State Rep. Lina Ortega, a Democrat who has represented El Paso’s District 77 in the Texas House of Representatives since 2017, announced Thursday that she will not seek re-election.

“I am proud of what I have accomplished during the past seven years. I have authored numerous laws including such things as legislation to spur economic development, health care expansion to benefit families and children, and a homeowners consumer protection law to prevent fraudulent transactions. I have also secured significant funding for local projects,” Ortega, 67, said in a prepared statement.

“My efforts have paid off and hopefully they will continue to benefit my community for a long time. Yet much remains to be done, including to ensure that El Paso gets a law school in the near future. I will continue to work on this goal,” her statement said.

State Sen. César Blanco, D-El Paso, paid tribute to Ortega following her announcement.

Lina has been a vocal champion for our community as part of our El Paso state legislative delegation. From her tireless work on transportation to her advocacy for repairing the Wyler Tramway and establishing a law school in El Paso, she has made a positive difference for our community, which the El Paso delegation will continue,” Blanco said in a prepared statement. 

Ortega, an attorney, was first elected in 2016, following the retirement of state Rep. Marisa Marquez. She defeated Adolfo Lopez in the Democratic primary that year, and was unopposed in the general election.

She was unopposed in her re-election bids in 2018, 2020 and 2022.

Newly drawn district boundaries during the 2021 legislative session put Ortega in the same district with fellow Democratic state Rep. Claudia Ordaz. The redistricting plan – which was opposed by Ortega and Ordaz as well as fellow El Paso Democratic state Reps. Joe Moody, Mary González and Art Fierro – caused a rift in the county’s House delegation.

Ordaz moved so that she would take on Fierro rather than Ortega, and she defeated him handily in the 2022 Democratic primary. Ordaz faced no opposition in the November general election.

The bulk of the population of House District 77 is in Central El Paso, but the sprawling district stretches from West El Paso to near Socorro in the Lower Valley.

No candidates have yet announced that they are running for the now-open seat in the 2024 election. The seat is viewed as safely Democratic based on historic election patterns.

El Paso’s other three House incumbents – Moody, González and Ordaz – have announced re-election bids or are expected to do so.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that some members of the El Paso House delegation supported the 2021 redistricting plan.

Disclosure: Lina Ortega is a financial supporter of El Paso Matters.

Robert Moore is the founder and CEO of El Paso Matters. He has been a journalist in the Texas Borderlands since 1986.