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Ciro Davis Rodriguez (born December 9, 1946) is a Democratic Congressman who has represented Texas's 23rd congressional district since 2007. The district, the largest non-at large district in the nation, stretches from El Pasomarker in the west to San Antoniomarker in the east--a distance of some 500 miles. He previously represented the neighboring 28th district from 1997 to 2005.

Rodriguez has served in public office for over 30 years, first on a school board, then as a member of the Texas House of Representatives. After leaving Congress in January 2005, he joined with his former chief of staff, Jeff Mendelsohn, to create Rio Strategy Group LLC, a boutique government relations firm to assist clients at the local, state and national levels.

Early life

Rodriguez was born in Piedras Negras, Coahuilamarker, Mexicomarker, but was raised and received his education in San Antonio, Texasmarker. When Ciro Rodriguez was years old, his mother died suddenly and he dropped out of school. After working at a gas station for a year, he decided to go back to school and attended two different summer schools to catch up. He graduated with his entering class from Harlandale High School and then briefly attended San Antonio College, but subsequently graduated from St. Mary’s Universitymarker with a B.A. in Political science. He received his Master of Social Work from Our Lady of the Lake University.

From 1975 to 1987, Rodriguez served as a board member of the Harlandale Independent School District, working as an educational consultant for the Intercultural Development Research Association and served as a caseworker with the Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation. From 1987 to 1996, he taught at Our Lady of the Lake University's Worden School of Social Work.

Texas legislative career

Rodriguez served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1987 to 1997. He chaired the important Local and Consent Calendar Committee, served on the Public Health and the Higher Education Committees, and presided as a vice chairman of the Legislative Study Group. He drafted legislation to allow students to earn college credit while they were in still in high school and the law that guaranteed the top ten percent of graduating students a place at a Texas four year university.

Congressional career, 1997-2005

In January 1997, 28th District congressman Frank Tejeda died at the start of his third term. A special election to fill the remainder of his service was held in April, resulting in Rodriguez defeating his nearest rival Juan F. Solis III with 66.7% of the vote.

After being sworn in on April 12, Rodriguez served as a member of the Armed Services, Veterans' Affairs and Resources Committees. He was also the ranking member of the VA Subcommittee on Health. Additionally, he led the Congressional Hispanic Caucus as chairman from 2003 to 2004 after four years as its Health Care Task Force Chairman.

He was also involved in military base creation and redevelopment and drafted legislation creating the Brooks City-Basemarker; he also promoted the transformation of the former Kelly Air Force Basemarker into Kelly USA, a state-of-the-art maintenance and logistics center[85028]; at Fort Sam Houstonmarker, he supported a public/private enhanced use leasing initiative; he was also involved in improvements to military-run schools for children of service personnel; he worked with the Air Force and community leaders to remediate pollution from the closed Kelly base, fund numerous health studies and create a local clinic dedicated to the long-term health of the neighborhood.

Rodriguez was the lead sponsor of the Hispanic Health Improvement Act to expand coverage, reduce disparities and improve the delivery of health care resources among Hispanics[85029].

He supported the San Antonio Missions National Historical Parkmarker, the Mission Trails project, the Land Heritage Institute, the World Birding Center, and the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refugemarker. He drafted and passed legislation to create the Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail .

Loss following 2003 redistricting

The 2003 Texas redistricting shifted most of heavily Democratic Laredomarker, previously one of the cores of the neighboring 23rd District, into the already heavily Democratic 28th. Laredo is the base of former Texas Secretary of State Henry Cuellar, a somewhat more conservative Democrat. A year earlier, Cuellar had given the 23rd's 5-term incumbent, Henry Bonilla, his closest race ever. By moving most of Laredo to the 28th, the Republican-controlled legislature hoped to protect Bonilla by packing the 28th with as many Democrats as possible. In March 2004 Rodriguez lost the primary election — the real contest in this district — to Cuellar by 58 votes. Rodriguez sued to overturn Cuellar's victory, but the Texas 4th Court of Appeals ruled against him.

2006 elections

28th District

Rodriguez tried to regain his old House seat in 2006. His campaign was under-financed, but gained significant momentum after a Washington Post photographer snapped a photo of Cuellar at the 2006 State of the Union address, on the Republican side of the aisle, gleaming as President George W. Bush affectionately grabbed his face. It was not enough, however, and Rodriguez lost the March 7 Democratic primary with 48% of the vote.

23rd District

In June, the Supreme Court of the United Statesmarker ruled that the Texas Legislature had violated the Voting Rights Act when it drew most of Laredo out of the 23rd and replaced it with several heavily Republican San Antonio suburbs. A three-judge panel then drew new district lines. The new 23rd includes Rodriguez's home, along with much of his old south San Antonio base. That area had originally been part of the 23rd from its creation in 1967 to 1993.

On August 10 Rodriguez announced that he would run against Bonilla in the 23rd. The two opponents, along with original Democratic congressional nominee Rick Bolanos and four other Democrats and one Independent faced each other in an all-candidate primary on November 7. Incumbent Henry Bonilla emerged with 48.1% and Ciro Rodriguez with 20.3%.

In the runoff election, Rodriguez, in an upset victory, defeated Bonilla 54% to 46%. This made his district the 30th Democratic pickup in the 2006 House elections, and the second from Texas, after Nick Lampson, who was also sent back to Congress after being defeated in another district in 2004, like Rodriguez. It was only the second time a Republican congressional incumbent had lost to a Democratic challenger in Texas since 1988 (the first time being Nick Lampson's defeat of a Republican incumbent in 1996). Lampson served with Rodriguez again in 2007-2009, until he was defeated for the second time in 2008.

2008 Campaign

Rodriguez faced and defeated Republican nominee Bexar County Commissioner Lyle Larsonand Libertarian Lani Connolly.

Congressional career, 2007-present

Committee assignments



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