Republican Gary Gates and Democrats Lorraine Birabil and Anna Eastman cruised to easy victories in today’s special runoff elections for HD28, HD100 and HD148, respectively. The results leave all three seats in the same partisan column as the 2018 general election.

Gary Gates

Rep.-elect Gary Gates

Gates defeated Democrat Eliz Markowitz, 58%-42%, in HD28, a district Democrats targeted as an opportunity to pick up one of the nine seats they need to take control of the House, bringing in money and volunteers from across the country for the effort. In our pre-election analysis, we noted that HD28, while rapidly evolving, was nonetheless just the 14th most likely Republican-held House seat to flip based on our principle metric. Markowitz raised more than $881K for the race, including $154K raised since she filed her 8-day-out campaign finance report. More than half of her overall total came from out-of-state donors.

These figures do not include independent expenditures from outside groups, some of which will not be disclosed until after the election. The Washington, D.C.-based Forward Majority Action Texas PAC has spent $379K supporting Markowitz through January 18, including a six-figure buy for its ad rehashing a 20-year-old, dismissed child abuse complaint against Gates. Markowitz has also received endorsements and appearances from at least five Democratic presidential candidates including former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso).

In the November 5 special election, six Republican candidates combined for 61% of the vote with Markowitz, the lone Democrat in the race, finishing first with 39%. All the resources and high-visibility endorsements did not move the needle significantly, but both parties’ GOTV efforts proved fruitful. Turnout in the Fort Bend Co. district was 20%, and the 30K votes cast in this election is more than in any House special runoff election since at least 1992 and more than in for a 2015 special runoff election in SD26 between then-Rep. Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio) and Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio).

In HD100, Birabil defeated fellow Democrat James Armstrong III, 66%-34%, in a low-turnout election that saw just 2.9% of registered voters go to the polls. The 2,479 votes cast is the lowest for a House special runoff election since August 2016, when 1,225 people voted in the HD120 runoff won by independent Laura Thompson, and the second lowest total votes cast in a House special runoff election since at least 1992. Birabil finished first in the five-way special election with 33% while Armstrong finished second, by 5 votes, with 21% of the vote.

In HD148, Eastman defeated Republican Luis LaRotta, 65%-35%. Just under 8% of registered voters cast ballots in the runoff, a sharp decline from the 25% turnout for the special election, which coincided with Houston’s mayoral and council elections. In the November 5 special elections, 12 Democrats combined to take 69% of the vote while two Republicans and an independent who has previously sought the seat as a Republican claimed the remaining 31%.

Other News

HD74 open: Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC endorsed Eddie Morales for the Democratic nomination to succeed the retiring Rep. Poncho Nevárez (D-Eagle Pass).

Federal Report Deadline: Friday is the deadline for federal officeholders and candidates to file their year-end reports, which disclose contributions received and expenditures made during the fourth quarter of 2019. We expect to have our Crib Sheets fully updated by Saturday.

SEN: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner endorsed Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) for the Democratic nomination to challenge U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R). Meanwhile, M.J. Hegar’s (D) campaign announced she raised $1.1M during the fourth quarter and has $1M on hand.

CD24 open: Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren (D) endorsed Candace Valenzuela for the Democratic nomination to succeed the retiring U.S. Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Carrollton).

PRES: Former Houston Mayor Bill White and former El Paso Mayor John Cook endorsed Mike Bloomberg (D).

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