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Joan Huffman
President pro tempore of the Texas Senate
Assumed office
May 27, 2019
Preceded byKirk Watson
Member of the Texas Senate
from the 17th district
Assumed office
December 29, 2008
Preceded byKyle Janek
Personal details
Born (1956-08-17) August 17, 1956 (age 63)
Southside Place, Texas, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Keith Lawyer
EducationLouisiana State University, Baton Rouge (BA)
South Texas College of Law (JD)

Joan J. Huffman (born August 17, 1956)[1] is a Republican member of the Texas Senate who represents District 17, which includes a portion of populous Harris County. At the time her service began, Huffman was the sixth then-serving female member of the chamber.[2]

On the last day of the 86th Legislature, she was chosen by her colleagues—Democrats and Republicans—to serve as president pro tempore.[3]


A native of Houston, Huffman holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and a Juris Doctor degree from the South Texas College of Law in Houston. Prior to her Senate tenure, Huffman was judge of the 183rd Criminal District Court in Harris County. Prior to the judgeship she was chief felony prosecutor for the Harris County District Attorney's office.[4]

2008 special election

Only one in five voters participated in the special election for the Texas Senate held on December 16, 2008. Huffman defeated her Democratic opponent, Chris Bell, a former one-term member of the United States House of Representatives, 24,431 (56 percent) to 19,104 (44 percent).[2] Bell was his party's unsuccessful Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2006, having lost in a five-candidate general election to Republican Governor Rick Perry, 39-30 percent.[5]

Bell had led in the initial balloting on November 4, when the first round of the special election was held in conjunction with the presidential and congressional elections. He obtained 38 percent of the vote to Huffman's 26 percent. Bell and a second Democratic contender, Stephanie Simmons, had a combined 52 percent in the first round.[6] The runoff contest, however, allowed Huffman to consolidate supporters of three other Republican candidates, Austen H. Furse (born 1960), Kenneth R. Sherman (born 1962), and Grant P. Harpold (born 1963), who trailed in the first balloting. Huffman's term extends to January 2011. She succeeds Senator Kyle Janek, a Republican physician who resigned earlier that year for business reasons.

Huffman spent $750,000 of her own money in the first Senate campaign.[7] Bob J. Perry of Perry Homes in Houston, no relation to Governor Perry, gave Huffman $125,000. Bell received a large sum from state trial lawyers, and the Texas Democratic Party sent activists to the district in order to conduct block-walking.[8]

In addition to Harris County, Senate District 17, said to resemble a crowbar, includes portions of Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, and Jefferson counties.[9] From 1981 to 2002, the seat with a different configuration was held by the attorney J. E. "Buster" Brown, then of Lake Jackson, and later a lobbyist at the state capitol in Austin.

Political career

Huffman is the chairwoman of the Senate State Affairs Committee, Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice, and is also a member of the Senate Committee on Finance and the Legislative Budget Board.[4]

Huffman's has been acknowledged by numerous advocacy groups. She was named a "Champion for Free Enterprise" by the Texas Association of Business, a "Taxpayer Champion" by Texans for Fiscal Responsibility and a "Big Voice for Little Texans" by Court Appointed Special Advocates for her work to protect children. She was also named a "Patient Care Champion" by the Harris County Medical Society, earned the TEXPAC "Patient Protection Award" from the Texas Medical Association, both for back-to-back legislative sessions, and is the only repeat recipient of the Texas District and County Attorneys Association's "Law and Order Award" since its inception, for her efforts to improve victims' protections and the criminal justice system. However, she was also cited as being the worst Texas Senator by Texas Monthly magazine.[10] She was again included on the Texas Monthly list of worst Texas legislators in 2015, for, among other things, sponsoring an amendment to a bill that would "exclude from personal financial disclosure the holdings of legislators' spouses." He husband, Keith Lawyer, a Houston nightclub owner, had loaned Huffman $500,000 for the 2008 campaign.[11]

Huffman won easy re-nomination to the state Senate in the Republican primary held on March 4, 2014. She defeated her only primary opponent, Derek A. Anthony, 32,962 (81.1 percent) to 7,691 (18.9 percent).[12] She then won the general election on November 4, 2014, beating Democratic candidate Rita Lucido 113,817 (63.34%) to 60,934 (33.91%).[13]

In March 2015, Huffman proposed greater protection against libel for journalists who report whistleblower claims which turn out to have been false but which the reporters believed accurate at the time of media release. Huffman's plan died in her State Affairs Committee.[14]

Despite a strong "blue wave" in Harris County, Huffman won reelection on November 6, 2018, when she defeated her Democratic challenger, Rita Lucido, who had also been her 2014 opponent. Huffman polled 157,910 votes (51.5 percent) to Lucido's 143,465 (46.8 percent). Lucido drew nearly 83,000 more votes in 2018 than she had in 2014. Another 5,380 ballots (1.8 percent) went to the 2018 Libertarian Party choice, Lauren LaCount.[15]


  1. ^ "2010 November General Election Candidates". Secretary of State of Texas.
  2. ^ a b "Alan, Bernstein, "Huffman takes Senate Dist. 17 seat in runoff", December 17, 2008, p. 1". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved December 26, 2008.
  3. ^ Flores, Christian (27 May 2019). "Whitley resigns, lawmakers reflect on successful session on last day". CBS Austin. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Joan Huffman's Biography". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  5. ^ Texas Secretary of State, Governor's general election returns, November 7, 2006
  6. ^ "Texas State Senate District 17 special election results". Texas Secretary of State. November 4, 2008. Archived from the original on January 9, 2014. Retrieved December 26, 2009.
  7. ^ "Joan Huffman for State Senate". Archived from the original on October 24, 2008. Retrieved December 25, 2008.
  8. ^ ""Chris Bell/Joan Huffman in Their Own Words", December 10, 2008". Retrieved December 26, 2008.
  9. ^ "Elect Joan Huffman". Retrieved December 26, 2008.
  10. ^ "THE WORST: Senator Joan Huffman". Texas Monthly.
  11. ^ "THE WORST: Senator Joan Huffman - Texas Monthly". Texas Monthly. Retrieved 2017-03-08.
  12. ^ "Republican primary election returns, March 4, 2014 (Senate District 17)". Texas Secretary of State. Archived from the original on March 5, 2014. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  13. ^ "Texas Secretary of State Race Summary Report 2014 General Election".
  14. ^ "Journalists seek libel protection", Laredo Morning Times, March 3, 2015, p. 9A.
  15. ^ "Election Returns". Texas Secretary of State. November 6, 2018. Archived from the original on November 10, 2018. Retrieved November 12, 2018.

External links

Texas Senate
Preceded by
Kyle Janek
Member of the Texas Senate
from the 17th district

Preceded by
Kirk Watson
President pro tempore of the Texas Senate
This page was last edited on 4 August 2020, at 22:46
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