Voters filled most of the remaining spots on the general election ballot, but a handful of races remained too close to call.
Four legislative incumbents out of six fell:
- Lorraine Birabil (D-Dallas) lost to Jasmine Crockett, 50.5%-49.5%, after the challenger won Election Day voting, 61%-39%.
- Anna Eastman (D-Houston) lost to Penny Shaw by 200 votes after losing Election Day voting, 54%-46%.
- Dan Flynn (R-Van) lost to Bryan Slaton, 63%-37%, who was making his third bid for the seat; and
- J.D. Sheffield (R-Gatesville) lost to Shelby Slawson, 62%-38%.
Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. (D-Brownsville) and Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) survived their runoff challenges.
Barring a special session, Birabil and Eastman joined former Reps. Dan Barrett (D-Fort Worth), John Lujan (R-San Antonio) and Laura Thompson (I-San Antonio) as special election winners who never cast a vote in the House.
Sheffield’s defeat extended to 11 the losing streak of incumbents who finished second in the primary election dating back to 1992. He faced the largest primary deficit of any of those incumbents.
One other incumbent won the nomination for a promotion. Rep. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio), making his second bid for the seat, won the Democratic nomination to face Sen. Pete Flores (R-Pleasanton) in November. Gutierrez led Xochil Peña Rodriguez, 53%-47%, with an unknown number of absentee ballots left to be counted in Bexar Co.
Another incumbent seeking a promotion, Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin), appeared headed to a runoff, barely, against former Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt (D), who had 49.7% of the vote as of press time. Should Rodriguez not win, he would remain the Democratic nominee for his current seat.
Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) will remain in the state Senate after losing the runoff to M.J. Hegar, who will face U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R) in November. Hegar led West, 52%-48%, with very few precincts/vote centers left to count. Her 4-point lead held for most of the night.
Voters rejected two candidates whose personal/family wealth fueled their campaigns. Kathaleen Wall’s $8.3M in personal spending provided little help in her 70%-30% loss to Fort Bend Co. Sheriff Troy Nehls (R) for open CD22. Wall has spent at least $14.3M in the last two election cycles to receive 27% of the vote in the 2018 primary for CD2, missing the runoff; 19% in this year’s primary and 30% tonight. The Wilks family’s $1.4M investment in Jon Francis, son-in-law to Farris Wilks, also did not pay off. Glenn Rogers, who was endorsed by Gov. Greg Abbott (R), defeated Francis, 51.5%-48.5%.
Empower Texans and their orbit won two more trophies in Flynn and Sheffield’s defeats, although the latter was not particularly connected to the group or its donors. They have unsuccessfully targeted Sheffield in the past.
President Trump’s endorsement appears to have lifted Ronny Jackson to victory over lobbyist Josh Winegarner in open CD13. It remains to be seen whether his endorsement of Tony Gonzales II, or U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s endorsement of Raul Reyes Jr., earns the bragging rights. As the night closed, Gonzales led by 7 votes, which came on the heels of Reyes leading by 3 or 11 votes, depending on which stack of numbers one was following. It was the night’s closest race, and it is not over yet (and it may change by morning). Bexar Co. was still counting mail ballots, and overseas military and civilian ballots, plus cured provisional ballots, remain to be counted.
Other Republican winners of note tonight:
- Cody Vasut defeated Ro’Vin Garrett, 69%-31%, for the seat being vacated by Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton)
- Jacey Jetton defeated Matt Morgan, 52%-48%, for the seat being vacated by Rep. Rick Miller (R-Sugar Land). Morgan got 49.7% of the vote in the March primary.
- Carrie Isaac, wife of former Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs), easily turned away Bud Wymore, 65%-35%, and will face Rep. Erin Zwiener (D-Driftwood) in November.
- Justin Berry defeated Jennifer Fleck, 55%-45%, and will face Rep. Vikki Goodwin (D-Austin) in the general election.
- Former U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Dallas) appears headed back to Congress after defeating Renee Swann, 54%-46^545
Other Democratic winners of note tonight:
- Chrysta Castañeda won the Democratic nomination for Railroad Commissioner, 62%-38%, over former Rep. Roberto Alonzo (D-Dallas).
- Mike Siegel was on the verge of winning the Democratic nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Austin), 54%-46%, awaiting Travis Co.’s final numbers.
- Candace Valenzuela easily dispatched Kim Olson, 60%-40%, to face former Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne (R) in open CD24.
- Donna Imam defeated Christine Mann, 57%-43%, and now faces U.S. Rep. John Carter (R-Round Rock).
- In open HD119, Liz Campos defeated Jennifer Ramos, 56%-44%, for the Democratic nomination for the seat being vacated by Gutierrez.
- In open HD138, Akilah Bacy defeated Jenifer Rene Pool, 79%-21%. She will face Lacey Hull in November.
We’ll discuss turnout later this week and implications for November shortly. Following the next two days’ worth of campaign finance results, we will update our model and adjust rate ratings accordingly.
I’m sure we forgot to mention something important, but it’s almost 2 a.m. We will follow up tomorrow and through the week.
PRES: A new Gravis Marketing poll conducted for One America News Network, President Trump leads presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, 46%-44%. Trump’s job approval rating was 54/45 with 40% strongly approving and 36% strongly disapproving.
We don’t have much detail aside from a statement that “591 Texans” were polled on July 7, and the margin of error is ±4.3%.
Meanwhile, the Biden campaign released a new, one-minute ad, “Tough Texas,” in which he discusses the ongoing coronavirus spread in Texas.
LTGOV: The campaign of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced he raised $2.6M during the first half of 2020 and will report having $15.5M on hand, which is the highest total reported by a sitting lieutenant governor at this point in the election cycle in state history. It is the third highest total ever for a lieutenant governor, eclipsed only by Patrick’s July 2017 ($16.3M) and January 2018 ($18.1M) reports.
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