Election Results and Summary: Primary Run-Off and Special Election in SD-14 July 14, 2020
TOP STORIES: Among the key races that received the most scrutiny, MJ Hegar narrowly prevailed in the closely-watched U.S. Senate Democratic Primary to take on longtime Republican U.S. Senator John Cornyn. Hegar was the front runner for much of the primary, and benefitted from her support from the traditional Democratic Party infrastructure and her fundraising prowess.
Meanwhile, former Travis Co. Judge Sarah Eckhardt and current State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (both Democrats from Austin) appear to be headed to a runoff in the special election in State Senate District 14. The pair easily outdistanced their four other challengers to replace the retired Sen. Kirk Watson, whose term ends in 2022.
And although it would have been considered heresy a few short years ago, a recently released Dallas Morning News poll suggests that Texas is up for grabs. The poll indicates that former Vice President Joe Biden actually leads President Donald Trump by a five-point margin (48-43) among likely voters. The same poll suggests that Cornyn leads Hegar by a thirteen-point margin, but that’s not a complete picture – Hegar should see a meaningful bump as Democrats coalesce around one candidate, meaning Cornyn could have a real race on his hands.
OTHER KEY RACES
In the Democratic primary in Senate District 19, State Rep. Roland Gutierrez prevailed over Xochil Pena Rodriguez for the opportunity to challenge State Sen. Pete Flores in the general election. Sen. Flores, a Republican from Pleasanton, won the historically Democratic seat in a special election in 2018 with a great deal of support from Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, but if the Democrats have a big year, one could expect this seat to flip back.
In the Rio Grande Valley, in Senate District 27, State Senator Eddie Lucio was victorious in the runoff for the Democratic primary against newcomer Sarah Stapleton Barrera. The longtime state senator was forced into a runoff by a crowded field.
Despite his being a Democrat, Senator Lucio’s victory is a significant win for the Senate’s Republican governing majority led by Lt. Gov Patrick. Should Sen. Flores fail to retain Senate District 19, the partisan split in the Senate will drop to 18 Republicans and 13 Democrats. However, Sen. Lucio can frequently be counted on by the Republican leadership to support certain GOP priorities, and presumably Barrera would have been a more reliable Democratic vote. Typically, 19 votes are required in the Senate to pass legislation, and with the periodic defection of Senator Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) on some issues, Gov. Patrick could find himself counting on Sen. Lucio more than ever to advance certain conservative causes.
Texas House of Representatives
Several closely watched races will affect the partisan balance of the Texas House. Among them:
House District 2 – Republican Primary: Incumbent Dan Flynn was ousted by conservative Bryan Slaton in this East Texas seat. Rep. Flynn was a chairman and a key ally of the GOP leadership. Slaton will likely promote a more conservative agenda.
House District 59 – Republican Primary: Incumbent J.D. Sheffield, a physician from Stephenville, was defeated by Shelby Slawson in one of the more high-profile contests. Rep. Sheffield was an avid supporter of the House of Medicine, particularly on immunization and vaccine issues, and has been targeted by the far right in recent years.
House District 60 – Republican Primary: In somewhat of a surprise, veterinarian Glenn Rogers of Graford defeated Jon Francis of Cisco in a bid to replace the retiring Rep. Mike Lang (R – Granbury). There is no Democratic opponent in the race. Both candidates have solid conservative credentials, but Francis is related by marriage to the Wilks Brothers, patriarchs of a billionaire family of staunch conservatives who dole out millions in financial support for far-right candidates and causes.
House District 138 – Democratic Primary: Houston area attorney Akilah Bacy topped Jennifer Rene Pool in the race to fill the seat left by retiring State Rep. Dwayne Bohac (R-Houston). Bacy will take on business owner Lacey Hull in the general election in November. This Houston-area seat could flip to the Democrats in the fall with a strong showing.
House District 142 – Democratic Primary: Longtime State Rep. Harold Dutton survived against Houston City Councilman Jerry Davis in one of the most bitterly contested races of the year. Rep. Dutton received a great deal of local criticism for his sponsorship of an education-related bill from several sessions ago, and was forced into a runoff by a “phantom” candidate, who finished third in the initial primary without mounting a campaign, and actually may be a truck driver in Colorado who never filed for the seat.
With the ballots now set for the fall general election contest, the question becomes: Will the Democrats capitalize on the historic circumstances facing the nation leading up to the 2020 elections? The challenges are well-documented – a global pandemic leaving more than 130,000 Americans dead, a COVID-ravaged economic landscape, and profound social unrest coupled to the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Meanwhile, Pres. Trump’s disconnected response to all three tribulations leaves the Democrats well-positioned to build upon the historic “Blue Wave” they enjoyed in the 2018 midterm elections.
If the 2020 general election were held today, it is likely that Pres. Trump would face a momentous defeat at the hand of the presumptive Democratic nominee Biden. The U.S. House would probably become more Democratic as well, potentially adding to the 40-seat gain in 2018. And while most observers speculated early in the election cycle that the U.S. Senate would remain safely Republican, that would be a considerably more dangerous bet today. Even the Texas House could flip, assuming several key races fall the Democrats’ way. All in all, Pres. Trump’s declining approval rating, and a Democratic lead over Republicans in generic congressional and Texas State House polling, collectively spell big problems for the GOP in the fall.
With that said, the election is obviously NOT being held today. There are nearly four months ahead before the November general election – a lifetime in politics – and it is reasonable to predict that Pres. Trump can regain his footing, and assist his party down the ballot. If COVID-19 infections begin to slow and the U.S. economy meaningfully improves, and if Pres. Trump can develop a consistent and reassuring message to the American people, there is still plenty of time for the GOP ship to be righted.
We will be watching this final sprint to November closely, and will continue to report on developments as they occur.
Click here to view all the up to date results in more detail. As always, please let us know if you have any questions or comments.
January 28, 2020 Special Election Run-offs in House Districts 28, 100, and 148
The results are in for the special election run-offs in House Districts 28, 100, and 148.
A special election was held in three districts in Texas on Tuesday night. Most of the attention was concentrated on District 28 due to the impact that election could have on the majority in the Texas House.
Gary Gates (R-Rosenberg) won the District 28 seat vacated by Rep. John Zerwas (R) who retired after the 86thLegislative session. This win will most likely give Republicans confidence going into November with hopes of keeping their majority. The race drew national attention, with Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren endorsing Democrat Eliz Markowitz, and significant resources being invested by both parties.
District 148 and District 100 have historically voted Democrat and last night that remained true, with results showing Anna Eastman (D-Houston) the winner in District 148 and Lorrain Birabil (D-Dallas) the winner of District 100.
House District 28
Vacated by John Zerwas (R-Richmond) who served 14 years in the House and was Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
- Winner: Gary Gates (R-Rosenberg) – 17,457 votes (58.05%)
- Elizabeth “Eliz” Markowitz (D-Katy) – 12,617 votes (41.95%)
House District 100
Vacated by Eric Johnson(D-Dallas) who became Mayor of Dallas.
- Winner: Lorraine Birabil (D-Dallas) – 1,643 votes (66.28%)
- James Armstrong III (D-Dallas) – 836 votes (33.72%)
House District 148
Vacated by Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) who served for 25 years in the House retired.
- Winner: Anna Eastman (D-Houston) – 4,527 votes (65.47%)
- Luis La Rotta (R-Houston) – 2,388 votes (34.53%)
With GOP Supermajority at Risk in 2020, Dan Patrick Says Texas Senate May Lower Threshold to Bring Bills to the Floor
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said he may seek to decrease the threshold required to move legislation in the Texas State Senate to a simple majority if Republicans lose one or two seats in November. Currently, 19 votes are required to put legislation on the floor for passage, but if Republicans lose Sen. Pete Flores, (R-Pleasanton) who is running for reelection in a historically Democratic district, Patrick said they may have to go to a simple majority of 16. He expressed confidence that Republicans will succeed in November, and that the party will keep the majority in the Senate. Democrats were very critical of this approach, believing it to erode the bi-partisan tradition of the Texas Senate. Changing the threshold requires a simple majority when senators vote to approve their rules at the start of every session. Read the full article here.
Texas Physicians Propose Mass Violence Prevention Strategies
Texas physicians laid out medicine’s priorities before a special committee of the Texas House of Representatives late last week. The hearing was held in El Paso and featured testimony from Alan Tyroch, MD, Chair of Surgery at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso who coordinated trauma care after the mass shooting in El Paso last year, and outlined TMA’s eight recommendations for addressing mass violence. Dr. Joseph Penn, clinical professor of psychiatry at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) and representing the Texas Society of Psychiatric Physicians also testified. Dr. Penn mentioned how mental health is not a predictor of and not the major factor in mass violence, and that the overall best predictor of future violence is past violence. Read the full article here.