|Judith Pappas Zaffirini|
|Zaffirini in 2009.|
|Member of the Texas Senate
from the 21st district
|Preceded by||John Traeger|
February 13, 1946 |
Laredo, Webb County
|Spouse(s)||Carlos Zaffirini, Sr.|
|Children||Carlos Zaffirini, Jr.|
|Alma mater||Laredo Community College
Judith Pappas Zaffirini (born February 13, 1946) is a Democratic member of the Texas State Senate representing the 21st District, which includes her home city of Laredo in south Texas. On January 9, 2007, Zaffirini became the second in seniority in the 31-member Texas Senate, of which she has been a member since 1987. Zaffirini has been named among the "Top 100 Most Influential Hispanics in the United States" by Hispanic Business magazine, which has been published in California since 1979. Zaffirini is the first Mexican American woman elected to the Texas Senate.
In 1986, Zaffirini defeated the late State Representative William N. "Billy" Hall, Jr., in the Democratic runoff primary for state senator. She then defeated Republican attorney and businessman Bennie Walter Bock of San Antonio in the general election.
Zaffirini has continued to defeat intraparty and interparty challengers in her Webb County-based district. She was to have faced San Antonio attorney Rene Barrientos (born January 25, 1954), in Democratic primary held on March 4, 2008, but Barrientos withdrew from the race on January 9. Barrientos' name remained on the ballot, and he did some advertising. Zaffirini won the nomination, 108,572 (78.6 perent) to Barrientos' 23,262 ballots (21.4 percent).
In the general election held on November 4, 2008, Zaffirini carried all seventeen counties in the district to defeat former county judge (2003–2007) Louis Henry Bruni (born July 9, 1949), a Laredo Democrat who switched to Republican affiliation on December 27, 2007. Though Bruni made a vigorous campaign effort, Zaffirini received 129,608 votes (68.2 percent) to Bruni's 55,363 (29.1 percent). Another 4,966 ballots (2.6 percent) were cast for Libertarian Barry L. Allison (born March 18, 1948) of San Antonio. After the loss to Zaffirini, Bruni returned to the Democratic Party.
In 2004, Zaffirini had easily defeated Bruni's brother, Raymond Anthony Bruni (born 1948), in the Democratic primary. In announcing his candidacy, Louis Bruni said that the historically Democratic district could be ripe for a partisan turnover. Prior to his judgeship, Bruni had been a member of the nonpartisan Laredo City Council. Bruni also said that his opposition to Zaffirini stems in part from a legal feud that he had with his brother prior to Raymond Bruni's campaign against the senator.
Despite her Democratic heritage, Zaffirini is known for her ability to work across party lines, particularly her friendship with Republican Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, the presiding officer of the state Senate, who lost the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate in 2012 to Ted Cruz. Zaffirini had a similar close tie to the late Democratic Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock, for whom the Laredo Loop 20 interchange is named. Undefeated at the polls, Zaffirini declared "voters are always well informed, and I believe they will decide to support me based on my record and seniority."
Zaffirini has a 100 percent voting record, having cast more than fifty thousand consecutive votes since January 1987. She even once missed her son's graduation to maintain the record. She would also have a career perfect attendance record too except for of the monthJuly 2003, when she joined her fellow Democrats who fled to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to prevent a quorum to halt Republican plans to re-redistrict the Texas congressional map. After three special legislative sessions, the GOP plan was adopted, but it was later altered by the United States Supreme Court. That change resulted in the defeat in 2006 of Republican U.S. Representative Henry Bonilla of San Antonio.
Zaffirini is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. While she and her attorney-husband, Carlos M. Zaffirini, Sr. (born 1943), were attending UT, they worked in the late 1960s on the staff of District 21 State Senator Wayne Connally, brother of Governor John B. Connally, Jr. During this time, serious attention was focused on establishing a university in Laredo. Soon the satellite campus of Texas A&M University - Kingsville, then known as Texas A&I, opened in Laredo. In 1970, Laredo State University was launched with Billy F. Cowart as the president, and in 1993, Senator Zaffirini secured legislation creating the four-year Texas A&M International University on a separate campus off the Bob Bullock Loop. Zaffirini's work in the education field led to her being named "Laredoan of the year" in 2009 by the Laredo Morning Times.
Zaffirini studied two summers at Laredo Community College (then Laredo Junior College). On December 17, 2007, she was honored by the LCC board of trustees with its inaugural "Beacon Award", a creation from the college's sixtieth anniversary. According to LCC president Juan L. Maldonado, the award recognizes individuals whose altruistic efforts have improved and advanced the welfare of the Webb County community. Maldonado said that the beacon "evokes the flame of the lamp of learning, which represents the role of the individual in bringing enlightenment and hope to others.... Senator Zaffirini embodies all of these admirable traits... and make her the ideal recipient of this award." In 2004, LCC named its new south campus library in honor of Zaffirini. She is also honored through the Zaffirini Elementary School, 5210 Santa Claudia Lane in Laredo, one of the campuses of the United Independent School District.
In 2007, Zaffirini led a successful movement to restore $154 million in community college funds vetoed by Governor Rick Perry.
In 2011, Zaffirini voted against the state appropriations bill because it reduced funding for public education by $5.4 billion, including $1.4 billion for targeted programs, such as pre-kindergarten expansion grants, one of her favorite programs. In 2013, Zaffirini will push for the issuance of tuition revenue bonds to fund capital construction projects on state college and university campuses, including TAMIU in Laredo.
In 2012, Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst removed Zaffirini from the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Higher Education in favor of Kel Seliger, a Republican from Amarillo. Instead Zaffirni chairs the Senate Committee on Government Organization. She will remain a member of the higher education committee under Seliger and will continue as the co-chair of the Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance Excellence and Transparency. Zaffirini said that she will continue to influence higher education policy "but the only difference is that the gavel won't be in my hand."
In the November 6 general election, Zaffirini handily defeated the Republican candidate, Grant Elliot Rostig (born c. 1958) of Lockhart, a supporter of the Ron Paul presidential campaign in 2012 who was endorsed by the Republican Liberty Caucus. Zaffirini received 129,681 votes (67.6 percent) to Rostig's x55,933 (29.2 percent). The remaining 2.7 percent of the vote went to the Libertarian nominee, Joseph Morse.
Election history of Zaffirini since 1992.
Most recent election
|Texas General Election, 2008: Senate District 21|
|Republican - Louis H. Bruni||55,363||29.15|
|Libertarian - Barry L. Allison||4,966||2.61|
|✓||Democrat - Judith Zaffirini (Incumbent)||129,608||68.24|
|Democratic primary, 2008: Senate District 21|
|✓||Judith Zaffirini (Incumbent)||108,572||78.6|
|Texas general election, 2004: Senate District 21|
|Democratic||Judith Zaffirini (Incumbent)||127,573||100.00||+10.89|
|Democratic primary, 2004: Senate District 21|
|✓||Judith Zaffirini (Incumbent)||62,960||78.65|
|Texas general election, 2002: Senate District 21|
|Democratic||Judith Zaffirini (Incumbent)||95,644||89.11||+22.65|
|Texas general election, 2000: Senate District 21|
|Democratic||Judith Zaffirini (Incumbent)||106,089||66.46||+0.14|
|Texas general election, 1996: Senate District 21|
|Republican||James C. Whitworth||46,698||33.68||+2.21|
|Democratic||Judith Zaffirini (Incumbent)||91,956||66.32||-2.21|
|Texas general election, 1994: Senate District 21|
|Democratic||Judith Zaffirini (Incumbent)||71,029||68.53||-31.47|
|Texas general election, 1992: Senate District 21|
|Democratic||Judith Zaffirini (Incumbent)||111,398||100.00|
- Office of the Secretary of State (Texas) (2002-09-13). "State Senate Candidates for 2002 General Election". Retrieved 2006-12-27.
- Odie Arambula, "Magazine names Zaffirini influential", Laredo Morning Times, October 13, 2008, p. 4A
- Vaughn, Reese. "Women around Texas share their words of wisdom." The Victoria Advocate. Friday August 30, 2002. 10E. Retrieved on February 4, 2012.
- Democratic primary returns, Laredo Morning Times, March 5, 2008, p. 1
- Aguilar, Julian (2007-12-28). "Bruni becomes Republican in a bid to unseat Zaffirini". Laredo Morning Times. p. 1A, 13A.
- Cortez, Tricia (2008-01-10). "Zaffirini foe quits". Laredo Morning Times. pp. 1, 12A.
- Cortez, Tricia (2007-12-21). "Zaffirini's ready to run for her state senate seat". Laredo Morning Times. p. 3A.
- ""Texas Sen. Zaffirini casts 50,000th vote"". Lubbock Avalanche Journal. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
- Jason Buch, "Laredoan of the year: Zaffirini recognized as education champion", Laredo Morning Times, January 1, 2009, p. 1
- Alvarado, Celina (2007-12-18). "State senator given college's first-ever 'Beacon Award'". Laredo Morning Times. pp. 1, 13A.
- "Senator Zaffirini eyes education budget restoration", Laredo Morning Times, pp. 1J, 9J, January 27, 2013
- JJ Velasquez, "Sen. Zaffirini out", Laredo Morning Times, October 5, 2012, pp. 1, 11A
- "Grant Rostig for State Senator, District 21". grantrostig.com. Retrieved November 5, 2012.
- "Texas general election returns, November 6, 2012". Texas Secretary of State. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
- Uncontested primary elections are not shown.
- "2008 General Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Retrieved 2008-11-04.
- "2008 Democratic Party Primary Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Retrieved 2007-03-04.
- "2004 General Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Retrieved 2007-01-04.
- "2004 Democratic Party Primary Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Retrieved 2007-01-04.
- "2002 General Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Retrieved 2007-01-04.
- "2000 General Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Retrieved 2007-01-04.
- "1996 General Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Retrieved 2007-01-04.
- "1994 General Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Retrieved 2007-01-04.
- "1992 General Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Retrieved 2007-01-04.
- Senate of Texas - Senator Judith Zaffirini official TX Senate website
- Project Vote Smart - Senator Judith Zaffirini (TX) profile
- Follow the Money - Judith Zaffirini
|Texas State Senator
from District 21 (Laredo)
1987 – present