This story has been updated since its original publication.
All eyes are on some of Texas’ most important races on Tuesday. Here’s the breakdown.
In the Houston area, Democrats are hoping to nab a Republican-held seat in Richmond. The state House seat, vacated by Rep. John Zerwas who resigned to work at the University of Texas System, is one of the nine House seats needed by Democrats to flip the lower chamber of the Texas Legislature.
“Things are looking really good, when we’re hitting the doors people seem positive, when we’re greeting them at the polls they seem excited,” Dr. Eliz Markowitz, the Democrat seeking to replace Zerwas said in an organizing call with Annie’s List. “The demographic is shifting due to urban sprawl from Houston. We truly think this is the time that we can flip HD28 and set the stage for a Democratic 2020 elections.”
Markowitz could win outright on Tuesday night, or be headed to a runoff with one of three Republicans.
[The Signal will be covering this election Tuesday night.]
If elected, Markowitz would be the first woman to represent House District 28, an achievement she promised she would pay forward by helping elect a female House speaker.
In Dallas, a number of Democrats are running to fill the seat left vacated by former Rep. Eric Johnson, who won the city’s mayoral race earlier this year.
So far, the safely-held Democratic seat is being best contested by Lorraine Birabil, a long-time Democratic staffer who has raised the most money in the race and has seen local Dallas Democratic officials rally around her with endorsements.
Annie’s List, the Austin-based group that trains progressive woman for office and has endorsed both Birabil and Markowitz, stressed the importance of flipping the Texas House in order for Democrats to have a seat at the table when redistricting takes place in 2021. “That’s not only our state-level legislative districts but also Texas’ congressional districts as well,” said the group’s executive director Royce Brooks. “Due to the population growth that Texas has experienced over the last 10 years, we’re expected to gain as many as three new congressional districts.”
Houston’s mayoral race
The recently drama-rich mayoral race in Houston has incumbent Mayor Sylvester Turner in a very comfortable lead, but Trump-like figure Tony Buzbee isn’t going down without a fight. The two have sparred on a wide range of topics, including flooding mitigation, firefighter pensions, and the city’s budget.
And both candidates have also slugged each other with a steady stream of scathing political ads. In a September ad, the incumbent mayor highlighted Buzbee’s $500,000 donation to Trump’s inauguration committee and referred to Buzbee as a “Trump imitator.” Another ad illustrated Buzbee’s DWI arrest.
More recently, Turner has worked to highlight Buzbee’s connection to Steve Hotze, an anti-LGTBQ advocate whom Buzbee sought an endorsement from.
Turner holds a sizable lead in the race, with 44 percent of likely voters backing him, almost twice the support of Buzbee with 23 percent.
Unless Turner is able to get more than 50 percent of the vote on election day, it’s likely the mayoral race will head into a December runoff between the top two candidates, which at this point, will likely feature Turner and Buzbee.
Turner and Buzbee are only two of 11 mayoral candidates in the race that also include former City Councilwoman Sue Lovell on the left and conservative businessman Bill King on the right. Both remain stuck in single digits.
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at email@example.com