is focusing her campaign on education, describing herself as “the Mom candidate” in an interview with The Texan.

When asked about the more than $1 billion the Legislature added for border security, Campos-O’Neal contended that lawmakers have “skewed priorities.”

“​​It makes me so sad that a billion dollars can be carved out for border security and a wall,” the Democrat said. “But … my local school district can’t afford to buy a new laminator and they have to solicit donations from families.”

She reported $1,980 in donations in the most recent campaign finance report.

Cynthia Valadez-Mata

“HD-51 deserves a problem solver with leadership experience to shepherd our portion of Travis County out of the COVID-19 pandemic, bring good paying, union jobs to the district, and work to fix our antiquated power grid,” Valadez-Mata’s campaign website reads.

Valadez-Mata has raised $3,010 so far, according to her most recent campaign finance filing.

Cody Arn

Arn is a hotelier who is prioritizing housing and LGBT issues in his campaign.

Among the policies Arn hopes to see enacted is a ban on what is often called sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) or “conversion therapy.” Several Democrats unsuccessfully sought to prohibit SOCE during the 87th Legislature’s regular session.

When asked how he would convince a Republican majority to consider such a proposal, Arn portrayed it as a matter of health.

“I would argue that it has nothing at all to do with religion and has everything to do with just health care,” Arn told The Texan in an interview. “This is a public health issue. Conversion therapy is an extremely outdated structure that does not work.”

Arn reported $45 in contributions in the most recent campaign finance filing.

Mike Hendrix 

Mike Hendrix is also making banning SOCE a highlight of his campaign. Other issues important to his run include transportation, housing, and climate change.

Hendrix did not file a campaign finance report by the most recent deadline.

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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."