News Roundup: Two Latinas Are Headed To Congress, A First For Texas

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelNovember 7, 2018 1:19 pm|

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

Lizzie Pannill Fletcher is one of several women joining the Texas congressional delegation after Tuesday’s election, Prior to the elation, Texas’ delegation had three women, out of 36 House members and two Senators.

Two of the women joining the state’s congressional delegation are making history.

Democrats Sylvia Garcia, a state senator, and Veronica Escobar, a former El Paso County Commissioner and Judge,  rode landslide victories to become the first Latinas Texas is sending to Congress. Garcia won more than 75 percent of the vote in her race to represent the 29th Congressional district in the Houston area.

Escobar secured her victory with over 68 percent of the vote for the 16th Congressional district.

Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, a lecturer at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin says this is a watershed moment for Latinas.

“And what Sylvia Garcia and Veronica Escobar really represent, and I know it sounds corny and it may sound overused, but they are trailblazers, because they are literally blazing a trail for other Latinas to say I can do that too,” DeFrancesco Soto says.

DeFrancesco Soto points out that before Tuesday’s election, Texas was an outlier among states that also have large Latino population, such as Florida, California, and New York, all of which have sent Latinas to Congress. Texas has the second-largest Latino population in the country.

Both Garcia and Escobar will be replacing men in the Texas Congressional delegation. Garcia will be taking over the seat of fellow Democrat, Gene Green, who is retiring after more than two decades in Congress. Escobar is filling the seat vacated by U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who ran against U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.




After Tuesday’s midterm elections, Democrats still haven’t won a statewide office in Texas since 1994. But the Democratic Party in Texas made key gains in a couple of the state’s congressional races, as Democrats gained control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

 

As of late Tuesday night, Democrats pulled off two upsets of Republican-held U.S. House seats. (The race for the 23rd Congressional district, which stretches from San Antonio to West Texas, remains too close to call. Republican incumbent Will Hurd leads Democratic challenger, Gina Ortiz Jones, by 700 votes with all precincts reporting.)

One was in the Dallas area where civil rights attorney and former NFL player, Colin Allred defeated longtime GOP congressman, Pete Sessions. As KERA News reports, during his victory speech, Allred said, we’re all in this together…

“As John Lewis would say, “we live in the same house, we are all Americans, we are all Texans, and starting tonight, we’re going to start acting like it.’”

Sessions has represented the 32nd Congressional district since 2003, will be the first Democrat to represented this district.




Another upset Tuesday was in the Houston area.

Republican Congressman John Culberson lost the seat he’s held since 2001, to Democratic challenger Lizzie Pannill Fletcher.

As Houston Public Media’s Elizabeth Trovall reports, Fletcher won the 7th district, which Republicans have held for over half a century.

“I’m gunna get rid of the page for if we lose…” Fletcher told supporters.

A smiling Fletcher took the stage at a local watch party, declaring victory in her fight to unseat Culberson, a nine-term incumbent.

Fletcher was elected by a narrow margin in a district that hasn’t gone for a Democrat in more than 50 years.

Fletcher says she’s looking forward to working on bipartisan solutions when she begins her term – and keeping a check on President Donald Trump and the executive branch.

“I think the Democrats taking back the House is an important step in the House performing its constitutional function, it’s something that frankly we haven’t seen a lot of in the last two years and I think it’s something that the American people have made very clear with this election, that they want,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher, a lawyer by profession, will also be the first woman to represent District 7.