Texas Political News

On Tuesday, November 5th, Texas voters decided on 10 proposed amendments to the state Constitution while voters in three State House districts sent their special elections to runoffs. In Houston, a runoff election appears likely between Mayor Sylvester Turner and challenger Tony Buzbee.

Voters Approve 9 of 10 Constitutional Amendments. Voters on Tuesday approved nearly all of the proposed Constitutional Amendments, which addressed issues ranging from school funding to wastewater infrastructure. The only amendment not approved was Proposition 1, “permitting a person to hold more than one office as a municipal judge at the same time.” The amendment would have allowed elected or appointed municipal judges to hold more than one office in different municipalities simultaneously. A full list of the approved amendments is below, including preliminary vote percentages.

  • Proposition 2 (SJR 79) – 64% YES: Providing for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board to provide financial assistance for the development of certain projects in economically distressed areas. – 64% YES
  • Proposition 3 (HJR 34) – 85% YES: Authorizing the legislature to provide for a temporary exemption from ad valorem taxation of a portion of the appraised value of certain property damaged by a disaster.
  • Proposition 4 (HJR 38) – 76% YES: Prohibiting the imposition of an individual income tax, including a tax on an individual’s share of partnership and unincorporated association income.
  • Proposition 5 (SJR 24) – 88% YES: Dedicating the revenue from the sales and use taxes that on sporting goods to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission to protect Texas’ natural areas, water quality, and history by acquiring, managing, and improving state and local parks and historic sites while not increasing the rate of the state sales and use taxes.
  • Proposition 6 (HJR 12) – 63% YES: Authorizes the legislature to increase by $3 billion the maximum bond amount authorized for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.
  • Proposition 7 (HJR 151) – 73% YES: Allowing increased distributions to the available school fund.
  • Proposition 8 (HJR 4) –76% YES: Providing for the creation of the flood infrastructure fund to assist in the financing of drainage, flood mitigation, and flood control projects.
  • Proposition 9 (HJR 95) – 53% YES: Authorizing the legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation precious metal held in a precious metal depository located in this state.
  • Proposition 10 (SJR 32) – 94% YES: The constitutional amendment to allow the transfer of a law enforcement animal to a qualified caretaker in certain circumstances. 

Runoffs in Special Elections. Voters also cast ballots in three special elections to fill vacancies in the Texas House:

Democrat and Republican Advance to Runoff in HD-28: The most closely-watched special election was held in the Houston-area district vacated by Republican state Rep. John Zerwas, who won re-election in 2016 by 8 percentage points, giving Democrats hope to flip the district. Of the seven Republicans and one Democrat in the race, Democrat Eliz Markowitz, a teacher from Katy, finished first with 39.1% of the vote, while Republican Gary Gates, a business owner from Rosenberg, finished second with 28.5%. 60.9% of the total votes were cast for one of the GOP candidates. Because neither candidate hit the 50% threshold, the race will be headed to a runoff at the end of January or beginning of February.

Close Election Results in Runoff for HD-100: Voters also cast ballots in a special election for HD-100, the seat vacated by former Representative and now-Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson. Lorraine Birabil, a lawyer and longtime community activist, and Democrat James Armstrong, chief executive of Builders of Hope Community Development Corporation, will advance to a runoff election. Birabil finished the race with 32% of the vote, but did not meet the 50% threshold required to win outright. Armstrong beat out Democrat Daniel Davis Clayton to advance to the runoff by just five votes. They both had just over 20% of district voters’ support, while Democrat Sandra Crenshaw finished close behind with 19% of the vote.

Democrat and Republican Advance to Runoff in HD-148: Democrat Anna Eastman and Republican Luis La Rotta will advance to a runoff election for Houston-Area HD-148, vacated by former Rep. Jessica Farrar (D-Houston). Eastman, a member of the Houston ISD Board, won 18.5% of the vote while La Rotta, a small business owner and Navy veteran, won 17.19%. The remainder of the vote was split among a large field of 13 other candidates.

Runoff Likely in Houston Mayor Race. The race for Houston mayor will likely head to a run-off between incumbent Mayor and former State Representative Sylvester Turner and challenger Tony Buzbee. As of this morning, with 867 of 976 precinct reporting, Turner totaled 46 percent of the ballots, less than the 50-percent threshold required to win outright. Buzbee garnered 28 percent of the ballots, with the remainder of the vote split between 10 other candidates. If necessary, Turner will face Buzbee in the runoff election set for Dec. 14.