For the first time in a decade Texas will have a completely new leadership lineup in statewide offices. While the new Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, and others have their own bona fides and policy priorities, the ideology won’t change much.
Republican’s continue to dominate statewide offices and the Legislature. This should be good news for Texas business, and may even be good for long-term GOP strength given how (relatively) well they did with Hispanic voters and women.
The policy climate will still center on less of most things (taxes, regulations, spending) and more of some things like jobs and growth.
Governor-elect Greg Abbott is ideologically quite conservative and while he may not be as singularly focused on economic development as Rick Perry, attracting companies to the state and their jobs will remain on the short list of his priorities.
Lt. Governor-elect Dan Patrick won impressively against a sitting Hispanic Texas Senator. What may surprise some is that Patrick is a pro-life candidate who campaigned on immigration reform, lower property taxes, and school choice (he’s been a strong advocate on this issue in the Texas Senate). Some exit polls suggest that Patrick may have won as much as 46% of the Hispanic vote, much more than even George W. Bush’s 40% in his 1998 re-election, considered a major milestone at the time.
The Texas economy benefits from huge tax revenues from pulling oil and gas out of shale formations throughout the state and the state budget remains firmly in the black, allowing Texas to offer incentives for corporate re-locations and expansions on at least an even playing field with competing states.
That’s together with a policy climate that includes no state personal income tax, a nominal corporate tax, a reasonable regulatory environment, and low cost of living.
A brief summary of the election:
Greg Abbott won the governorship with 59.28% of the vote.
Dan Patrick won the lieutenant governorship with 58.16% of the vote.
Ken Paxton won the attorney generalship with 58.84% of the vote.
George P. Bush (son of Jeb) is the new Land Commissioner, winning handily.
All other Republican statewide candidates won their race by at least a 15-point margin.
As Texas’ senior Senator, John Cornyn, appears poised to move into the # 2-ranking role in the U.S. Senate Republicans pulled off one upset in a far west Texas congressional district and now hold a 24-12 edge in the U.S. House.
In a critical state senate race, Konni Burton (R) took back the seat in Tarrant County (SD 10), previously held by Democrat and gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, winning with 52.83% of the vote in a swing district. Republican incumbent Joan Huffman (SD 17 – Houston) was challenged by a well-financed opponent but won easily with 63.34% of the vote.
In two earlier special elections for the state senate this year, Republicans Brandon Creighton in SD 4 and Charles Perry in SD 28 won their races handily.
These wins increase the Republican majority in the Senate from 19 to 20 (in a body of 31).
There were several contested races for the Texas House; Republicans increased their majority in the House from 95 to 98 members (in a body of 150). In a critical race in Galveston and Chambers County (HD 23), Republican Wayne Faircloth won an open seat formerly held by a personal injury trial lawyer who did not run for re-election.
Republican Rick Galindo in Bexar County (HD 117 – San Antonio) challenged incumbent Democrat Phil Cortez, whose campaign was financed by the Texas Trial Lawyers Association. This is a swing district with a large Hispanic population and Galindo won with 52.69% of the vote.
Another key House race was in South Texas (HD 43), in which Republican J.M. Lozano won with 61.42% of the vote. Lozano first won election to the House in 2010 as a Democrat, but then became a Republican and won election as a Republican in 2012 and again this year.
The Galindo and Lozano victories suggest Republicans are making inroads with Hispanic voters. Interestingly, five of the contested House races won by Republicans were in Dallas County, which Obama’s Battleground Texas made “ground zero” in its attempt to turn Texas blue:
HD 102, Republican Linda Koop won with 62.49% in an open seat.
HD 105, Republican Rodney Anderson won with 55.44% in an open seat.
HD 107, incumbent Republican Kenneth Sheets won with 55.01%.
HD 108, Republican Morgan Meyer won with 60.67% in an open seat.
HD 113, incumbent Republican Cindy Burkett won with 59.42%.
When the 84th Texas Legislature convenes in January 2015 there will be new faces in every statewide office (all GOP); Republicans will have increased their majority in both chambers; only one major “crisis” looms (school finance); and expect the legislative agenda to focus on education (a Governor-elect Abbot priority) and additional funding for infrastructure like roads, water and energy. Overall, Texas should be alright.