The Democrat in the much-watched special election in a suburban district outside Houston fell short on Tuesday, but the race showed how much the traditionally heavy Republican district has become more progressive over time.
Republican Garry Gates defeated Democrat Eliz Markowitz by 58% to 42%, a 16 point margin, in House District 28.
In 2010, former Republican incumbent John Zerwas won the same district by a 43 point margin.
“We made this seat competitive in a way it’s never been before,” Markowitz said in a statement, acknowledging the difficulty of an off-year, special election.
Democrats remained undeterred about their chances of flipping the Texas House in November.
“The Texas Democratic Party and Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee are targeting 22 districts in 2020 to flip the state house. House District 28 remains on the list,” said the state party chair, Gilberto Hinojosa.
Gary Gates will now represent the Fort Bend County district for eight months until November when he and the rest of Texas’ 150 statehouse lawmakers are on the ballot. Markowitz indicated Tuesday she plans to run against Gates again.
Beto O’Rourke lost the district in 2018 by only 3 points.
In two other special elections on Tuesday, Democrats won two statehouse seats— Anna Eastman in Houston and Lorraine Birabil in Dallas. The Birabil victory brings a record number of women serving in the Texas legislature, according to Annie’s List.
“Tonight, Democratic women helped move us closer to long-term, progressive change in Texas,” said Royce Brooks, executive director of Annie’s List. “ [Markowtiz’] efforts only further illustrate the power that women candidates have to galvanize voters and change our communities for the better.”
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