In an interview in The Monitor, the Chair of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee says he is thinking about not running for re-election to the House. Aaron Peña recently discredited himself by blocking the popular Innocence Commission proposal in his own committee. Paul Burka called his committee “talent poor” after it passed out a version of “Jessica’s Law” without giving it “the scrutiny it should have received in committee”. The well-respected criminal justice blog Grits For Breakfast said “this committee has been a HUGE disappointment”. Peña cemented his reputation for being not quite ready for the big leagues by childishly redirecting a link on his blog of one of his hometown critics to a toilet sounds website. His acting out gave rise to the nickname Aaron “Toilet Sounds” Peña.
Peña’s poor performance this session leading the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee raised the probability that he would only serve one term as chair. Now, it sounds like he has come up with an excuse for quitting other than the obvious one that he didn’t do a very good job. According to The Monitor:
State Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, strongly suggested in an interview Friday evening that he might not run again for the Legislature now that his six-year quest to have a drug treatment center built in the Rio Grande Valley is coming to a close.
The final version of the state budget presented Friday includes $3 million to build a treatment center in Edinburg. He and other Valley lawmakers have pushed for the facility.
Peña’s 16-year-old son died May 18, 2001, of a drug overdose at a party. Peña was elected to the House in 2002 after promising in his campaign to improve access to substance-abuse treatment.
“When I first ran, my commitment was to build a drug treatment center, and now that it’s done, I feel like my work is done here,” Peña said.
Peña, 47, said he did not know when he would make a final decision whether to run for another two-year term. His current term ends in January 2009.