Case Counts/Testing in Texas — Monday, December 13th (12:00 PM data)
Confirmed Cases – 3,629,844 (3,607 new cases)
Hospitalizations – 3,110 (8,928 available beds, 638 available adult ICU beds)
Fatalities – 73,409 (9 new deaths)
Vaccine Data – Monday, December 13th (12:00 PM data)
Total doses administered – 34,490,327
People vaccinated – 18,908,890
People fully vaccinated – 16,296,638
Doses Shipped by state – 28,348,590
Inside the Numbers
Positivity rate as of Monday, December 13th was 9.25%. One month ago, there were 3,000 new cases reported, one week ago there were 2,900 new cases reported, compared to the 3,607 reported yesterday. The 3,110 COVID patients in hospitals now is 178 more patients compared to one week ago, and COVID patients make up 5% of total hospital beds in the state.
Over the last week, an average of 46,343 doses have been administered each day in the state. As of Monday, December 13th 55.9% of Texans have been fully vaccinated.
Filing Deadline Yesterday
Candidates for the 2022 elections must have filed by 6PM yesterday to be on the ballot for the 2022 elections. Because of redistricting, all members of Congress, the Texas House and Senate have to run next year. In addition, all major statewide offices – Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller, Land Commissioner, and Agriculture Commissioner – are all up for election as well. I have attached a complete list of all those that have filed. County parties have until December 21st to certify the filed candidates, so the attached list may have some unintentional omissions. The primary election is scheduled for March 1st, and the general election will be November 8th.
Notes on the Filings
Gov. Abbott drew 6 primary opponents. There are several Democrats vying for their party’s nomination, but the likely fall contest will be between incumbent Abbott and Beto O’Rourke.
One interesting story making the rounds in Austin yesterday was the Rick Perry had filed for Governor. As it turns out, Rick Perry did file in the Republican primary for Governor, it’s just not the same Rick Perry that served as Texas Governor from 2000-2014. This Rick Perry is a technician for Lockheed Martin from Springtown, near Fort Worth. Perry is a conservative activist in Parker County, and is being advised by a local Austin attorney that serves as general counsel to the far right organization Empower Texans. This group is often at odds with Gov. Abbott and have often questioned his conservative credentials.
ABC news analyst and former Bush Presidential advisor Matthew Dowd has ended his bid for Lt. Governor, and did not file for the race. Dowd has never lived in Texas, only owns some property in Wimberly, which he attempted to use for his base during his short lived campaign. Dowd had initially announced that he would challenge incumbent Dan Patrick as a Democrat, but had very little success getting any momentum for his campaign.
Incumbent Attorney General Ken Paxton, facing numerous legal and ethical issues, has drawn three high profile opponents in the Republican primary. Former state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, Congressman Louie Gohmert, and Land Commissioner George P. Bush are all trying to unseat Paxton. Look for Bush – with his family name and statewide infrastructure in place – to give Paxton the most serious challenge.
The other serious battle among the statewide officials is for Agriculture Commissioner where incumbent Sid Miller faces a primary challenge from state Rep. James White of Hillister. White is a 10 year veteran of the House and is well received in conservative circles throughout the state.
In the state Senate, the only seriously contested races will be in the 5 open seats due to retirements. All of the incumbents that sought reelection should have an easy path to victory. In the House, roughly a quarter of incumbents will have serious primary challenges, while about 40% of incumbents did not draw an opponent from either party.
Secretary of State Sends List of Demands
Speaking of elections, due to the increased pressure by Republicans to audit the 2022 election, the Texas Secretary of State sent out on Friday a list of demands to four county elections officials asking them to provide a full accounting of procedures regarding mail in voting and provisional ballots, as well as a list of any complaints from voters their offices received regarding the 2020 presidential election. The letter was sent to elections administrators in Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, and Collin Counties. The Secretary of State says that this procedure is an ongoing process to audit the 2020 election to ensure that ballots are being properly processed in accordance with state and federal law. There are continued claims of voter fraud during the 2020 election, particularly in the race for President, and proponents of this move say it is necessary to ensure that county officials are complying with the law, and will have increased oversight from the state moving forward. Opponents criticize this exercise as unnecessary during a time when county election officials should be preparing for the upcoming primary elections in March, and point to no legitimate claims of fraud arising from last year’s Presidential election. President Trump won the state of Texas by 5.5 percentage points.
Supreme Court Ruling on Abortion
On Friday, the US Supreme Court made an initial ruling on the state’s controversial new abortion law, ruling that abortion providers can continue their legal challenges to the law, but allowing the law to stay in effect for now. The new law, passed during the regular session this year, allows private citizens to sue anyone who undergoes, provides, or aids the process of an abortion past the six week period of gestation. At issue is the enforcement mechanism with the new law, since the state is not responsible for enforcement of the new law. In this initial ruling, the court did not rule on the constitutionality of the new law, instead focused this ruling on the legal challenges brought by abortion providers, allowing challenges to state licensing officials to move forward. Therefore, the legal challenges will now progress in federal district court, with the case almost certainly headed back to the Supreme Court following the trial and appeals processes.
One note of interest regarding this case. The Texas abortion law is unique in that it does not call on the state for enforcement, rather it allows private citizens to sue as an enforcement mechanism. California Governor Gavin Newsom has already indicated that he will use this same model in the area of gun control in his state. Newsom announced over the weekend that he is preparing a bill to be introduced early next year that will allow private citizens in California to sue anyone (or company) that manufactures, sells, or distributes assault weapons. Officials in other states have already indicated they will follow suit with Newsom’s idea for gun control and possibly other areas of concern.
Regulators Say Electric Grid is Prepared for Winter
On Friday, state regulators issued a report saying that most of the companies operating electric generating facilities have complied with the needed changes to protect their infrastructure from extreme cold. The Electric Reliability Council or Texas (ERCOT) says that 70% of the companies are ready for the winter temperatures and the winter weather that comes with the falling temperatures, and the grid is therefore more resilient than it was last year.
It is important to note that this report only applies to electric generation companies, and not natural gas, which fuels a vast majority of Texas homes and business during the winter months. The Railroad Commission — comprised of three statewide elected officials — regulates the state oil and gas industry, and has not crafted a weatherization plan that creates standards for oil and gas companies to comply with for winterization. During the session, lawmakers gave this industry until the spring of 2022 to create the new winterization rules regarding oil and gas infrastructure. In the meantime, Railroad Commission officials say the agency will focus on ensuring the electric generation facilities have the ability to keep the power flowing to gas production facilities during extreme weather periods.
Now with the races set, we will keep you all updated on any relevant happenings from the campaign trail, as well as the news from the Capitol.