Texas Lawmaker Resumes Political Duties After Military Stint

8-26-05 - State Rep. Rick Noriega describes himself as a political junkie.

But when he had to put his political career on hold to serve a yearlong stint in Afghanistan with the Texas Army National Guard, this year's legislative session was the furthest thing from his mind.

"I was surprised how disinterested I was. I was more interested in getting (safely) to work everyday," said Noriega, referring to his daily travel on Jalalabad Road, a dangerous roadway near Kabul, the Afghani capital.

Noriega, 47, who ran unopposed and was re-elected while he was in Afghanistan, chose to have his wife, Melissa, serve in the Legislature for him until he returned.

The Houston Democrat returned to Texas earlier this month. At midnight on Friday, he will resume his lawmaking duties. He is not planning an elaborate ceremony, just a small gathering at his home with family and friends over menudo and tamales.