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State Rep. Victoria Neave Criado challenges fellow Dallas Democrat Sen. Nathan Johnson

By Patrick Svitek, The Texas Tribune

State Rep. Victoria Neave Criado challenges fellow Dallas Democrat Sen. Nathan Johnson” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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State Rep. Victoria Neave Criado is challenging state Sen. Nathan Johnson in the Democratic primary for his Dallas-based seat.

Neave Criado revealed her decision Monday morning, hours before the candidate filing deadline for the March primary. She said Johnson has not fought hard enough against the Republican agenda, saying these “aren’t normal times” and Democrats must rise to the occasion.

“In a post-Dobbs world where extremist Republicans are terrorizing a pregnant woman who just wants to protect her health and her ability to have a healthy baby, we need bold leaders who are not afraid to stand up and speak out, no matter the consequences,” Neave Criado said in a statement.

Neave Criado specifically criticized Johnson for voting for a bill during the third special session that increases the minimum sentence from two years to 10 years for smuggling immigrants or operating a stash house. She said Johnson supported Gov. Greg “Abbott’s racial profiling legislation.” The bill, which passed the Senate by a nearly unanimous vote.

Johnson responded that he is “running on my record.”

“In the three session since I flipped this seat by beating the incumbent Republican Don Huffines, I’ve been unwavering and outspoken in my opposition to the right-wing agenda, while delivering major policy wins that improve people’s lives,” Johnson said in a statement. “That’s what being a good legislator is about. Leadership is more than just talk.”

State Sen. Nathan Johnson, D-Dallas, during the last day of the 88th regular session on May 29, 2023.
State Sen. Nathan Johnson, D-Dallas, during the last day of the 88th regular session on May 29, 2023. Credit: Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Johnson has been shoring up his intraparty support in recent days. He announced a list of endorsements last week that included Sen. Carol Alvarado of Houston, chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus, and Sen. José Menéndez of San Antonio, chair of the Senate Hispanic Caucus.

Johnson has represented Senate District 16 since his first election in 2018, when he unseated Huffines in a battleground race. The district became heavily Democratic after redistricting in 2021.

In the Senate, Johnson has been an outspoken voice for Medicaid expansion and Democrats’ top expert on fixing the power grid after the 2021 collapse.

Neave has served in the House since 2017 and chairs the County Affairs Committee.

Her decision to challenge Johnson means her solidly blue seat in House District 107 will be open, with little time for candidates to enter. The filing deadline is 6 p.m. Monday and as of Monday morning, no one had filed for the House seat.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2023/12/11/victoria-neave-criado-nathan-johnson-senate-texas/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

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