How Democratic Wins In Texas House Races Could Shape The Upcoming Legislative Session

Representatives from both sides of the aisle agree that while the Democrats won’t have a majority in the House, they will influence the election for the new House speaker, among other things.

By Jill Ament & Rhonda FanningNovember 8, 2018 8:16 am

Now that the midterms are over, and with Democratic wins in some historically Republican districts in Texas, we’re taking time to reflect on what those wins mean for Texas politics as a whole, and what the impact could be on the upcoming legislative session in January.

Texas Democratic House Rep. Chris Turner of the 101st District in Tarrant County says Tuesday’s election was a “huge night” for Democrats. Republican Rep. Sarah Davis, who won reelection to House District 134 in Harris County, says having more Democrats in the Texas House will “change the landscape” for the election of a new House Speaker ahead of the legislative session.

Turner on Beto O’Rourke winning Tarrant County:

“We were thrilled, obviously, that Beto O’Rourke carried Tarrant County – something that a Democrat has not done, I think, since the early 1990s, or mid-1990s.”

Turner on what Democrats will be able to do in the Texas House, despite still not having a majority:

“The reality is, is that the House is now very evenly divided, and neither party is going to be able to do whatever it wants all the time. People are gonna have to work together on a bipartisan basis and address the real issues people care about. Democrats are serious about focusing on helping our public schools, increasing access to health care for all Texas families and creating a strong economic and jobs environment. We want to work with our Republican colleagues on those issues and we need to spend our time on that … not on things like bathroom bills and new attacks on women’s health care and divisive immigration rhetoric.”

Turner on how more Democrats in the House could influence the election for the new House speaker:

“Democrats are gonna be central to the election of the next speaker. The next speaker is only going to be elected with strong bipartisan support. … Democrats are interested in having a speaker who will work with all members of the House to see that members can represent their districts, that the House is run and operated fairly.”

Turner on whether Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s reelection will affect Democrat’s influence in the Texas legislature:

“I think Dan Patrick had a bad night, actually. He performed far below what Gov. Abbott received; clearly there’s dissatisfaction with Dan Patrick’s performance as lieutenant governor. And he lost two state Senate seats. … Texans are rejecting and putting the brakes on Dan Patrick’s extreme agenda – bathroom bills and other nonsense. And they sent a message that that’s why they’re electing more Democrats to the House and the Senate ’cause they want leaders who are gonna focus on the issues that matter.”

Davis on electing a new House speaker:

“For the majority of the House members, this is first time that we’ve ever experienced what we would call an ‘open speaker’s race.’ Most of us have come in when Joe was the speaker. …Within the Republican caucus, we did change the bylaws to create a process in which we elect the speaker from the caucus. So, on Dec.1st, I believe, the Republican caucus is set to meet and proceed with the process of electing a speaker from the caucus. How that will work and/or if that will work, remains to be seen.”

Davis on why several House seats in the Houston area flipped to Democrats in the midterms:

“For far too long, at least in the last two or three legislative cycles, state leadership has really been governing on issues that don’t affect everyday Texans. The last legislative session, we were forced to spend more time talking about where people go to the bathroom than what’s going on in our classrooms. … We’ve not been governing on issues that affect average Texans and that are common-sense issues, and because of that, the election cycle was pretty predictable – it was just a matter of time.”

Davis on whether the Texas Republican Party is out of touch with regular Texans:

“We want to keep economic growth going, we want our economy to be strong, we want good public schools and we don’t want our legislators to spend all their time being potty police, and other social issues – those are not the things that affect Texans’ everyday lives. So, I think Texans are tired of the legislature convening and not talking about things that are important to the average Texan.”