It could’ve been worse. Or better, depending on one’s perspective.
Republicans swept statewide offices for the 13th consecutive election cycle, and they already had built-in majorities in both legislative chambers. But it wasn’t a red wave as much as it was a regression to the mean.
As of 1:30 a.m. CST, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) leads former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso), 56%-43%. O’Rourke underperformed his 2018 campaign in each of the 15 counties with the most registered voters, leaving him to make up the difference in counties that weren’t favorable to him to begin with.
The top three Democrats on the ballot – O’Rourke, Mike Collier and Rochelle Garza – are within three tenths of a percentage point of each other. The rest of the statewide slate were between 40% and 42% of the vote. The spread between the top performer, O’Rourke, and the statewide Democrat with the lowest percentage, Luke Warford, stands at 3.1 percentage points, suggesting a very high rate of straight-party voting.
Redistricting largely took competitive seats off the map and instead locked in stable Republican majorities and solid Democratic blocs in each legislative chamber.
Republicans picked up a Senate seat – a foregone conclusion after Sen. Beverly Powell (D-Burleson) dropped her re-election bid – and came within 570 votes of a second one. Morgan LaMantia (D) defeated Adam Hinojosa (R), 50.2%-49.8%, in a race that will almost certainly go to a recount. Republicans will hold a 19-12 advantage in January.
In the House, Republicans gained three seats but failed to capitalize on several opportunities to claim some winnable suburban and South Texas seats:
- HD37, which is held by Rep. Alex Dominguez (D-Brownsville), was won by Republican Janie Lopez, 52%-48%. Dominguez unsuccessfully sought a Senate seat.
- HD52, which is held by Rep. James Talarico (D-Round Rock), was won by Republican Caroline Harris, 56%-44% (2 boxes were still out at press time). Talarico won in nearby HD50.
- HD65, which is held by Rep. Michelle Beckley (D-Carrollton), was won by Republican Kronda Thimesch, 60%-40%. Beckley unsuccessfully ran for statewide office.
Democrats captured two Republican-held seats:
- HD70, which is held by Rep. Scott Sanford (R-McKinney), was narrowly won by Democrat Mihaela Plesa, 50.7%-49.3%, over Jamee Jolly (R). Sanford did not seek re-election.
- HD92, which is held by Rep. Jeff Cason (R-Bedford), was won as expected by Salman Bhojani (D), 58%-42%. Cason did not seek re-election.
Republicans will enter the session with an 86-64 advantage.
We won’t know until we run the numbers, but the reddening of South Texas may have stalled. Reps. Bobby Guerra (D-Mission), Abel Herrero (D-Corpus Christi), Oscar Longoria (D-Mission), Mando Martinez (D-Weslaco), Eddie Morales Jr. (D-Eagle Pass) and Richard Raymond (R-Laredo) all won comfortably.
In the other competitive district, Rep. John Lujan (R-San Antonio), twice the winner of a special election for HD118, won a full term, 52%-48%, over his most recent special election rival, Frank Ramirez.
National Republicans had their eyes on three South Texas congressional seats but only claimed one. In CD15 open, Monica De la Cruz-Hernandez defeated Michelle Vallejo, 54%-46%. Democrats took back CD34 as U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) defeated U.S. Rep. Mayra Flores (R-Los Indios), 54%-46%, undoing a special election earlier this year. U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) turned away Cassy Garcia, 55%-45%. The Texas congressional delegation will have 25 Republicans and 13 Democrats. Neither Republican U.S. senator was on the ballot this year.
We didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to county and local races tonight, but a couple races caught our eye:
- In Harris Co., County Judge Lina Hidalgo (D) holds a narrow lead over Alexandra del Moral Mealer (R), 50.8%-49.2%, as of press time.
- In Nueces Co., County Judge Barbara Canales lost to former Rep. Connie Scott (R-Corpus Christi), 56%-44%.
- In Austin, Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin) and former Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin), himself a former mayor, are headed to a mayoral runoff. Israel finished first with 40.5% of the vote. Watson receive 35% of the vote.
- In El Paso, Rep. Art Fierro (D-El Paso) advanced to a runoff against incumbent council member Claudia Lizette Rodriguez for the D6 seat.
We’ll take a look at more local results in the coming days.
As for turnout, the Secretary of State was reporting 7.2M voters as of press time, but the number should go up as counties finished their counts. We’ll explore turnout in more detail in the coming days.
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