GOP Sweeps Statewide Seats, But Democrats Snag Some Important Races

Election

Voters lined up at the Oak Lawn library Election Day, with more than 400 people casting ballots by lunchtime (photo by Bethany Erickson)

Frisco, Richardson and Dallas ISD Pass Property Tax Increases

  • Allred bests Sessions in U.S. Rep. District 32 race
  • All four propositions on the ballot for Dallas ISD passed
  • Johnson beats Rinaldi, Johnson beats Luby Ryan
  • Carolyn King Arnold, Keyaira Saunders headed to a runoff

While Democrats came surprisingly (to many) close to winning statewide seats on Election Day, ultimately candidates came just short of besting the Republican party across the board in statewide races. How close were the races, despite the losses? In 16 years, Democratic candidates in statewide races have received 45 percent of the vote only twice — last night, nine of them did.

“Today is not a bad day,” Mike Collier, Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor, said Tuesday night. “We showed Texas that if you campaign on issues that Texans care about, you can have a strong showing in this state.”

But while the “Beto Effect” may not have bestowed a win on its namesake, it was still impacting races, with the El Paso congressman’s get out the vote effort being attributed to down-ballot flips in several congressional, state, and local races.

After record early voting, Election Day polling locations varied from “ghost towns,” as one poll greeter said, to steadily busy. Turnout increased as schools let out, and as people got off work, volunteers said.

Election Day

After a bit of turmoil during early voting, the Lakeside Activity Center in Mesquite was actually calm and congenial Election Day.

Measures for 13-cent Tax Ratification Elections passed in both Richardson ISD and Dallas ISD. Frisco ISD voters approved a 13-cent tax swap that will move 13 cents from the debt service column to the maintenance and operations column.  

Frisco voters also approved a $691 million bond measure to build new campuses and renovate old ones. Voters also approved three other propositions for Dallas ISD that will allow the district to purchase more school buses and a bus barn,  buy attendance credits to address it’s recapture tab it will need to pay the state, and to allow the district to refinance another $75 million that was borrowed during the 2015 Bridge plan (which funded things like the renovation of Lakewood Elementary), where money was set aside to finance school projects in between the 2008 and 2015 bond elections. Those funds will now move to maintenance and operations to fund various projects.

The Dallas ISD TRE will go to fund teacher and staff raises, pre-k expansion, racial equity initiatives and school choice expansion.

Thirteen people were vying for the Dallas City Council seat vacated by the convicted Dwaine Caraway, and none of them got more than 50 percent of the vote. Carolyn King Arnold (who got 25.74 percent of the vote), who lost the seat to Caraway a year ago, will face Keyaira Saunders (17.19 percent) in a Dec. 11 runoff election.

And while statewide races may not have been as successful for Democrats, state legislative seats were another story. Democrats picked up 11 seats (so far) in the Texas House, and while it is still the minority party, the increased numbers will make the vote for Texas House speaker a little more interesting.

Dallas County Democrat Julie Johnson unseated incumbent Matt Rinaldi in House District 115, and Democrat John Turner beat Republican Lisa Luby Ryan in District 114. Several other house seats looked ripe for the taking, but with less than half the precincts in for those very close races, stay tuned for final results later today.

In the state senate, Democrats gained two seats after Konni Burton and Don Huffines lost their seats, but the GOP will still have a 19-seat advantage.

We’re also watching the State Board of Education race between Suzanne Smith and Pam Little, where a little more than half the precincts had been counted at 1:30 a.m., and Little maintained a slight lead for the District 12 seat. Republican incumbent Pat Hardy retained her seat for District 11, and Democrat Aicha Davis handily won her District 13 seat.

In U.S. House races, Democrat Collin Allred’s win over GOP incumbent Pete Sessions, along with Lizzie Pannill Fletcher’s win over incumbent John Culberson in Houston, turned two GOP seats to Democrat control, and contributed to the Democrats taking over majority in the U.S. House — and also will likely lead to U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, who also won her seat, being tapped as chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

Election Day

Jan McDowell (photo courtesy Tom Erickson)

Kenny Marchant, GOP incumbent for U.S. House District 24, won by about 5 points over challenger Jan McDowell, who acknowledged to supporters Tuesday night that Marchant’s war chest was formidable.

“I want to say thank you to everyone here — it seems like people came out of thin air to help us all the way through,” she told those gathered at a watch party at Savannah’s Kitchen. “Kenny Marchant has about $2 million for this and I have about $100,000, which isn’t a lot for a congressional race. That shows you what a challenge this was.”

At the time, McDowell hadn’t quite conceded, but she did acknowledge that “it doesn’t look good.”

“Kenny Marchant has this R next to his name on the ballot and money and that seems to be what he’s running on,” she added. “He doesn’t have a lot of campaign volunteers or poll greeters. He wins on gerrymandering. He drew his own district as a member of the state legislature.”

She concluded by saying she hopes that the state legislature will take a real look at the district boundaries after the 2020 Census.

We’ll have more reaction, as well as final vote counts, later today.

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