Of the 181 seats in the Texas Legislature, 6 are occupied by physicians. And while that may not sound too impressive, that figure is actually good enough to make Texas the national leader in physician-legislators. Breaking it down even further, you’ll find that one-third of those doctors are UTMB graduates. Let’s take a minute to get to know our alumni-legislators.
Senator Charles Schwertner
Dr. Charles Schwertner graduated from the UTMB School of Medicine in 1996 (as did his wife Belinda). The orthopedic surgeon from Georgetown got his start in state politics when he decided to run for the House seat of retiring member Dan Gattis in 2010. Dr. Schwertner easily won that election with over 82% of the vote in the general election.
Dr. Schwertner’s tenure in the House was a brief one thanks the seat in the Senate that became open with the retirement of Senator Steve Ogden (who was one of the biggest supporters of restoring UTMB after Hurricane Ike) in 2012. Rep. Schwertner easily transitioned into Sen. Schwertner in January of 2013 after winning over 77% of the vote in the general. Dr. Schwertner gets to apply his health care knowledge in his role as the chair of the Health & Human Services Committee and also serves as a member of the Administration, Business & Commerce, Finance and State Affairs committees.
Senator Charles Schwertner with current UTMB School of Medicine students
Representative Greg Bonnen
Dr. Greg Bonnen graduated from the UTMB School of Medicine in 1992, just a couple of years after his wife, Kim, graduated from the UTMB School of Health Professions. The Friendswood neurosurgeon made his way to Austin in 2013 when garnered just north of 73% of the vote in the general election for House District 24 which covers northern Galveston County. His victory afforded him the unique opportunity to serve in the House alongside his brother, Dennis, who represents District 25. Representative Bonnen is a member of the powerful Appropriations Committee as well as the very district-relevant Insurance Committee.
UTMB students with Dr. Greg Bonnen, State Representative from Friendswood and UTMB alum
Dr. Dawn Buckingham
Dr. Dawn Buckingham will become the third UTMB School of Medicine graduate in the legislature should she be able to win the Senate seat vacated by long-time Senator Troy Fraser. Dr. Buckingham faces a very crowded field in the Republican primary that will most certainly lead to a run-off before the general in November. The Lakeway (Austin) plastic surgeon is a 1997 graduate (as is her husband Ed).