2018 Election

Why Texas State Senate Elections Matter

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State elections in Texas can be pretty discouraging. After all, there’s little hope of Democrats claiming a majority in either the Texas Senate or the Texas House of Representatives.

But there are other goals (aside from taking a majority) that Democrats in Texas can shoot for. And the Texas Tribune wrote this week about an incredibly important one — the three-fifths majority needed for our State Senate to bring legislation to the floor.

Basically, the Texas Senate includes 31 seats, and the three-fifths rule requires at least 19 to approve of bringing legislation to the floor (it used to be a two-thirds rule, though Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick lowered it to get past needing any assistance from Democrats).

During the 85th State Legislature that met in 2017, the Republicans held 20 seats — meaning they needed no approval or assistance from Democrats to move legislation. But, if that number drops to 18 for the 86th State Legislature that will begin next year, everything changes.

The Texas Tribune notes three Texas Senate races that could flip to Democrats this cycle:

District 10: Konni Burton (R) vs. Beverly Powell (D)

District 10 covers large portions of Tarrant County, including part or all of Fort Worth, Benbrook, Kennedale, Mansfield, Arlington, Colleyville and the Hurst/Euless/Bedford area.

Burton barely flipped this seat in 2014, and this district was basically a toss-up in the last presidential election.

Democrat Beverly Powell is running to replace Burton. Powell is a businesswoman and a volunteer with the Burleson Opportunity Fund, which helps local students attend Hill College. Get involved with Powell’s campaign here.

District 16: Don Huffines (R) vs. Nathan Johnson (D)

District 16 covers large portions of Dallas County, including part or all of Irving, Farmers Branch, Carrollton, Dallas, University Park and Garland. I once lived in District 16 back when John Carona held the seat.

Don Huffines knocked off Carona in a 2014 primary, but he’s running in a district that voted for Hillary Clinton by 4.6 points. There’s a big overlap between Huffines’ district and that of Congressman Pete Sessions, who is in a tight race with Democrat Colin Allred in Texas’ 32nd congressional district.

Democrat Nathan Johnson, who is running against Huffines, is an attorney who has provided pro-bono services to the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas. He’s also coached youth soccer teams and volunteered with Reading Partners — a program that helps kids who have fallen behind in learning to read. Get involved with his campaign here.

District 17: Joan Huffman (R) vs. Rita Lucido (D)

District 17 covers an inland portion of Texas just south of Houston and running down to the Gulf near Freeport. It includes part or all of Sugar Land, Houston, Katy, Brazoria, Rosenberg, West Columbia and Lake Jackson.

In 2014, Joan Huffman beat challenger Rita Lucido by almost 30%. In 2018, Lucido is challenging Huffman once again in a district that went Republican in the last presidential election — but by less than 1 point.

Lucido is a board member with the Texas Civil Rights Project, and she’s the former board chair of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. Get involved with her campaign here.

Make a Difference in These Races

You can make a difference in these races by giving, volunteering and otherwise helping to spread the word. And, if elected, these new state senators can make a difference by ending Dan Patrick’s radical agenda. Remember, as I’ve written about, there’s no mandate for the wild, right-wing agenda that we’re seeing with Republicans in power.

I’ll say it again, because this is really important: Even if you don’t live in one of these districts, making a small donation to one of these Democratic candidates would make a HUGE difference in what can and cannot pass during next year’s session.

This election is about energy and the engagement of people who’ve never before engaged in elections. There’s not always a good chance to make a real impact through Democrats in Texas. But this is one of those chances — so let’s all take advantage of it.

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