Last week's winners in the three Texas House special elections are guaranteed seats in the Legislature for the remainder of its 86th term. However, the victorious candidates will need to win again in the March primaries to advance to the November, 2020 election in order to hold those seats for the 2021 Session.
There were few surprises in the Jan. 28 elections, as Gary Gates secured a victory for Republicans, while Lorraine Birabil and Anna Eastman held onto the two seats vacated by Democrats.
In House District 28 - encompassing parts of Fort Bend County, including Sugar Land - Gary Gates (R-Rosenberg) beat Elizabeth Markowitz (D-Katy) by a 58-42 margin. The race had received national attention, with endorsements from presidential candidates and hundreds of thousands of dollars being poured in from New York City and Washington D.C.
In that race, voters turned out in record numbers, with more than 30,000 people marking a ballot. That was the highest vote count in a special election for the Texas House by more than 9,000 votes and the highest Texas Legislature special election vote total since the 2015 Senate District 23 race between Sen. Jose Menendez and Rep. Trey Martinez-Fischer.
While Gates will face a Republican primary challenger in March, he is expected to win and face Markowitz again in November's general election. The last time those two met in November, 2019, Markowitz received 39 percent of the vote to Gates' 28 percent.
Meanwhile, in Dallas' House District 100, Lorraine Birabil (D-Dallas) easily defeated James Armstrong III (D-Dallas) by a 66-34 margin of victory. The two will face off again in the March primary, alongside four other Democratic candidates. The winner of that race will serve in the 2021-23 legislative session, as there are no Republicans filed for this seat on the November ballot.
|Lorraine Birabil (D-Dallas)
House District 100 had the lowest turnout out of the three special election run-offs with fewer than 2,500 votes cast. The total votes represented the second lowest turnout in a House Special election run-off since 1992.
Finally, in Houston's House District 148 race, Democrat Anna Eastman won a decisive victory against Republican Luis LaRotta, both of Houston. Eastman won on a 65-35 vote after beating LaRotta in the previous match-up between 15 Democratic candidates.
In last week's runoff election, nearly 7,000 voters showed up at the polls to place Eastman ahead of LaRotta, but LaRotta will again be the Republican nominee in November. Meanwhile, Eastman will face four primary challengers next month in an effort to advance to the 2020 general election.
Though the three winner's from last week's races are not guaranteed seats in 2021, they will
serve on interim committees, participate in interim hearings, hire staff, and have access to legislative resources to draft legislation for next session. All three winners will also be preparing for their March primary races - the next step to a full two-year term to the 87th Legislature beginning in January, 2021.
for a complete list of 2020 primary election races.