Rick Noriega

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Rick Noriega
Brigadier General Richard J. "Rick" Noriega
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from the 145th district
In office
Personal details
Born (1958-01-08) January 8, 1958 (age 60)
Houston, Texas
Political party Democratic
Residence Houston, Texas
Alma mater University of Houston,
Harvard University,
Texas A&M University
Military service
Service/branch United States Army,
Texas Army National Guard
Years of service 1979-present
Rank Brigadier General
Battles/wars Enduring Freedom

Richard Joel Noriega (born January 8, 1958) is a former member of the Texas House of Representatives from District 145 in eastern Houston, first elected in 1998. He was the 2008 Democratic nominee for the United States Senate against one-term Republican incumbent John Cornyn.[2] Noriega is also a retired major general in the Texas Army National Guard. Noriega is a Mexican American and the father of two sons.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Noriega was born and raised in Houston.[4] After graduating from Mount Carmel High School he attended Alvin Community College on a Rusk Athletic Scholarship where he played baseball. Noriega graduated from the University of Houston in 1984 with an ROTC Scholarship and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He graduated from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1990. He also earned a certificate in advanced international affairs from the George Bush School at Texas A&M University.[5] Noriega is also a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, where he completed his assignment as a fellow at the University of Texas.

Military service[edit]

Noriega joined the United States Army in 1979 in the wake of the Iran hostage crisis. He became an officer in the Texas Army National Guard in 1984, and served in the Afghanistan War that followed the September 11, 2001 attacks.[6]

On his return from Afghanistan, Mayor Bill White requested that Noriega command the evacuee shelter operation at the George Brown Convention Center in Houston, where he oversaw thousands of Hurricane Katrina evacuees.[7] Noriega then commanded the Laredo Sector working with U.S. Border Patrol during Operation Jump Start.

Noriega's awards include: the Combat Infantryman Badge; Senior Parachutist Badge; Legion of Merit; Meritorious Service Medal; Army Commendation Medal; Army Achievement Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal; and Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.,[8] and the Legion of Merit.

Public service[edit]

Noriega was a project manager for Communities in Schools, and taught in the Houston Independent School District and in the Houston Community College System before becoming a staff member for the Texas State Senate. In 1993 he joined the Government Affairs Department of Houston Industries, Inc. (now CenterPoint Energy, Inc.). He became a manager in the company's Economic Development Department after winning the Democratic nomination for Texas State Representative.[9]

Noriega was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1998 and served five terms, 1999 to 2009. He acted as the Budget and Oversight Chair of the Defense Affairs and State-Federal Relations Committee, and also sat on the Appropriations Committee.[10]

Noriega's House district was mostly Hispanic and low income, and included many residents who never completed high school.[11]

He authored and sponsored more than 100 bills in the Texas Legislature. His major legislative accomplishment was authoring House Bill 1403, The Texas Dream Act, in 2001. The bill made Texas the first state to offer in-state tuition rates and financial assistance for immigrant children and started a national movement; today, 17 states have similar laws, providing access to higher education to thousands.

Noriega was selected to serve on the Military Leadership Diversity Commission by the Obama Administration which authored it's March 15, 2011 report, "From Representation to Inclusion: Diversity Leadership for the 20th Century Military."

2008 U.S. Senate campaign[edit]

Noriega narrowly avoided a runoff election by receiving 51 percent of the vote in the March 4, 2008 Democratic primary. His opponents were Gene Kelly (a perennial candidate), Ray McMurrey, and Rhett Smith. Prior to the filing deadline, trial attorney Mikal Watts withdrew from his bid for the Democratic nomination on October 23, 2007.[12] Noriega faced Republican incumbent John Cornyn, who outraised him financially and who received 81 percent of the vote in the Republican primary, in the November 4 general election.[13] Noriega was ultimately defeated by Cornyn in the general election.

Election results[edit]

2008 United States Senate[edit]

2008 Texas U.S. Senate general election
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican John Cornyn 4,337,469 54.82 -0.48
Democratic Rick Noriega 3,389,365 42.83 -0.50
Libertarian Yvonne Adams Schick 185,241 2.34 +1.55
Majority 948,104
Turnout 7,912,075 58.28
Republican hold Swing
2008 US Senate, Democratic Primary
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Rick Noriega 1,108,318 51.01% +0.00%
Democratic Gene Kelly 583,845 26.87% +0.00%
Democratic Ray McMurrey 268,742 12.37% +0.00%
Democratic Rhett Smith 211,811 9.75% +0.00%

2006 State House 145[edit]

2006 State House 145, General Election
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Rick Noriega 7,773 100.00% +0.00%
2006 State House 145, Democratic Primary
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Rick Noriega 784 100.00% +0.00%

2004 State House 145[edit]

2004 State House 145, General Election
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Rick Noriega 15,160 100.00% +0.00%
2004 State House 145, Democratic Primary
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Rick Noriega 2,044 100.00% +0.00%

2002 State House 145[edit]

2002 State House 145, General Election
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Rick Noriega 11,087 100.00% +28.57%
2002 State House 145, Democratic Primary
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Rick Noriega 3,315 100.00% +0.00%

2000 State House 145[edit]

2000 State House 145, General Election
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Rick Noriega 12,158 71.43% +4.31%
Republican Michael Bunch 4,863 28.57% -4.31%
2000 State House 145, Democratic Primary
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Rick Noriega 1,381 100.00% +40.93%

1998 State House 145[edit]

1998 State House 145, General Election
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Rick Noriega 6,405 67.12%
Republican Michael Bunch 3,137 32.88%
1998 State House 145, Democratic Primary
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Rick Noriega 1,192 59.07%
Democratic Ben Mendez 488 24.18%
Democratic John Ray Harrison 213 10.56%
Democratic Jamie Bray 95 4.71%
Democratic Mark Sandoval 30 1.49%



Noriega proposed a comprehensive plan to help struggling families keep their homes during the 2008 economic downturn, focusing on revamping bankruptcy law, increased funding of counseling for struggling homeowners, and a tax credit of $2000 for homeowners who refinance into a fixed-rate loan. He also proposed funding to allow homeowners to refinance into FHA (Federal Housing Administration) backed loans, which generally provide lower rates of interest than private commercial loans.

Domestic security and immigration[edit]

Noriega served the National Guard as commander of the Laredo sector during Operation Jump Start, which deployed approximately 18,000 Guardsmen to the US/Mexico border in 2006 to provide increased border security until an improved immigration reform package could be approved on Capitol Hill. Noriega focused on curtailing human trafficking and drug smuggling at the border, and called for more advanced surveillance technology to be deployed at the border as well as for more Guardsmen to be deployed there. Noriega opposed the use of a border fence to curb illegal immigration and trafficking.[14]

Noriega also authored HB 2546, a bill passed by the Texas legislature that restricts the sale of ammonium nitrate in order to prevent its use in criminal or terrorist activity such as the Oklahoma City bombing.[15]

Post Senate race activities[edit]

In 2011 Noriega, then a Colonel, was named commander of the Texas National Guard's 71st Theater Information Operations Group.[16]

Noriega was selected for promotion to Brigadier General in 2013[17] and assigned as Assistant Division Commander—Support for the 36th Infantry Division.[18] He then served as the Assistant Deputy Adjutant General-Army for the Texas National Guard. Noriega retired effective January 31, 2018, and was promoted to Major General.

In his civilian career Noriega is Chief Executive Officer of the Ronald McDonald House Houston, a non-profit organization that offers a home away from home for critically ill children receiving treatment and care in the Texas Medical Center.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Rick Noriega for Texas - About". 
  2. ^ Noriega avoids runoff in Senate bid; Cornyn wins easily Robert T. Garrett, Dallas Morning News, March 5, 2008
  3. ^ "Political People and their Moves." Texas Weekly. Retrieved on November 22, 2011. "In focus groups for his campaign, it wasn't uncommon to hear inquiries about how to pronounce "Noriega" and people saying they wouldn't be voting for him if he called himself "Mexican-American" instead of plain ol' American."
  4. ^ Rick Noriega Profile Houston Chronicle
  5. ^ Candidate profile, Rick Noriega, Democracy for America
  6. ^ Capitol Annex blog, Wes Clark Endorses Rick Noriega, November 7, 2007
  7. ^ Charles Kuffner, A Year Ago This Weekend, Off the Kuff, September 3, 2006
  8. ^ PR Newswire
  9. ^ W. Gardner Selby, Corpus Christi Teacher is Candidate's Main Hurdle Before November, Austin American-Statesman, January 13, 2008
  10. ^ Half Empty Blog, Rick Noriega Formally Announces Formation of Senatorial Exploratory Committee, July 11, 2007
  11. ^ Leung, Rebecca. "The 'Texas Miracle'." 60 Minutes. February 11, 2009. Retrieved on November 22, 2011.
  12. ^ Statement from Mikal Watts October 23, 2007
  13. ^ "Survey USA TX Jr Sen Approval". Retrieved 2007-12-09. 
  14. ^ Senate candidate Noriega lays out immigration plan Texarkana Gazette, August 7, 2008
  15. ^ H.B. No. 2546 Texas State Legislature
  16. ^ Mark Rockwell, New Texas Guard Brigade Commander Will Work on Homeland Security Issues, Government Security News, August 12, 2011
  17. ^ "Congressional Record: U.S. Senate Confirmations". Congress.gov. Library of Congress. May 23, 2013. Retrieved December 8, 2014. 
  18. ^ "University of Houston Honors Noriega for Service". http://www.avance.org. AVANCE, Inc. April 26, 2014. Retrieved December 8, 2014.  External link in |website= (help)

External links[edit]