Election results reveal larger than usual turnout
More than 8.3 mil of Texas' 15.8 mil registered voters cast ballots in the Nov. 6 general election.
The turnout of almost 53 % was recognized widely as the highest in nearly 50 years for a Texas election without presidential candidates.
U.S. Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke, D-El Paso, garnered national attention in his quest to unseat U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Houston, but Cruz won the race with 4,244,204 votes (50.92 %) to O’Rourke’s 4,024,777 (48.29 %).
Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, was re-elected to a second term. He received 4,638,532 votes, (55.83 %). Democratic challenger Lupe Valdez of Dallas received 3,528,705 votes (42.47 %).
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican who presides over the Texas Senate, was re-elected to a second term, receiving 4,244,709 votes (51.32 %). Democratic challenger Mike Collier of Houston received 3,841,940 votes (46.45 %).
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, was re-elected with 4.2 mil votes (50.6 %). Democratic challenger Justin Nelson received 3.9 mil votes, (46.9 %).
Incumbents retain posts
In other state agency races, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, Rep, was re-elected over Dem Joe Chevalier; Land Commissioner George P. Bush, Rep, was re-elected over Dem Miguel Suazo; Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, Rep, was re-elected over Dem Kim Olson; and Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick, Rep, was re-elected over Dem Roman McAllen.
All incumbents won re-election in Texas Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals and State Board of Education races. Winning open seats on the State Board of Education were: Matt Robinson, Rep, over Dem Elizabeth Markowitz, District 7; Pam Little, Rep, over Dem Suzanne Smith, Dist 12; and A. Denise Russell, Rep, over Dem Aicha Davis, Dist 13.
Results tweak seat counts
Also in Nov. 6 election results, Democrats picked up 12 seats in the 150-member Texas House of Representatives, so in 2019 Republicans will hold 83 seats and Democrats 67.
Incumbent House members who lost their re-election bids include: Reps. Matt Rinaldi, R-Irving; Paul Workman, R-Austin; Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton; Linda Koop, R-Richardson; Rodney Anderson, R-Grand Prairie; Mike Schofield, R-Houston; Gary Elkins, R-Houston; and Tony Dale, R-Cedar Park.
In the Texas Senate, Dems picked up two seats as Reps Konni Burton of Colleyville and Donald Huffines of Dallas lost their races to Beverly Powell and Nathan Johnson, respectively. Reps currently hold 21 Senate seats and Dems hold 10, but in 2019 the balance will shift to 20-11 or 21-10 depending on the outcome of a special election to fill the Senate Dist 6 seat vacated by Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston. Gov. Abbott ordered the special election to be held on Dec. 11. Two state representatives who won re-election on Nov. 6, Dems Carol Alvarado and Ana Hernandez of Houston, both have expressed their intent to run for the vacated seat.
Field narrows in speaker race
When the 86th Texas Legislature convenes on Jan. 8, House members will elect a new speaker to preside. Current House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, who chose not to seek re-election, is now less than two months from the end of his record five consecutive two-year terms as leader of the House.
State Rep. Walter “Four” Price, R-Amarillo, on Nov. 11 withdrew as a candidate in the race to become the next speaker. State Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, withdrew on Oct. 29.
Declared candidates for the speakership presently include Reps. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton; Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches; Drew Darby, R-San Angelo; Eric Johnson, D-Dallas; Phil King, R-Weatherford; and Tan Parker, R-Flower Mound.