The only Black Republican in the Texas Legislature is retiring.
“James White is a representative from East Texas. He actually is originally from Houston, but he’s kind of a little bit of an enigma and kind of a character,” Barragán said. “He’s from Houston but moved out to the country. That’s where he made his life.”
White has represented East Texas since 2010. Last year, he announced he would not seek reelection and instead run in the Republican primary for Agriculture Commissioner against incumbent Sid Miler. “He was due to end his term in January,” Barragán said, “but he’s leaving a little early to go be the executive director of the Texas Funeral Services Commission.”
“I think Rep. White will be remembered for being a very conservative lawmaker,” Barragán says, noting White’s support for hard-right priorities like unlicensed firearm carry. While White occasionally made common cause with the left on some criminal justice issues, particularly juvenile justice issues like truancy, he leaves a right-wing legacy. “He was the only Black Republican in the Legislature. And that always sort of raised eyebrows, particularly when he sponsored in 2019 a bill to make it harder to remove Confederate monuments.”
For more stories from the week in Texas politics, including the latest on the potential firing of Uvalde schools police chief Pete Arredondo and why signs reading “In God We Trust” are appearing in Texas schools, listen to the Q&A above.