Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) says he’s appointing outgoing State Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) to replace Texas Secretary of State John Scott who announced Monday he would be stepping down by the end of the month.
Scott said Monday he planned to leave office effective Dec. 31 so that he could return to private practice. The governor said Tuesday he accepted Scott’s resignation and thanked him for his “tireless work educating Texas voters how they can participate in the electoral process and safeguarding the integrity of our state’s elections.”
In Scott’s place, Abbott said Tuesday morning he planned to install the Texas Senate’s highest-ranking Republican as the next Secretary of State.
“I appreciate the confidence Greg Abbott has placed in me to serve as Texas Secretary of State. Voters expect fair elections with accurate, timely results, and I am committed to making that happen. Texans with all political views should have faith in our election system,” Nelson said on Twitter.
Nelson, who announced in July 2021 she did not play to seek re-election in 2022, served 30 years in the Texas Senate and represented Dist. 12 which includes part of northeastern Tarrant and southern Denton counties. She hasn’t been a divisive figure in the state legislature and gives Abbott a candidate with a smoother confirmation process in the state senate chamber.
The governor’s previous two picks faced blowback and scrutiny, including Scott who came under immediate criticism in 2021 over his brief stint as a lawyer on former President Donald Trump’s legal team. Scott was preceded by David Whitley, a former Abbott aide who resigned before he could be forced out of office after calling into question the U.S. citizenship of thousands of voters based on flawed data.
Nelson was first elected to the state senate in 1992 after serving two years on the State Board of Education. Before that, she spent six years teaching elementary school in the Arlington ISD. While in the state senate, she was chair of the Senate Health Committee for longer than anyone in history before becoming the first woman to be chair of the Senate Finance Committee.
Of Nelson, Abbott’s office said “in addition to writing four balanced state budgets, Sen. Nelson has a long list of accomplishments that include establishing the Cancer Research & Prevention Institute of Texas, reforming medical liability, achieving tax relief, overhauling the foster care system, expanding access to mental health care, and passing over 30 bills to protect victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking.”
“Sen. Nelson’s lifelong commitment to public service and deep understanding of state government will be assets as she serves Texans in this new role,” Abbott said on Twitter.
Nelson and her husband, J. Michael Nelson, owned and operated an aircraft component manufacturing company in Denton County. They have five children and 12 grandchildren.
WHAT DOES THE TEXAS SECRETARY OF STATE DO?
The Secretary of State serves as the chief election officer for the state, assisting county election officials in ensuring uniform application and interpretation of the state’s election laws.
The secretary also provides a repository for official business and commercial records required to be filed with the office. The secretary publishes government rules and regulations and commissions notaries public. The secretary also serves as the keeper of the state seal and attestor to the governor’s signature on official documents. In addition, the secretary serves as senior advisor and liaison to the governor for Texas border and Mexican affairs and serves as chief international protocol officer for Texas.
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