Tuesday, March 5, 2024

U.S. Representative Charlie Gonzalez Will Retire in 2012

U.S. Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (TX-D), Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and 14-year Congress veteran, announced he will not be seeking reelection in 2012.

“Serving in Congress has been a privilege,” said Gonzalez in a press release. “But today my obligation and responsibility to family will keep me from seeking another term, while at the same time allowing me to accomplish other goals I have set for myself. Thirteen months remain in my last term and I look forward to working to get our nation past the recession and on the road to brighter future.”

Gonzalez’ retirement brings a family legacy to a close: his father, the late Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez, represented Texas’ 20th Congressional District from 1961 until he was succeeded by his son in 1999. The Gonzalez name is a staple in the San Antonio political world.

“I learned from my father and dedicated myself to representing San Antonio as he did: with commitment, hard work and honesty,” said Gonzalez.

As previously reported on La Plaza, observers believe Gonzalez’ retirement will reshuffle the electoral landscape in Texas.  State Rep. Joaquin Castro will likely run for Gonzalez’ seat and former Congressman Ciro Rodriguez will run in the newly created 35th district, where Castro had previously been campaigning.

This reshuffling of candidates is a result not only of Gonzalez’ decision to not run again, but also the new congressional voting map in Texas that resulted from redistricting.  A panel of three federal judges in San Antonio recently approved an interim map for the 2012 election, which potentially positions Democrats to gain as many as three congressional seats in Texas.  The Justice Department is challenging the original Republican-drawn map under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which outlaws discriminatory voting practices.  The Justice Department claims the map could weaken the voting power of Latinos and minorities in Texas.

This current political climate opens the door for a new generation of Latino politicians.  Gonzalez personally called Castro to encourage him to run for his district.

“I grew up in the 20th congressional district. I always dreamed about serving [there], but would never have dreamed about running against Charlie [Gonzalez]. This was a surprise to everyone, it’s a wonderful opportunity to serve the community where I was born and raised, and to continue the legacy of service that the Gonzalez family has laid for San Antonio,” Castro said in an interview with News Taco.

In addition to being the Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Gonzalez currently serves on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, the Committee on House Administration, and is a member of the New Democrats Coalition.

He has also been actively involved in initiatives surrounding the U.S. Census and co-chaired the Democratic Caucus Census Task Force in 2000. He has served on the Democratic Caucus Special Committee on Election Reform, the Democratic National Committee’s Voting Rights Institute, the Judiciary Committee on Homeland Security, and the House Financial Services Committee.

Following Gonzalez’ announcement, President Obama issued a statement in which he offered words of praise.

“For a combined 50 years, Charlie Gonzalez and his father have represented Texas’ 20th Congressional district in the United States House of Representatives. In Congress, Charlie has fought tirelessly for a cleaner environment, Wall Street reform and more accessible health care for Texans. As Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, he has worked nonstop to deliver much needed relief to deserving immigrant families and to protect the civil rights of Latinos and all Americans. Michelle and I wish him and his family the very best and join the people of Texas in thanking him for his many years of service.”


Charles A. Gonzalez