While all the statewide offices remained in Republican control, 2018 showed Democratic gains in many areas of the state traditionally dominated by Republicans. Largely due to the campaign of US Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke, who made the Senate race against incumbent Senator Ted Cruz the most competitive statewide race this cycle (Cruz won with 50.9% of the vote); statewide Republican candidates saw their slimmest margins of victory in 20 years. Governor Abbott outperformed his Republican colleagues, winning his race 55.9% to 42.5% against his Democratic challenger, Lupe Valdez. The remaining statewide Republicans generally received between 51% and 53% of the electorate. Texas Tribune has complete results here.
There were several changes to the Texas Legislature as a result of Tuesday’s elections that could have some impact on property/casualty insurance.
In the Texas Senate, two Republican incumbent Senators, Sen. Huffines from Dallas and Sen. Burton from Tarrant County, were defeated. The make-up of the Senate for 2019 will be 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats. Because the Republicans changed the Senate rules from a two-thirds majority to a three-fifths majority to suspend rules in 2015, the Republicans will still be able to control the Senate.
In the Texas House, Democrats flipped 12 seats in Tuesday’s elections, marking the biggest shift in the lower chamber since the 2010 midterm elections. The make-up for 2019 will be 83 Republicans and 67 Democrats, in 2017 the make-up was 95-55. This shift could give Democrats some leverage in the election of a new Speaker (more on that here). The new Speaker will determine appointments to committees.
Two members that have previously served on the House Insurance committee lost their re-election bids: Rep. Rodney Anderson (R) – Dallas, and Rep. Paul Workman (R) - Austin.
Other incumbent Republicans supportive of litigation reform that were defeated Tuesday included Rep. Ron Simmons (R) - Carrollton; Rep. Linda Koop (R) - Dallas; Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R) - Irving; Rep. Schofield (R) - Katy; Rep. Gary Elkins (R) - Houston; and Rep. Tony Dale (R) - Cedar Park.
Returning Republicans and Democrats that have served on the House Insurance Committee in one or more sessions include Representatives Frullo, Smithee, Greg Bonnen, Dennis Bonnen, S. Thompson, Sanford, Vo, Muñoz, Dutton, Hunter, and Morrison.
Pre-filing of bills in the Legislature begins this Monday, November 12, with the session set to begin Tuesday, January 8. As usual, ICT will be closely monitoring legislation that could affect the P&C industry and will provide analysis and reports on those bills as they make their way through the legislative process.