November 10, 2020

Inside this edition of Capitol Roundup:

Republicans retain control of Texas House and Senate amid big voter turnout.

Rep. Dade Phelan secures enough support for House speaker position.

Several new members will take seats in the Legislature as a handful of incumbents are ousted. Meanwhile, three House seats remain contested.
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Quote of the Week:

"Over the coming days, I will work to try and earn the support of all 149 members of the Texas House so that we can heal and unify going into next Session."

State Rep. Dade Phelan tweeted the statement last week after releasing a list of Texas House members who pledged their support for Phelan's bid for speaker of the House.  Phelan has since announced that he has support from 106 House members, which is well over the 76 votes needed.  House members will officially vote in the next speaker on January 12, 2021, when the new Legislature is sworn in. 
Republicans retain control of Texas Legislature amid high voter turnout

Texas Republicans are poised to retain control of both chambers of the state Legislature and all statewide executive offices after last week's general elections, which were decided with about two-thirds of the state's registered voters casting their ballots.

Roughly 66 percent of the state's 17 million or so registered voters cast ballots in this year's general elections, with the vast majority taking advantage of early voting. The Texas voter turnout in 2020 was about 6.6 percent higher than in 2016 and the highest on record since 1992 when about 73 percent of registered voters cast ballots.

In the Texas Senate, Republicans lost one seat in a San Antonio area district, but they will maintain a majority in the upper chamber with 18 of 31 Senate seats. One of those seats will be decided in a special runoff election for Senate District 30 next month between Rep. Drew Springer (R-Muenster) and Republican challenger Shelley Luther.

Heading into Election Day, Democrats across the state had especially hoped to upend the Republican majority in the Texas House. However, Republicans will maintain control there by roughly the same margins they had going into the elections when they controlled 83 of the 150 House seats.

Three races in the House remain contested - House Districts 47, 112, and 135 - as votes continue to be counted. However, even if Democrats were to win those districts, they would still fall short of the number of seats needed to own a majority in the Legislature's lower chamber. Today is the last day for counties to review provisional ballots, and Nov. 16 is the final day for ballot boards to count mail-in and provisional ballots.

Click here to view up-to-date results from the Secretary of State's Office. 
Rep. Dade Phelan announces overwhelming support to elect him next House Speaker 

Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) has announced he has enough support in the Texas House to elect him as the legislative body's leader for the upcoming legislative session. 

Phelan announced that he has pledges from 106 House members - 57 Republicans and 49 Democrats - which is well over the 76-vote simple majority he needs to be elected. Phelan has represented House District 21 since 2015 and currently chairs the House State Affairs Committee.
Rep. Dade Phelan
If elected speaker, Phelan would serve in the role for the next two years and replace Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton), who did not seek re-election to the House this year after one term in the position. The official election for House speaker will take place in January when the new Legislature is sworn in.

Eight different House members - four Republicans and four Democrats - had announced plans ahead of last week's election to run for the position. But it wasn't until it became clear that Republicans would hold onto their majority in the House that its members began coalescing around their preferred candidates. Just two days after the elections, Phelan had already compiled a list of 83 members supporting him for speaker.

Among Phelan's supporters are high-profile Democrats such as Reps. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) and Joe Moody (D-El Paso), both of whom had earlier declared their own bids for the speaker position. The list also includes Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake), who chairs the powerful budget-writing House Appropriations Committee.

Meanwhile, Texas GOP Chair Allen West said in an email to supporters this week that he state party would not support or accept Phelan as the House's next speaker. West, who does not cast a vote in the speaker's race, said the state Republican Party could not support someone "who would seek affirmation from progressive socialist Democrats to attain that position."

Nonetheless, Phelan has begun putting together a speaker's transition team to help recruit staff and develop working groups among House members. One of those groups, Phelan announced this week, is a bipartisan workgroup to review and make recommendations on legislative operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 86th Texas Legislature will see many new faces but largely remain the same

As mentioned above, Republicans will maintain control of both chambers of the Legislature in the upcoming session beginning Jan. 12, 2021.  However, last week's elections will usher in at least 17 new members in the House and four new members in the Senate. 

The elections also resulted in one Republican incumbent losing a seat in the Senate and four incumbent House members losing their seats (two Democrats and two Republicans).  Meanwhile, three House races remain contested in districts where incumbents are leading by small margins as mail-in and provisional ballots continue to be counted.

See below for further details, and for complete up-to-date election results, click here

New Members

District 14 - Sarah Eckhardt (D-Austin) was elected in a special election earlier this year. 

District 19 - Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio) defeated incumbent Pete Flores (R-Pleasanton) 

District 29 - Cesar Blanco (D-El Paso) replaced Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso), who did not seek re-election.

District 30 - Either Rep. Drew Springer (R-Muenster) or Republican Shelley Luther will take the seat in a special election runoff race on December 19, 2020. The winner will replace outgoing Sen. Pat Fallon (R-Prosper), who resigned.

Contested Races

District 47 - Rep. Vikki Goodwin (D-Austin) leads Republican Justin Berry by 1,324 votes.

District 112 - Rep. Angie Chen Button (R-Richardson) leads Democrat Brandy Chambers by 223 votes.

District 135 - Rep. Jon Rosenthal (D-Houston) leads Republican Justin Ray by 317 votes. 
New Members

District 2 - Bryan Slaton (R-Royce City) beat incumbent Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Van) in a primary runoff. 

District 10 - Jake Ellzey (R-Midlothian)

District 25 - Cody Thane Vasut (R-Angleton)

District 26 - Jacey Jetton (R-Richmond)

District 28 - Gary Gates (R-Rosenberg)

District 59 - Shelby Slawson (R-Stephenville) beat incumbent Rep. J.D. Sheffield (R-Gatesville). 

District 60 - Glenn Rogers (R-Graford)

District 74 - Eddie Morales (D-Eagle Pass)

District 76 - Claudia Ordaz Perez (D-El Paso)

District 92 - Jeff Cason (R-Bedford) 

District 96 - David Cook (R-Mansfield) Note: returns are not complete

District 100 - Jasmine Felicia Crockett (D-Dallas) beat incumbent Rep. Lorraine Birabil (D-Dallas). 

District 119 - Elizabeth "Liz" Campos (D-San Antonio)

District 132 - Mike Schofield (R-Katy) beat incumbent Rep. Gina Calanni (D-Houston). 

District 134 - Ann Johnson (D-Houston) beat incumbent Rep. Sarah Davis (R-Houston) 

District 138 - Lacey Hull (R-Houston)

District 148 - Penny Morales Shaw (D-Houston) beat incumbent Rep. Anna Eastman (D-Houston). 


20 - Board of Directors Meeting (Austin)