And Longtime Democrat Aaron Pena Makes It 101…

Longtime Democratic State Rep. Aaron Pena is switching to the GOP, giving Republicans 101 of the 150 seats in the Texas House.

State Rep. Aaron Pena announced Tuesday he's switching to the Republican Party. (Republican Party of Texas photo)

AUSTIN (December 14, 2010)—State Rep. Aaron Pena, a longtime Democrat from deep South Texas, announced Tuesday he’s switching to the Republican Party.

Pena said Tuesday he will "stand as a member of the Republican Party" and will run as a Republican in his next election in heavily Hispanic Hidalgo County, which he says has never elected a

Pena said Texas Democrats have strayed too far from his conservative views.

Along with Rep. Allan Ritter, who was also announcing his switch to the GOP Tuesday, Republicans will have a 101-49 supermajority in the House when the Legislature convenes in January.

That gives the GOP enough strength to do business even if none of the remaining Democrats shows up.

“Obviously, this is an important milestone for the Republican Party of Texas as it ensures that we will have a super-majority in the House of Representatives,” said Texas Republican Party Chairman Steve Munisteri.

“We look forward to adding to these numbers in the days to come,” he said.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst also issued a statement Tuesday welcoming Ritter and Pena to the GOP.

“Their determination to join our Republican majorities in the Texas Legislature is a testament to the strength of our Party's ideas and our broad base of support across the state,” he said.

“As we saw in the last election, the Republican Party has continued to grow here in Texas because we welcome new voices, and we support leaders like Representatives Ritter and Peña who will work together for commonsense conservative solutions that will benefit all Texans."

Pena, 51, who was first elected in 2002, is serving his fourth term in the Texas House.

He’s a graduate of the University of Texas and the Texas Southern University Law School.

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