AUSTIN — More than 8.3 million of Texas' 15.8 million registered voters cast ballots in the Nov. 6 general election, as shown in results posted by the secretary of state.
The turnout of almost 53 percent was recognized widely as the highest in nearly 50 years for a Texas election without presidential candidates on the ballot.
U.S. Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke, D-El Paso, garnered national attention in his quest to unseat U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Houston, but Cruz won the race with 4,244,204 votes (50.92 percent) to 4,024,777 (48.29 percent) for O’Rourke.
Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, was re-elected to a second term. He received 4,638,532 million votes, which amounted to 55.83 percent of total votes cast. Democratic challenger Lupe Valdez of Dallas received 3,528,705 million votes or 42.47 percent of the total vote.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican who presides over the Texas Senate, was re-elected to a second term, receiving 4,244,709 million votes, 51.32 percent. Democratic challenger Mike Collier of Houston received 3,841,940 million votes, 46.45 percent.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, was re-elected with 4.2 million votes, 50.6 percent. Democratic challenger Justin Nelson received 3.9 million votes, 46.9 percent.
Incumbents retain posts
In other state agency races, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, Republican, was re-elected over Democrat Joe Chevalier; Land Commissioner George P. Bush, Republican, was re-elected over Democrat Miguel Suazo; Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, Republican, was re-elected over Democrat Kim Olson; and Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick, Republican, was re-elected over Democrat Roman McAllen.
All incumbents won re-election in Texas Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals and State Board of Education races. Winning open seats on the State Board of Education were: Matt Robinson, Republican, over Democrat Elizabeth Markowitz, District 7; Pam Little, Republican, over Democrat Suzanne Smith, District 12; and A. Denise Russell, Republican, over Democrat Aicha Davis, District 13.
Results tweak seat counts
Also in Nov. 6 election results, Democrats picked up 12 seats in the 150-member Texas House of Representatives, so in 2019 Republicans will hold 83 seats and Democrats 67.
Incumbent House members who lost their re-election bids include: Reps. Matt Rinaldi, R-Irving; Paul Workman, R-Austin; Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton; Linda Koop, R-Richardson; Rodney Anderson, R-Grand Prairie; Mike Schofield, R-Houston; Gary Elkins, R-Houston; and Tony Dale, R-Cedar Park.
In the Texas Senate, Democrats picked up two seats as Republicans Konni Burton of Colleyville and Donald Huffines of Dallas lost their races to Beverly Powell and Nathan Johnson, respectively. Republicans currently hold 21 Senate seats and Democrats hold 10, but in 2019 the balance will shift to 20-11 or 21-10 depending on the outcome of a special election to fill the Senate District 6 seat vacated by Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston. Gov. Abbott ordered the special election to be held on Dec. 11. Two state representatives who won re-election on Nov. 6, Democrats Carol Alvarado and Ana Hernandez of Houston, both have expressed their intent to run for the vacated seat.
Field narrows in speaker race
When the 86th Texas Legislature convenes on Jan. 8, House members will elect a new speaker to preside. Current House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, who chose not to seek re-election, is now less than two months from the end of his record five consecutive two-year terms as leader of the House.
State Rep. Walter “Four” Price, R-Amarillo, on Nov. 11 withdrew as a candidate in the race to become the next speaker. State Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, withdrew on Oct. 29.
Declared candidates for the speakership presently include Reps. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton; Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches; Drew Darby, R-San Angelo; Eric Johnson, D-Dallas; Phil King, R-Weatherford; and Tan Parker, R-Flower Mound.
Both Price and Zerwas indicated that they would support Bonnen’s candidacy. Bonnen currently serves as speaker pro tempore of the House.
Dems win U.S. House seats
Now-former Sen. Sylvia Garcia won the race to succeed retiring longtime U.S. Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston, in Congressional District 29. Also winning U.S. House seats were Democrat Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, who defeated longtime incumbent Republican John Culberson of Houston, Congressional District 7; and Democrat Colin Allred, who defeated incumbent Republican Pete Sessions of Dallas, Congressional District 32.
Hegar distributes revenue
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on Nov. 7 announced he would send cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts $817 million in local sales tax allocations for the month of November.
The amount is 5.4 percent more than the local sales tax allocations distributed by the comptroller in November 2017.
Allocations are based on sales made in September by businesses that report tax monthly and sales made in July, August and September by quarterly filers.
Allocations as compared with those from November 2017:
• Cities, $535.8 million, a 5.6 percent increase;
• Transit systems, $173.7 million, a 2.5 percent increase;
• Counties, $50.6 million, a 10.3 percent increase;
• Special purpose taxing districts, $57 million, a 9.4 percent increase.
Ed Sterling is director of member services for the Texas Press Association.