The biggest headline from last night’s election results is that the state of Texas is still a very long way from turning blue. At the beginning of every two-year election cycle, the Democrats claim – because of demographic changes and the influx of new residents from other states – that this is the year they are going to make gains and start turning Texas blue. But the same results occur every year. Every year since 1996, Republicans once again swept all statewide office. Republicans also made slight gains in both Houses of the Legislature and will now feel that they have a mandate to aggressively push some of the more controversial issues they began to debate last session. Some passed, some did not, and some issues can be revisited.
These results will also cause a serious debate among Texas House Republicans regarding whether or not to have Democrats in any positions of leadership in the House. The far-right members want to completely cut out the Democrats – which is done in Washington DC. But the incumbent Speaker – considered a moderate and elected two years ago with substantial support from the Democratic caucus – insists for now that Democrats should and will receive coveted chairmanships of standing committees. Much more to come on this as we move to the beginning of the session.
For now, all that members will be interested in is raising money. After they depleted their accounts during the campaigns, they will want to replenish their accounts. Members have until December 10th to receive contributions (state law prohibits members from accepting contributions 30 days before and during the regular legislative session). We can count on most if not all of the 181 members of the Legislature and all statewide officials to aggressively raise money for the next 31 days.
When all votes are counted, the Secretary of State is estimating that between 7.5 and 8 million people will have cast a vote. This is well below the initial estimates by the Secretary of State of 9.5 to 10 million votes. Now for the results:
Republican swept all statewide races. With over 90% of the votes counted, here are the results from the major offices:
Abbott – 55%
O’Rourke – 43%
With the third straight loss for O’Rourke, many are speculating that O’Rourke’s political career is over. He underperformed significantly compared to his 2018 statewide challenge to Ted Cruz when he came withing 2 ½ points of the incumbent US Senator.
Patrick (R, incumbent) – 54%
Collier – 43%
In this rematch from 2018 when Collier came within 5 points of Patrick, Collier also underperformed and was soundly defeated.
Paxton (R, incumbent) – 54%
Garza – 43%
Democrats saw this race as their best chance to win a statewide race due to Paxton’s legal and ethical troubles. But Garza proved to be a very weak candidate and never made much of a challenge to Paxton.
The rest of the statewide ticket – Comptroller, Agriculture Commissioner, Land Commissioner – also all saw comfortable wins for the Republicans.
In the Texas House, Redistricting took away most competitive districts, and lawmakers drew districts designed to maintain and increase their Republican majority. But, there were a few competitive races and in the end Republicans were able to pick up 3 seats, and now enjoy an 86-64 partisan majority in the 150-member House.
HD 37 – Republican Janie Lopez won this newly created seat in the Valley by 4 points over Luis Villareal.
HD 52 – Republican Caroline Harris won this seat that was drawn to elect a Republican in Williamson County, a county O’Rourke carried by a slim margin.
HD 65 – Republican Kronda Thimesh was able to flip this Denton County seat that was previously held by Rep. Michelle who was defeated in the Democratic primary for Lt. Governor.
HD 70 – Democrat Miheala Plesa defeated Republican Jamee Jolly in this Collin County seat that is considered a true swing district.
HD 118 – Republican John Lujan – who won this seat in a special election last summer – was able to hold this urban San Antonio seat in Republican hands
All other House incumbents won comfortably.
The Texas Senate only had one competitive seat. In the Rio Grande Valley, Democrat Morgan LaMantia narrowly defeated Republican Adam Hinojosa by a little more than 500 votes. This race will assuredly go to a recount. For now, the Republicans enjoy a 19-12 partisan majority in the 31-member Senate.
National Republicans had their eyes on three South Texas congressional seats but only claimed one. In CD15 open, Monica De la Cruz-Hernandez defeated Michelle Vallejo, 54%-46%. Democrats took back CD34 as U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) defeated U.S. Rep. Mayra Flores (R-Los Indios), 54%-46%, undoing a special election earlier this year. U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) turned away Cassy Garcia, 55%-45%. The Texas congressional delegation will have 25 Republicans and 13 Democrats. Neither Republican U.S. senator was on the ballot this year.
One more, in the hotly contested race for Harris County Judge, incumbent Democrat Lina Hidalgo holds a slim lead of 50.8% to 49.2% over Republican Alex del Moral Mealer. A margin of 14,603 votes with about 77% of the votes counted. In will later in the day if not tomorrow before we have a definitive result in that race.