No Blue Wave to Carry Texas Into 2021

Written by  Steven Albright and Tracey Borders

Despite a lot of money spent and growing anticipation surrounding the election, there was no blue wave in Texas this election cycle. While there will be an important runoff for two Senate seats in Georgia to determine the balance of the US Senate, it was quickly made clear that the Lone Star State will remain red with a full Republican sweep of all statewide races.

Republicans held the Texas House with the same nine-seat majority we started the election with – 83 Republicans and 67 Democrats. Both the Republicans and Democrats flipped a House seat with incumbents Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place) and Rep. Gina Calanni (D-Katy) losing their re-election bids. While Republicans have successfully held onto their majority, it is possible the margin may become narrower yet as mail-in ballots continue to be counted in several House Districts with close races.

One of the most striking differences between the 2018 and 2020 election cycles is the unprecedented amount of outside money spent to flip the Texas House. In 2018, Democrat candidates spent only $3.75 million to flip 12 Texas House seats. This year, it is estimated the Democrats spent over $33 million to try to flip 9 seats and gain control of the Texas House.

Once the fate of the Texas House had been decided, the spotlight quickly turned to the Speaker’s race with murmurings of who would become the next Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives – a question that had gone unanswered since Speaker Dennis Bonnen announced his retirement from the state legislature in October 2019. However, Representative Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) – Chairman of the House Committee on State Affairs – let no time pass after the election before announcing that he had secured enough pledges to become the next Speaker of the Texas House.

Although victory has been declared by Chair Phelan, it should be noted that this race will not officially conclude until all members have been sworn in on opening day of the 87th Legislative Session and votes are cast for the new Speaker. AGC looks forward to working with the new speaker to address important infrastructure related issues in the upcoming legislative session.

With most of election night’s focus on the Texas House, it did not go unnoticed that Senator Pete Flores (R-Pleasanton) was unsuccessful in his bid for re-election. State Representative Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio) defeated the incumbent with a slim margin of 3 percentage points. This shifts the make-up of the Senate to 18 Republicans and 13 Democrats.

Looking forward to the 87th legislative session, which begins January 12, 2021, the legislature will have many important issues to address. Creating the next two-year budget will be the biggest challenge for policy makers as they grapple with the effects of a post Covid-19 economy. Health care, public education and infrastructure spending will likely be top priorities for the legislature. AGC will work closely with policy makers to ensure that infrastructure needs continue to be met.

Other priorities for AGC include working with the legislature to pass meaningful tort reform measures to reduce frivolous commercial vehicle related litigation. Nuclear jury awards and millions of dollars spent on unnecessary legal expenses continue to take its toll on the industry. AGC has joined with many other trade associations in asking the legislature to address this important issue.

AGC of Texas looks forward to the 87th legislative session and working with policy makers to address the state’s most pressing infrastructure, employment, and workforce related needs. A robust infrastructure funding plan and a skilled construction workforce will be a critical component of Texas’ and the nation’s economic recovery. AGC of Texas stands ready to work with the legislature to keep Texans working, safely moving, and our state’s economy growing.

MediaEDGE Logo sml