This November’s midterm elections set new records for the State of Texas and reflects a new shift in direction for Texas politics. Over 8.3 million Texans turned out to vote in this midterm, nearly doubling the 4.6 million who turned out in the 2014 midterm election. While Republicans remain in control of the Texas Legislature and statewide offices, Democrats captured more seats in the Texas Senate, the Texas House, and Texas is sending more Democrats to Congress.
U.S. Senate Race
In the top-of-ticket race, Ted Cruz held onto his Senate seat, earning 50.89% of the vote to defeat Democrat Beto O’Rourke. Though Republicans held that seat and every other statewide elected office, Democrats rode enthusiasm behind the Senate race to several important victories in Congress and in the state legislature.
Texas Statewide Offices
Republicans maintained their two-decade stronghold on the statewide office in Texas, though some races were closer than expected. Greg Abbott handily defeated Democrat Lupe Valdez for a second term as Governor, earning 55.8% of the vote. Further down the ballot, Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick, and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller all held their seats, while all open statewide judicial seats also went Republican.
In the Texas Senate, two Dallas-area Republican incumbents, Don Huffines and Konni Burton, were defeated by Democratic challengers Nathan Burton and Beverly Powell, respectively. Still, Republicans will retain their Senate 60% majority to work around the blocker bill, thanks to freshman senator Pete Flores, who won a formerly Democratically-held seat in a special election earlier this year.
Texas House of Representatives
In the Texas House, 12 Republicans seats will be replaced by Democrats: Democrat John Bucy defeated Tony Dale in HD-136; Ana-Maria Ramos defeated Linda Koop in HD-102; Thresa Meza defeated Rodney Anderson in HD-105; Julie Johnson defeated Matt Rinaldi in TX-115; Vikki Goodwin defeated Paul Workman in HD-47; Jon Rosenthal defeated Gary Elkins in HD-135; Michelle Beckley defeated Ron Simmons in HD-65, Gina Calanni defeated Mike Schofield in HD 132.
Other Democrats won open seats that were last held by a Republican: Erin Zwiener in HD-45, formerly held by Jason Isaac; James Talarico in HD-52, formerly held by Larry Gonzales; Rhetta Andrews Bowers in HD-113, formerly held by Cindy Burkett; and John Turner in HD-114, formerly held by Jason Villalba. Republicans’ majority went from a 95-55 advantage to 83-67. The Texas House will have 29 new members, from retirements, primary loses and seats flipped in the November election.
Dennis Bonnen in line to become Texas House Speaker
State Representative Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, appears set to become the next speaker of the Texas House of Representatives after announcing support from 109 members and members-elect. At a press conference on November 12th, he thanked his colleagues for their support and turned his focus toward the upcoming session naming school finance as his top priority.
Bonnen represents the 25th House Legislative District, which covers all of Matagorda County and the southern portion of Brazoria County. He was first elected in 1996 and has since served as chairman of Ways & Means, Sunset Advisory, Land and Resource Management, and Environmental Regulation Committees, and three terms as Speaker Pro Tempore.
To officially take the role, Bonnen will need the support of at least 76 members when the House of Representatives votes on the first day of the legislative session on January 8, 2019.
Bill filing now underway; legislative session starts on January 8, 2019.
Earlier this month, the Texas Legislature started pre-filing bills. Hundreds of bills have already been filed, and thousands more are sure to follow. THLA maintains active tracks of bills, and you too can follow what we follow. Stay tuned to this newsletter and the THLA website to get a regularly updated list of active legislation we are watching.