Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, is the highest-ranking Republican in the Senate. After 30 years in the Legislature, Nelson shared in 2021 that she was not seeking re-election and would retire ahead of the 2023 legislative session.
Nelson will replace outgoing Secretary of State John Scott, who announced his resignation Dec. 5. After over a year on the job, Scott said he plans to step down Dec. 31 and return to his private legal practice.
As Texas’ 115th secretary of state, Nelson will be the state’s top election official. She will supervise elections, maintain voter records and enforce campaign finance laws. According to the secretary of state’s website, the office also handles Texas’ international affairs and manages records about Texas’ corporations, financial filings and more.
This is Abbott’s fourth appointee to the office in four years. Under Texas law, a secretary of state who is appointed outside of a regular legislative session must be confirmed by the Senate during the next session. The Texas Legislature meets during odd-numbered years from January through May.
Scott did not undergo the confirmation process because his resignation came before the 2023 session, which will begin Jan. 10. However, Abbott’s previous two picks—David Whitley and Ruth Hughs—did not receive votes from two-thirds of the Senate, which is required for confirmation.
Nelson’s experience in the Senate gives her an advantage in the confirmation process. She was praised by various state leaders and lawmakers on social media following the governor’s announcement, including Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick and Tan Parker, an outgoing state representative who was elected to replace Nelson in the 12th Senate District.
Who is Sen. Jane Nelson?
Elected in 1992, Nelson is the longest-serving Republican in the Texas Senate. She previously served on the State Board of Education for eight years, according to a news release from her office.
“I look forward to this new chapter of public service and appreciate the confidence Governor Abbott has placed in me to serve as Secretary of State,” Nelson said in the release. “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 does not have direct experience with election legislation in the Senate. She most recently served as the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, which writes the state’s budget, and was the first woman to do so. She has also lead the Senate Health Committee and passed bills on topics such as foster care, mental health, property taxes, and protections for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
“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 in a tweet.
Abbott did not specify when Nelson will take office.