With the 2018 elections behind us, we can now begin to assess what we should learn from the results. Although Beto O’Rourke was not successful in knocking off Sen. Ted Cruz, the excitement created by his candidacy, along with straight party voting by Democrats, brought some unexpected results. Cruz’s narrow victory (50.9% – 48.3%) was not certain until late in the evening, and as they say in politics, coattails can be very long and decisive, given the right circumstances. The “Beto effect” created the coattails and the circumstances were there for a significant shift in Texas’ political makeup.
Results of the statewide races were as expected but the outcome was much closer than previous elections in the red state of Texas: Governor Abbott won by fourteen points; Lt. Governor Patrick won by five points; Attorney General Paxton won by four points; Comptroller Hegar won by ten points; Land Commissioner Bush won by nine points; Agriculture Commissioner Miller won by six points, and Railroad Commissioner Craddick won by nine points.
The evening began with Republicans holding a significant advantage in the Texas House: 95 R’s to 55 D’s. With the results of the election completed, the Republicans lost 12 seats to the Democrats moving the advantage to 83 R’s to 67 D’s. Most significant Republican losses included incumbent losses in eight races and Democratic wins in four open seats.
It is not surprising that the results of the loss of Republican seats came in three urban areas: four in the Austin area, six in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, and two in the Houston area.
As in the House, the evening began with the Republicans holding a significant advantage in the Texas Senate. While there were two incumbent losses, the Senate will remain strongly controlled by a conservative majority under the leadership of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.
Incumbent Senators Don Huffines from Dallas and Konni Burton from Ft. Worth were both defeated by their Democrat challengers. Senator Sylvia Garcia will be leaving the Senate as well, being elected Tuesday night to Congress. It is all but certain the seat will remain in the hands of the Democrats, so expect the Senate to begin the session at 19 R’s and 12 D’s – the slimmest of margins for guaranteed sixty percent needed to move legislation without bi-partisan support.
Texas Judicial Races
There were mixed results in the judicial races that IIAT was interested in this year. All three Republican justices of the Texas Supreme court were reelected, which was positive news. In a surprising turnaround from previous years, every Republican candidate for Appellate Court Judges was defeated by the Democratic challenger. Appellate courts had been controlled by Republicans up until last night. Now the shift in power to the Democrats could be a major change in judicial philosophy in Texas.
Much like in Texas, the outcome of the federal races was not unexpected. There were some positives from the evening; Republicans increased their majority in the US Senate; as well as some negatives; the Democrats taking control of the U.S. House.
Texas had six or eight hotly contested Congressional races and the Republicans retained all except two. Powerful Congressman Pete Sessions of Dallas was defeated as well as long-time Congressman John Culberson of Houston. As stated, Sen. Ted Cruz defeated a major challenge by Beto O’Rourke to retain the Senate seat.
Nationally there are a number of undecided races in both the House and Senate, but here is what we know at this time:
- Senate results: 52 Republicans; 43 Democrats; 2 Independents; 2 too close to call; and 1 runoff.
- House results: 221 Democrats; 195 Republicans; 19 undecided.
IIAT’s Governmental Affairs team looks forward to meeting and getting to know the newcomers and also continuing our relationships with friends who will be returning. We will continue to promote our members interests in the upcoming legislative session and will do all we can to protect the Independent Agency system in Texas.