From our Media Partners at the Texas Tribune:
- Greg Abbott sailed to re-election with a double-digit margin, easily besting his Democratic challenger, former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, with 56 percent of the vote to her 43. But lower on the ballot, Texas Republican incumbents won with much narrower mandates than they carried in years past.
- In 2014, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was elected with a double-digit margin of victory; this year, he won by just 5 points. The margins were similar for Attorney General Ken Paxton, who bested challenger Justin Nelson by 4 percent. Nelson consistently attacked Paxton, who has served the bulk of his first term under indictment for securities fraud — and that line of attack seemed to have seen some limited success.
- Other Republicans, including Comptroller Glenn Hegar, Land Commissioner George P. Bush, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick, handily kept their seats. And Republicans continue to hold all 18 seats on the state’s two highest courts, the Texas Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals.
- Republicans maintained their dominant majority in the Legislature… but Democrats made serious headway, especially in the Dallas area.
- Democrats picked up 12 seats in the Texas House, moving the lopsided 95-55 split to 83-67.
- In the Texas Senate, incumbents Don Huffines and Konni Burton were unseated by Democratic challengers. But the GOP still holds 19 seats in the upper chamber — enough to bring legislation to the floor without any support from Democrats, and more than enough to pass it.
What this means to TLDA
While Republicans by and large held their line on statewide and legislative offices, the margins were small. Two Senate Republicans were unseated, while 12 in the House went to Democrats. One major takeaway is that Austin is not the only blueberry in the tomato soup that is Texas – our fellow metropolitan areas are swinging toward the blue as well. The lines between R and D are shifting to a divide between urban and rural that has been brewing for some time.
Moving forward, our plan of action is to maintain the status quo. Until House Committees are assigned and chairs are appointed, we cannot fully know who our targeted key players are. With the Speaker’s seat in play, the House is currently without leadership. None of this will be finalized until February, when we will need to make up for lost time. We will plan to support senior members of the legislature because they are proven leaders and usually play a role in the Speaker’s committee selections. There are currently 5 contenders for the Speaker’s race, with more expected to announce, so the field is truly wide open.