Case Counts – Wednesday, February 9th (2:10 PM data)
Confirmed Cases – 5,328,480 (9,272 new cases)
Hospitalizations – 9,317 (7,546 available beds, 443 available adult ICU beds)
Fatalities – 80,005 (294 new deaths)
Inside the Numbers
Positivity rate as of Tuesday, February 8th was 18.41% (down slightly). One month ago, there were 44,900 new cases reported, one week ago there were 16,500 new cases reported, compared to the 9,272 reported yesterday. The 9,317 COVID patients in hospitals now is 2,680 FEWER patients compared to one week ago, and COVID patients make up 14.9% of total hospital beds in the state.
As of Tuesday, February 8th, 20.1 million Texans, or 69.1% of the population have received at least one dose of the vaccine. 17 million people in the state are fully vaccinated, which is 58.5% of the state. So far, 6 million, or 20.7% of the state have gotten a booster shot. Including booster shots, a total of 41.9 million doses of the vaccine have been administered.
Early Voting Starts Monday
According to the latest figures from the Texas Secretary of State, a record 17.1 million Texans are registered to vote. Early voting for this year’s primary election runs from Monday, February 14th through Friday, February 15th. Election day is Tuesday, March 1st. Voters will choose candidates in each primary for district level offices, all the way up to statewide races including Governor, Lt. Governor, Comptroller, Attorney General, Land Commissioner and Agriculture Commissioner. This will be the first election held under the newly drawn political maps for state House, state Senate, and Congressional districts.
In 2018, the last midterm election year when the major statewide offices were up for election, the state had 15.2 million registered voters. In that election, 10% of the registered voters voted in the Republican primary and 7% voted in the Democratic primary. In the November election, 53% of registered voters turned out to vote. This year, turnout for the primary election is expected to be less than 10% for both parties. This compares to 67% of registered voters that turned out in 2020, a Presidential election year, when turnout is always much higher.
Before heading to the polls, you can make sure you are registered by going to the Secretary of State website found here: https://teamrv-mvp.sos.texas.gov/MVP/mvp.do
For info regarding your polling location, what you need to take for ID purposes, assistance at the polls, and more info on early voting, go here: https://www.votetexas.gov/voting/
To find out which district your home is in, click here: https://apps.texastribune.org/features/2021/texas-redistricting-map/
For a breakdown of all candidates in both primaries, click here: https://candidate.texas-election.com/Elections/getCandidatesBallotOrderInfo.do
Republicans Targeting Republicans
A far right organization with a history of targeting incumbent, establishment Republicans has begun a mail campaign focusing on at least a dozen Texas House Republican incumbents. A political action committee named Defend Texas Liberty sent out pieces starting this week that attacks the incumbents for sharing power with Democrats in the House. This is in reference to the long standing tradition in the Texas House that committee chairmanships are shared between the Republicans and Democrats, no matter which party is in power. In January of last year’s regular session, a procedural vote occurred that would have mandated only members of the majority party be allowed to hold committee chairmanships, which is the practice that happens in Congress. The vote failed by a large majority, and a few Democrats were awarded with chairmanships in the Texas House. The members targeted in this mailer all have primary opponents that are running to create a more partisan environment in the Texas House. The timing of the mailings comes as early voting is set to start on Monday.
Harris County Clerk Joins Field for Mayor of Houston
Chris Hollins made headlines as Harris County clerk during the 2020 election cycle when he instituted measures that were intended to make it easier to vote during the peak of the pandemic. Hollins authorized a program that allowed for 24 hour drive through voting and sent mail in ballot applications to all 2 million plus registered voters in Harris County. Both measures were harshly criticized by the state’s Republican leadership and both programs were ultimately outlawed by state lawmakers in the voting related legislation passed last year. Now, Hollins has declared his candidacy for mayor of Houston, joining state Senator John Whitmire as the only other officially declared candidate for the office. Hollins is 35, a native of southwest Houston, and has not held elective office before. He was appointed to his brief tenure as Harris County Clerk last year. Whitmire is dean of the Texas Senate, having first been elected to that body in 1982. Whitmire was also elected to the state House in 1972. The election for mayor of Houston is not until November of 2023, when current mayor Sylvester Turner is forbidden to seek reelection due to term limits. Since the election is nearly two years away, there is speculation that many others are considering a run to join Hollins and Whitmire as candidates. Those include current City Controller Chris Brown, former US Senate candidate Amanda Edwards, state Senator Carol Alvarado, and former state Rep. Sarah Davis.
Salon owner Shelly Luther, who made headlines last year by defying Gov. Abbott’s lockdown orders at the beginning of the pandemic, is running as a Republican for a state House seat in north Texas. She is making headlines again. At a campaign rally on Saturday, Luther said that “transgender children make her uncomfortable”. This comes on the heels of her statement last month against allowing “Chinese Nationals into our colleges where they can obtain classified information, steal technology, and essentially learn how to defeat the United States.” Luther is challenging incumbent Reggie Smith in a district based in the Sherman area of north Texas.
US Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky will attend a rally in Houston this Saturday in support of Don Huffines, one of the main challengers to Gov. Abbott in the Republican primary. Senator Paul is the son of former Republican Congressman Ron Paul, who served in the 80’s and 90’s representing areas south of Houston. Senator Paul has ties to the Houston area, having grown up in nearby Lake Jackson. The endorsement of Huffines by Paul is the most high profile endorsement for the Huffines campaign.
CNBC reported yesterday that several large donor Republicans are pressuring President Trump to rescind his endorsement of Gov. Abbott. The donors, of course, have chosen to remain anonymous for purposes of this story. Trump, at his rally in Conroe last week, reiterated his unconditional endorsement of Abbott. A reversal is unlikely, and is seen as key in Abbott’s quest to win the hotly contested Republican primary.
More polls will be released and more political commercials will be on your local stations between now and the March 1st election day. The last day to apply to vote by mail is February 18th. Early voting starts February 14th and lasts until February 25th.