Case Counts – Thursday, March 3rd (3:55 PM data)
Confirmed Cases – 5,439,516 (2,274 new cases)
Hospitalizations – 3,199 (8,320 available beds, 604 available adult ICU beds)
Fatalities – 83,997 (98 new deaths)
Inside the Numbers
Positivity rate as of Wednesday, March 2nd was 4.82% (down slightly). One month ago, there were 22,700 new cases reported, one week ago there were 4,700 new cases reported, compared to the 2,274 reported yesterday. The 3,199 COVID patients in hospitals now is 1,275 FEWER patients compared to one week ago, and COVID patients make up 5% of total hospital beds in the state.
As of Wednesday, March 2nd, 20.4 million Texans, or 70% of the population have received at least one dose of the vaccine. 17.3 million people in the state are fully vaccinated, which is 59.2% of the state. So far, 6.3 million, or 21.6% of the state have gotten a booster shot. Including booster shots, a total of 42.6 million doses of the vaccine have been administered.
NOTE: Due to the fact that COVID cases and hospitalizations have continued to decline so significantly, and most areas of the state have eliminated severe restrictions (even Austin is down to stage 3), I will not be sending the case counts on a regular basis, but only sparingly. However, if there is another spike, I will resume relaying the numbers on a regular basis.
Turnout Sets Records
Just shy of 3 million people cast a ballot for Tuesday’s primary election. For both primaries, turnout statewide was 17.4% according to the Secretary of State’s office. This percentage is slightly above the 17% that turned out for the 2018 statewide primary elections and the highest turnout percentage since 1994, when 17.6% of registered voters turned out in the primary. That was the first year George W. Bush was on the ballot for Governor in the state.
Republican turnout this year was 11.3% of registered voters. In 207 of the state’s 254 counties, Republican turnout was greater this year compared to 2018. And in 31 counties, mostly in south and west Texas, turnout for Republicans more than doubled. Starr County near Laredo, in the upper Rio Grande Valley, saw the most dramatic increase. In 2018, a total of 15 people voted in the Republican primary. This year, nearly 1,800 people voted in the Republican primary.
On the Democratic side, 1.06 million people voted in the primary, or 6.15% of registered voters. That total was slightly ahead of the 1.04 million that voted in the 2018 Democratic primary. The number of Democratic voters declined in over half of the state’s 254 counties, but increased in 121 counties randomly across the state.
So, while we had record turnout for those that voted, we also saw a record number of people that did not cast a ballot. Nearly 14.2 million of the state’s registered voters did not participate in the primary election, which is by far the largest number of registered voters to not participate in any election in the history of the state. The state has gained nearly 2 million registered voters since the 2018 election, but the increase in participation has not kept up with new voter registration.
Runoffs Still to Come
Even though the ballot was long and exhausting, we are not totally through with the process of each party nominating their candidates for the November elections. Any candidate not reaching 50% in the Tuesday election was forced into a runoff with the 2nd place vote getter.
The race that will receive the most attention is for the Republican nomination for Attorney General, where incumbent Ken Paxton will face Land Commissioner George P. Bush. Bush will look to the supporters of the other two candidates in the race to try and overcome Paxton. Fourth place finisher Congressman Louie Gohmert has already said he will not get involved. Former Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman has not commented yet, but her fundraising prowess – mainly from a tort reform group in Austin – will be an attractive and necessary ally if Bush has any hopes of winning.
Speaking of the Attorney General race, the Democratic primary will go to a runoff as well. Former ACLU attorney Rochelle Garza led the field with 43.1% of the vote, receiving 432,212 votes. Second place has yet to be officially determined. As of now, Galveston attorney Joe Jaworski has tallied 196,463 votes, or 19.6%. Civil rights attorney and activist Lee Merritt trails with 195,045 votes, a difference of 1,418 votes. Merritt thus far has refused to concede, saying he wants to see the final tally from all of the outstanding provisional and mail ballots that have yet to be counted.
The Texas Senate will only have one runoff in the open Senate District 24, where former Senator Pete Flores of Pleasanton – the favorite of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick – will try to hold off Raul Reyes of Castroville.
The Texas House will have 24 runoff contests, mainly in open seats due to members that did not seek reelection. Sixteen of the runoffs are in the Republican primary, while six are on the Democratic side.
The runoff election is May 24th.
Congressman Taylor Admits Affair, Drops Reelection Bid
Congressman Van Taylor, a Republican from Plano serving his second term in the US House, has ended his bid to seek a third term. He made the announcement on Wednesday, the day after he was forced into a runoff against former Collin County Judge Keith Self. Taylor has admitted to an affair with the widow of a recruiter for ISIS, named Tania Joya. Joya’s first husband was a native of Plano, converted to Islam, and became a top recruiter for ISIS. The couple subsequently moved to Syria, where he was killed fighting for ISIS in 2017.
In the days leading up to the primary, an interview with Joya began to surface, where she admitted to having a nine-month long affair with the Congressman. Joya claimed to have met Taylor in Plano, while she was working as an ex-jihadist helping to reprogram extremists. Joya also contacted another one of Taylor’s primary opponents in the hopes of having Taylor resign before the affair became public. Taylor didn’t, the affair was exposed, and he finally admitted to the affair the day after the election. Taylor said he will serve out his term, but drop his bid for reelection. With Taylor bowing out, Self will automatically become the Republican nominee for the seat.
Taylor, an Iraqi war combat veteran, served three terms in the Texas House and one term in the Texas Senate before being elected to Congress in 2018. He was considered one of the most conservative members in all three chambers.
In the closest of close primary races, Democratic incumbent Harold Dutton, a twenty-plus year veteran of the House, has officially won his primary challenge by 136 votes. Dutton was challenged in the primary by Candis Houston, and educator from Houston. Dutton won this urban Houston district, stretching from areas north and east of downtown up to Atascosita, with 4,077 votes, compared to 3,941 for Houston. Even though the race was so close, Houston finally conceded on Thursday.
State Rep. Chris Paddie, a Republican from Carthage, announced his resignation from the state House yesterday effective immediately. Paddie had already announced he would not seek reelection, and he joins Reps. Eddie Lucio, III and Garnet Coleman in resigning this year before their term expires. A special election will occur for his House District 9, that runs along the Louisiana border from Hemphill to just south of Texarkana. This current district 9 was completely eliminated during the redistricting process, so the winner of the special election to fill the remaining 9 months of the current term, will not have the chance to serve in the next regular session beginning in January.
The runoff on the Democratic side for Lt. Governor is between state Rep. Michelle Beckley of Denton and Mike Collier of Houston. Collier was the 2018 nominee and eventually lost to incumbent Dan Patrick by 5 points. Yesterday, Beckley called on Collier to end his campaign and drop out of the race, saying he did not inspire the base of the party. Collier responded by saying that he was the leading vote getter on Tuesday, and that he has no plans to drop out. Collier received 42% of the vote compared to 30% for Beckley.
With the primary election date behind us, both chambers will likely issue their interim studies later this month, as preparations for the next regular session will begin.