November 2020 General Election Recap
The much-anticipated general election has now come and gone. This year’s election was set in the backdrop of an unprecedented pandemic. In Texas, an unprecedented number of people turned out for early voting, which ran from October 13-30. For context, 9.7 million people (57.3% of registered) voters cast their vote in comparison to the approximately 9 million people that cast their vote in the 2016 general election.
In the key statewide race of interest, incumbent Sen. John Cornyn defeated Democratic challenger MJ Hegar. While much of the focus was on the national election, where the presidential race is too close to call as of this recap, here is a recap of some of the results from key races in the Texas Legislature. The outcome from the election has a potential impact on issues that the industry might face during the upcoming legislative session. Overall, Republicans remained the dominant party in Texas.
Balance of the Texas House
In order to gain a majority in the 150 member Texas House of Representatives, Democrats looked to retain the 12 seats they flipped in 2018 as well as pick up an additional nine. With results in for Texas House races, there is no real change from last session where the split was 83 Republicans and 67 Democrats. A previously held Republican seat, Sarah Davis from Houston, flipped to the Democrats. Essentially cancelling this out, another Houston seat held by a Democrat was won by a Republican.
A majority in the Texas House, or even a closer margin between parties, would greatly affect who the lower chamber will elect as Speaker of the House. In Texas, the Speaker of the House is elected by its members with a simple majority. The Speaker then assigns members to chair and serve on the House’s committees, where legislation is first introduced, and policy is shaped. The outcome of yesterday’s election didn’t move the needle much. House committee chairs and committee members are usually announced near the beginning of the session. We will monitor for any changes to the committees we follow, House Insurance and House Business and Industry.
The race for speaker has already begun with candidates from both parties filing: Democrats Senfronia Thompson of Houston, Joe Moody of El Paso, Trey Martinez Fischer of San Antonio, and Oscar Longoria of Mission; Republicans Dade Phelan of Beaumont, Trent Ashby of Lufkin, and Chris Paddie of Marshall. Geanie Morrison of Victoria, who had filed, has backed out and thrown her support behind Ashby.
Texas House Races of Interest
Greg Bonnen (HD 24, R), who represents parts of Galveston and sits on House Insurance won his race against Brian J. Rogers (D) and Dick Illyes (L).
In HD 32, encompassing parts of Corpus Christi and Port Aransas on the Texas Coast, Todd Hunter (R) was in a race to watch, as Democrats had targeted the district as one they needed flip to gain majority. Hunter won reelection.
Current House Insurance Chair, Eddie Lucio III (D) had no opponent and retained his seat representing HD 38.
Incumbent Julie Johnson (D), who sits on House Insurance and has voiced an interest in insurance issues in the past, was in a race to watch as Republicans sought to win back a seat they lost in 2018. Karyn Brownlee (R) lost and Johnson retained the seat.
Dennis Paul (R), who sits on House Insurance, won against Bryan J. Henry (D).
Tom Oliverson (R) beat Kayla Alix (D).
Sarah Davis (R) was in a competitive race against Ann Johnson (D). Davis, who is seen as a moderate, also sits on House Insurance. She lost the race and is the only incumbent to lose this election.
All members of House Insurance were re-elected including Chris Turner (D) and Hubert Vo (D).
The Texas Senate races this election were considerably lower key than the Texas House. The biggest race being watched in the upper chamber was that in SD 19. SD 19 had been a traditionally Democrat district, but Republican Pete Flores won the seat in a special election in 2018. Flores faced a challenge from Democrat Roland Gutierrez. Gutierrez ended up beating Flores, flipping the seat to a Democrat.
This race is significant because the Senate has a threshold of three-fifths (19 votes) to bring up bills on the Senate floor. With Flores, there were 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick did not rule out the possibility of changing the Senate rules for bringing legislation to the Senate floor to a simple majority if the Democrats regained this seat. The Senate split is now 18 Republicans and 13 Democrats.
Election Recap and Legislative Forecast Webinar
On November 18, ICT is hosting a webinar recapping the election and looking ahead at what it might mean for the industry this upcoming legislative session. The speaker will be Jay Thompson. Register here.