Texas saw historic turnout in two weeks of early voting, and election day was no less impressive. In the headline race, Ted Cruz held onto his Senate seat, earning 50.89% of the vote to defeat Democrat Beto O’Rourke. Though Republicans held that seat and every other statewide elected office, Democrats rode enthusiasm behind the Senate race to several important victories in Congress and in the state legislature.
Nationally, Democrats took control of the House of Representatives after flipping a number Republican-held seats, including two in Texas. Dallas-area Republican Pete Sessions, an 11-term incumbent, was unseated by Democrat Collin Allred. In Harris County, Democrat Lizzie Fletcher defeated Rep. John Culberson. Both districts had once been solidly Republican, but voted narrowly for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Republicans maintained their two-decade stronghold on statewide office in Texas, though some races were closer than expected. Greg Abbott handily defeated Democrat Lupe Valdez for a second term as Governor, earning 55.8% of the vote. Further down the ballot, Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick, and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller all held their seats while all open statewide judicial seats also went Republican.
Results were more uneven in the state legislature. In the Senate, two Dallas-area Republican incumbents, Don Huffines and Konni Burton, were defeated by Democratic challengers Nathan Burton and Beverly Powell, respectively. Still, Republicans will retain their Senate 60% majority to work around the blocker bill thanks to freshman senator Pete Flores, who won a formerly Democratically-held seat in a special election earlier this year.
In the House, 12 Republicans seats will be replaced by Democrats: Democrat John Bucy defeated Tony Dale in HD-136; Ana-Maria Ramos defeated Linda Koop in HD-102; Thresa Meza defeated Rodney Anderson in HD-105; Julie Johnson defeated Matt Rinaldi in TX-115; Vikki Goodwin defeated Paul Workman in HD-47; Jon Rosenthal defeated Gary Elkins in HD-135; Michelle Beckley defeated Ron Simmons in HD-65, Gina Calanni defeated Mike Schofield in HD 132. Other Democrats won open seats that were last held by a Republican: Erin Zwiener in HD-45, formerly held by Jason Isaac; James Talarico in HD-52, formerly held by Larry Gonzales; Rhetta Andrews Bowers in HD-113, formerly held by Cindy Burkett; and John Turner in HD-114, formerly held by Jason Villalba. Republicans’ majority went from a 95-55 advantage to 83-67. The Texas House will have 29 new members, from retirements, primary loses and seats flipped yesterday evening. With a few races won within a few votes expect one or two recounts.
The Democrats swept a majority of the Court of Appeals. Longstanding, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett lost to Democrat Linda Hidalgo as well as County Commissioner, Precinct Jack Morman was defeated by former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia.
With the Midterm votes counted there are several important dates to keep in mind in the near future. Five days from now, Legislators and Legislators-elect may file bills for the 86th Legislature. After the holidays, the 86th Texas Legislature will convene on January 8, 2019.