The Republican Party’s poor handling of the 85th Legislature along with the Beto O’Rourke phenomenon combined to turn out more than a few GOP legislators who needed to go because they simply weren’t serious about the business of governing.
But that same voter reaction also cost a few good legislators their jobs, and among them was Linda Koop, who lost the race to represent the 102nd district in north and northeastern Dallas.
Her Democratic opponent Ana-Maria Ramos, a 44-year-old educator and attorney, defeated Koop with grassroots organizing that built on voter anger over the GOP’s failure to legislate around important issues like school finance reform.
In this case, voters made a mistake, and they should return Koop, 70, to Austin.
In her years on the Dallas City Council and in the Texas Legislature, Koop has been a model of moderation and back-to-basics governing.
There are few people in government who can match Koop’s depth of knowledge about budgets, transportation and the arcane areas of governance often understood only by the longest lasting bureaucrats.
It is in these areas that Koop thrives, and her constituents tend to benefit because she is willing to wrangle with the details to bring back results.
She did so by ensuring Dallas got a fairer share of transportation dollars from Austin, by helping to lay the framework for what became school finance reform and by ensuring that Dallas’ public higher education institutions, along with UT Southwestern, continued to be fully funded.
Koop is classically conservative on fiscal matters. Low taxation and efficient governance are a mantra. But she also recognizes that state government has a crucial role to play in building up society.
Ramos is farther to the left than Koop is to the right in our view. And in important areas, such as education reform, we are less sure that Ramos would support teacher accountability and schools of choice. Parents in a district like this, where neighborhood schools have too often let children down, need more than one option.
If Koop has a fault, it is that she gets so tied into the minutiae of governing that it can be hard to follow her into the weeds and understand what she is proposing. She should ensure that constituents who are less informed than she is, and that is almost all of them, know what she stands for on every issue.
But her experience, knowledge and accomplishments make Koop the clear choice in this race.