Tablet Opinion

For Burnam, time to pack up 18 years of memories

Instead of a holiday sale, state Rep. Lon Burnam hosted a going-out-of-office giveaway Tuesday.

“I’m not asking for money today,” he said, rummaging through his Fort Worth office and mementos of 18 years in the Texas House.

“I’m asking people to take things.”

Just in time for holiday giving, Burnam pointed out the “up for grabs” table: old government textbooks, office chairs, several copies of the Quran.

“Need a Mexico flag?” Burnam asked, waving at a selection in various sizes.

“I won’t be doing many Mexican Independence Day parades or programs.”

Burnam, 61, lost his House seat to fellow Democrat Ramon Romero Jr., 41, by 110 votes. But the race was mostly decided when Republican lawmakers remapped the district to empower Hispanic voters.

For Burnam, it ended a career that began when he worked for 1970s Democratic state Rep. Chris Miller, founder of the Texas chapter of the National Organization for Women.

In the 1990s, Burnam was the younger upstart challenging and finally succeeding state Rep. Doyle Willis, who made a reference to Burnam’s campaign “goons.”

His keepsakes include cups: “I was a goon in the Lon Burnam campaign.”

That word came up in Texas politics again recently, when state Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, referred to conservative activists campaigning against House Speaker Joe Straus’ re-election Jan. 13.

In 2003, Burnam was the lonely voice and vote against Speaker Tom Craddick.

“I would do it again,” he said.

“I thought Tom Craddick was ethically challenged. But this group just doesn’t like Straus’ politics. … It’s a lost cause, but if they want to pursue that, then go do it.”

He carefully marked what he’s keeping: a poster of author and former Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower and a portrait of former U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright by local artist Nancy Lamb.

“What I’ll miss most is the constituents and the people in this office,” he said. He’s keeping the office phone number for another project that he’ll announce after Jan. 1.

Among the giveaway items: state Sen. Wendy Davis coffee mugs.

He smiled and paused when asked if Davis might run for mayor of Fort Worth May 9.

“I wish she would,” he said, taking a verbal swipe at Mayor Betsy Price, a Republican.

“I call our current mayor ‘Mayor Photo-Op,’ ” Burnam said.

“She does a lot of appearances, but there’s no substance.”

With a grin, he added, “ I’m not running for mayor.’ ”

Otherwise, he wasn’t giving any plans away.