By now, everyone has seen or heard plenty about the March 6 election results. Twice as many Democrats voted than in 2014, the last mid-term election…but that blue wave that was anticipated still produced 500,000 fewer voters than the Republican primary. Except for Tarrant County, Ds won Texas’ biggest cities/metro counties and Rs still reign in the state’s suburban and rural areas. Plus all the other stuff you’ve read about….yada, yada, yada.
Here are some Society-specific numbers and the preliminary analysis of what they mean:
TAC, your profession’s state PAC, gave re-election contributions to 36 candidates, 12 Democrats and 24 Republicans. Of those receiving support from the profession, 30 won, four lost and two will be in a May 22 run-off, so we were successful almost eight out of every nine times, just shy of 90%. Not bad. (The two candidates whose fates still hang in the balance both led with 45-48% of the vote — close but no cigar.) Of those 32 winners/still running, 13 have no opponent in November—meaning he or she will be THE LEGISLATOR next session (2019).
As we read the tea leaves, there are 16 state seats that might be up for grabs in November’s general election, one in the Senate, 15 in the House. Of those, Republicans now hold 12 (11 in the House and the Senate seat), Democrats occupy the other four. Ds think they have a fair-to-middlin’ shot at picking up three, maybe four, of these “swing” seats because voters will face a perceived choice of “business-friendly D” or more socially conservative “Tea Party R.” Just as interesting from the perspective of whether a blue wave actually hits the state or not, will be races in which a “business-friendly R” is taking on a D. (Based on the March 6 numbers, that wave might be purplish at best, not blue; in fact, if I had to make a prediction today, my description would be a “maroon ripple,” but then, hey, I’m color-blind.)
Speaking of Tea Party types, in the current social (movement) vs. business (fiscal) conservative intramural scrum going on inside the Republican Party, both sides claimed victory based on Tuesday’s results. The Freedom Caucus (FC), the “Tea Partiers,” didn’t lose any members, successfully challenged two incumbent House members, and have three run-off candidates who’ve said they’ll join the FC if they win. Going from 12 to 17 House members could have a significant impact on that chamber’s dynamics—but four of those five potential ‘newbies’ are the Democrats’ biggest targets in November, so no one should start their victory lap yet. (In addition, there are six more Republican run-offs with social v. business implications for House leadership adding to the drama and uncertainty. Great fun for all us political junkies, but something with very real potential implications for state government.)
A few other numbers of interest: in addition to the Tea Party’s two incumbent Republican victims, five sitting Democratic reps lost…while Rep. Ron Reynolds of Sugar Land won and has no Republican opponent, he faces potential incarceration during his next term, maybe while the session is underway. Two other House Ds from Houston announced plans to run for a Senate seat when the current office holder is (likely) elected to Congress in November, and at least one San Antonio Rep has announced his intent to run for a soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat in Bexar County (and points west). So, while “change for the sake of change” was not THE motivating factor for most voters this election—not the way it was in 2016—there will be lots of change, on both sides of the aisle, as a result of the recent primary.
Next steps for architects and the profession: Individually, register to vote ASAP if you aren’t already—certainly by April 23 (though before would be much better)—and vote in the May 22 run-off. (If you voted March 6, your only option is to vote again in that same primary; if you didn’t vote March 6, you can choose the party where you want to cast your vote.) For TAC and the Society, we likely will be involved in two races only, House Districts 37 and 54, though it’s possible we could jump into 5-6 more. (There are 15 legislative run-offs, one in the Senate and 14 in the House, equally divided between Ds and Rs. In addition, there is a Democratic run-off for Governor, one State Board of Education contest (D) and 17 Congressional run-offs—11 Ds and 6 Rs.)
Here’s what you really need to remember, however; as the number of voters dramatically drops, which it typically does in a run-off, the more each run-off voter’s voice increases. There aren’t that many Texas architects, but if every one votes—and makes sure that their family, friends and co-workers (including consultants and suppliers) vote, too—we can make a real difference. Who becomes the next Speaker of the Texas House—and the direction the House agenda goes—could very well hang in the balance.
Vote your conscience, but, most importantly…VOTE! Alert: Don’t let Voter Fatigue set in, even though you will have voted in your May 5 local elections. There’s far too much at stake.
Important Eligibility Dates for Primary Run-off:
Last Day to Register — April 23
Last Day to Request Mail Ballot — May 11
Early Voting — May 14-18
Election Day — May 22