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*Updated* Texas Election Recap: Good News Overall

by: trowaman

Fri Nov 07, 2008 at 2:24 PM EST

Texas went for McCain, big whoop. But the real story is in the margins. George W. Bush carried Texas over John Kerry by a 61%-38% margin. Four years later John McCain has carried the Lone Star state by a comparatively weak 55%-44%. The gap has shrunk by 12% points in the democrats favor.

Here's the quick scorecard post election day:
US Senate: Cornyn 55%-43%, no change
US House: Dems - 1 for 20 R - 12 D
State Senate: Dems +1 for 18 R - 12 D and 1 outstanding (R defense)
State House: Dems +3 for 75 R - 74 D and 1 outstanding (R defense)
Dallas County moves to hard democratic, from weak democratic
Harris County (Houston) emerges as a purple county from solid republican
Tarrant County (Fort Worth) reflects the state as a whole
Bexar County (San Antonio) has a slight democratic lean
Travis County (Austin) is a liberal bastion of democrats

trowaman :: *Updated* Texas Election Recap: Good News Overall
U.S. Senate
Rick Noriega was underfunded in his campaign. That is the first thing to say in "what went wrong." However, I have seen some people suggesting that we could have recruited better. Considering the depth of our bench and how well (or poorly) seasoned it is in Texas, I disagree. The results form the senate race almost matched the presidential results, so this was in no way a vote of confidence for Sen. Cornyn. So, where can Rep. Noriega go from here? I have heard rumors that he is interested in more of an executive position. The obvious positions that emerge are Lt. Governor and Harris County Judge (more on that later).

U.S. House
I lost my Congressman. It sucks. More importantly, the loss of Nick Lampson is a body blow for NASA in the next congress as there are no diehard supporters of NASA in the U.S. House who hold any seniority. I'm hoping Rep. Lampson gets an appointment by the administration relating to space and aeronautics. A statewide run is not in his future because in all honesty, his campaign teams from both 2006 an 2008 were not run as the well oiled machines that several other successful campaigns have been.

A quick note on Chet Edwards won re-election against a tier 4 for opponent by a 53%-45% margin. This is a reminder, he will never be safe in the current TX-17 and it is imperative why we need to take control of the state house.

My condolences to Larry Joe Doehrty and Michael Skelly. Both were great candidates but could not overcome their districts' PVIs, where the dial only moved a few percentage points in their favor.

Pete Sessions won re-election by the exact same margin he did in 2006 and Kenny Marchant lost several points this time around. Keep your eyes on these two, TX-24 and TX-32 may have life in them.

State Senate
WENDY DAIVS (D) WON SD-10!!!! This district is completely confined within Tarrant County and was held by cigar chomper Kim Brimer (R). Brimer spent most of the spring and summer suing Wendy to try and keep her off the ballot, he failed at least three times. I interned for Wendy last spring, and I am so proud of her, she also has the potential and background to go statewide if she wants to. There are more US Congressional district in Texas than there are state senate seats, so I doubt the Congress will be in her future. More importantly, the filibuster line for the Texas Senate was 11 members. There are now at least 12 Democrats. Good news.

Meanwhile, the special election in SD-17 will be finalized in December. Fmr Congressman Chris Bell (D) will finish off Fmr Judge Joan Huffman (R) then. A Republican spoiler filed as a democrat in the special and took 13% of the vote. Her total combined with Bell's would have been well over 50%. If we win this come December Dems will be at 13 Senators and +2 overall. We're not done.

State House
We lost three of our own seats, including two incumbents and one open seat. Juan Garcia (D) was elected against a corrupt R in 2006 and Dan Barrett (D) was elected in a special in late 2007. The open seat was in rural areas near College Station (home of Texas A&M). Garcia and Barrett were great guys but they both have a future somewhere in Texas politics if they really want it.

Alright, post-mortem over, we picked up six seats so far. The winners are as follows:
HD-52 (Williamson County, Round Rock) - Maldonado (D) wins an open seat 48.6%-47.4%
HD-78 (El Paso) - Joe Moody (D) wins open seat 51.5%-45.1%
HD-96 (Tarrant County) - Chris Turner beats hard right ideologue Bill Zedler 51.2%-46.6%
HD-101 (Dallas County, Mesquite) Robert Mikos (D) wins open seat 50.6%-49.3%
HD-102 (Dallas) - Carol Kent (D) beats long time incumbent Tony Goolsby 53.0%-47.0%
HD-133 (Harris) - Kristi Thibaut (D) beats Jim Murphy 50.6%-49.4%

Overall theme of the winners? Public education. Kent and Maldonado both have experience in public schools and all the rest had public education as part of their platform. Miklos and Thibaut were both surprising wins even though they were both expected to be close. Moody is 25 years old so expect to hear more from him later on. Chris Turner's win over Zedler is a victory against partisanship, for those familiar with Virginia politics Zedler was sort of our equivalent to Cuccinnelli. Kent and Moody should be safe from here out due to how their districts are changing in democrats favor.

Meanwhile, Dallas dems have been on such a rise, a candidate who was little more than a name on the ballot may have pulled off an upset pending the recount. Bob Romano (D) is 29 votes behind immigrant hater and school voucher supporter Linda Harper-Brown in Dallas County's HD-105. If Romano pulls this one out the House becomes a 75-75 tie. Expect Romano to face a stiff primary challenge in 2010 should he win.

Final Result? The odds of Tom Craddick remaining speaker are extremely slim. Expect a new Speaker who will allow members to bring forward legislation that is important to their districts. It's a good day for Democracy in the Texas House.

Dallas County
Dems won everything by large margins at a county level. Obama finished just shy of 60% and so did many of the judges. Embattled Sheriff Lupe Valdez (Female, Minority, Lesbian) finished with 55%

Harris County
Houston, we have liftoff. All but three, maybe four judges got over the finish line. They are the first democrats elected county wide in Harris county since the early 90s. Joining them are our new County Attorney Vince Ryan (D), County Clerk Loren Jackson (D), and (most importantly) the lead democratic vote getter Houston City Councilman and now, Sheriff-elect, Adrian Garcia. We were 5,000 votes short in winning District Attorney and finished behind in decent margins for County Judge and Tax-Assessor/Collector. All offices should be held by Democrats within 6-8 years.

Tarrant County
No gains, but Tarrant held margins exactly even as the state as a whole. Want to take the state's temperature? Watch Fort Worth.

Bexar County
A few judges gained in San Antonio, but nothing drastic. This county remains fairly non partisan.

Travis County
Obama won 67% in this Austin based county. Everything else followed.

A Few Other Notes
Galveston Counties is becoming more of a white flight county with margins diminishing. This is very bad news for Galveston where most offices are held by Dems. Dems barely held the open Sheriff seat 50.5%-49.5% against an underfunded, under-qualified republican. I can only hope that it is due to Democrats leaving the island from Hurricane Ike.

Democrats won their first Judge on the 1st Court of Appeals, a 14 county court that includes Harris and Galveston county then stretches out towards Austin. Congratulations Judge Jim Sharp.

Fort Bend County, home of Sugarland is moving Democratic with several 53-47 wins for the republicans. Not bad.

Fort Bend County Commissioner Place 1 has moved to the Democrats. It's just a low level County Commissioner but I thought you all would like to know due to who won it. Netroots hero and original Dean Dozen candidate, Richard Morrison.

The Future
It's good. Houston Mayor will be an open seat in 2009 due to term limits and I have only heard Democratic names mentioned.

The state house is 1 or 2 Dems behind from switching over and we got 1 cycle to do it. We did New York's Senate, time for our House.

Governor. Dems started winning Harris County and that's the greenlight. Houston Mayor Bill White should be ready to go for us. All eyes are now on Hutchison and what she chooses to do. All of Texas' Republican politicians are in a holding position, waiting on her and what she chooses to do. Rick Perry has no term limits and wants to keep his job. As for the other offices, Former Comptroller John Sharp is supposably looking at the Senate seat and Noriega may be eyeing Lt. Gov.

Time will tell, but we're looking good.

Some more information:
Quickly, I was horribly wrong about Denton county. It went from +40 Bush, to +26 McCain. I am thrilled by this news and personally I am determined to flip this county even if I have to take it over myself, I just graduated from Denton's University of North Texas, so it is a bit of a vested interest.

1) Bell County. We had a good state house race here, lost it by the same margin Obama did. Very promising change in margins. Perhaps we can try again next year.
2) Major movement in Cameron County (Brownsville)
3) Several Valley districts moved Dem between 10%-20%
4) Nueces County (Corpus Christi) is still red (surprising) but less so by 10%.
5) There is a slow creep democratically across Ron Paul's TX-14 (Corpus to Galveston). My guess is this is more of an immigration line more than anything consisting of Mexican immigrants moving north.

When will the first democrat be elected statewide in Texas?


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Texas statewide still sucks
We couldn't even get a guy named SAM HOUSTON elected to the Supreme Court!

He got 46%--I believe that's the highest percentage for a Democrat statewide in over a decade.  Getting better, but there's still a long ways to go.

[ Parent ]
Don't forget about the border counties
Excellent recap, but don't forget about the border counties in your scorecard, which are solidly Democratic and some of which are growing rapidly (Cameron, Hidalgo, Maverick, and El Paso all have large populations). EP is not too different in size from the vaunted Travis (Austin), and we are actually more progressive.  We're an important part of Texas.

Joe H. in El Paso  

Where has it been suggested that we could have "recruited better?"
You noted:

Rick Noriega was underfunded in his campaign. That is the first thing to say in "what went wrong." However, I have seen some people suggesting that we could have recruited better. Considering the depth of our bench and how well (or poorly) seasoned it is in Texas, I disagree.

Where are people suggesting that the Netroots could have "recruited better?" I've not seen this and would be very interested to see that.

I've been asked several times over the last several days if I believed we could have "recruited better," or would have been better off if the Texas Netroots had sided with Watts in the primary.

On both counts, the answer is a resounding, "no."

When it comes to our next senate and gubernatorial races in Texas, I have my personal favorites, as do many in the Texas Netroots. And, you may see a much broader division from the Texas Netroots next time statewides come up.

However, as far as Noriega goes, it is a choice I for one stand behind. It was not a perfect campaign, that's true; campaigns are rarely perfect. But, in terms of recruiting a people-powered, progressive Democrat in Texas, Rick was far and away the best choice for the cycle.

To be frankly honest, Obama at the top of the ticket hurt our statewide candidates as much as it helped them. It helped them in the urban areas of Dallas and Houston and El Paso, and hurt them in areas like Galveston and East Texas. Contrary to popular belief, you can't win a statewide race in Texas with just the urban areas and the Valley and El Paso; you've got to win or at least post good numbers in East Texas.

Much of East Texas, however, was part of the list of 100 counties where Obama actually underperformed John Kerry and where voter turnout was actually at a lower percent than it was in 2004.

One part of that was the utter lack of contested general election races for local office, state representative, and U.S. Congress. In East Texas, races for county office drive turnout up the ballot as opposed to other parts of the state where top-of-the-ticket races drive turnout and boost down-ballot Democrats.

By way of an example, Upshur County in East Texas had a 26 percent DECREASE in the number of voters who voted in the general in 2008 versus 2004. In 2004, there was a hotly contested sheriff's race in Upshur, as well as massive GOTV operations from a congressional race and a state legislative race that drove turnout. This year, that area was absent such GOTV operations. Had there been more local races across East Texas and those other 100 counties, turnout and thus Democratic voter strength would have been higher, which would have boosted Rick's margins and the margins of other statewide Democrats.  

I'm not buying that Obama hurt anyone statewide.  He got 44% in Texas, which is about as good as any Democrat ever gets statewide in the last decade.  Noriega slightly underperformed Obama in Texas, so it's not like he dragged Noriega's or anyone else's numbers down.

[ Parent ]
Le sigh . . .
First, thanks for coming to our election night party in Clear Lake, it was great to finally meet you in person.

Second: Gore - 38%, Kerry 38%, Obama 44%.
Obama wins Harris narrowly and Dallas county by large margins. He may have dragged the ticket a bit in racist East Texas, but as you pointed out, the locals didn't have their own races to work on and he did help in the large cities (seriously, look at those margins in Dallas!). Heck, Obama might have pulled Wedny over the edge, I don't know, I haven't seen the cross tabs.

Obama did fine in Texas and I look forward to his re-election bid on my ballot in 4 years. Hopefully he considers sending staff in as he did with Indiana this cycle.

26, Male, Democrat, TX-26

[ Parent ]
Terrific write-up
I didn't realize the TX state house was so close.
I would think now that the NY senate has finally flipped to Dem majority that this should be the next priority for the party.

I'd say Houston is blue.
Check out my diary over at Dkos.

While we may not have the sheer numbers, we do control most important Congressional, City Council, and county-wide seats. Then of course, demographic trends favor us.

Parsing hairs
Houston is blue, Harris County is purple. Clear Lake, Katy, and Jersey City have something to say about how fast Dems will be in charge.

26, Male, Democrat, TX-26

[ Parent ]
I love the fact that Maverick County went for Obama

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