Battleground 2020Elections 2020IssuesState HouseStatewide NewsContentious Special Elections for Texas House Districts Result in Runoff Elections

All three special elections yesterday for Texas House seats resulted in runoff elections as Democrats battle to gain seats and the GOP seeks to hold the line.
November 6, 2019

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Last night, the special elections for three Texas House seats vacated by retiring lawmakers were held as Democrats energetically vie for the majority and Republicans seek to, at a minimum, hold their ground.

House District 28

Previously held by Rep. John Zerwas (R-Richmond), who served as the chief budget executive in the House for multiple legislative sessions during his tenure, the race for House District 28 received the most attention from state and national media as Democrats saw this as their only opportunity to flip a seat prior to the 2020 general election.

The field was comprised of six Republicans: Anna Allred, Gary Gates, Gary Hale, Tricia Krenek, Sarah Laningham, and Clinton Purnell; and one Democrat, Eliz Markowitz. By the end of the night, it was reduced to Gates and Markowitz, both of whom will now go toe to toe in a runoff election.

Markowitz received 39 percent of the vote while Gates followed with 28.5 percent.

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Gates, who has run for a myriad of elected positions in previous elections, including railroad commissioner in 2016 and state senate in 2014, but failed to come out on top each time, was largely self-funded. He loaned himself a whopping $445,000 in the last reporting period alone. 

Markowitz, the lone Democrat, garnered support from liberal special interest groups, and fellow Texas Democrats like former State Senator Wendy Davis, former presidential candidate and congressman Beto O’Rourke, and an array of sitting Texas House members

She significantly outraised her Republican competition.

In 2018, Zerwas won his reelection with 54 percent of the vote.

House District 100

The field competing for the solid Democrat district vacated by former state representative and current Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson was made up of five Democrats: James Armstrong III, Lorraine Birabil, Daniel Davis Clayton, Sandra Crenshaw, and Paul Stafford.

The two candidates who made it into the seemingly inevitable runoff were Birabil, a local activist who secured 33.2 percent of the vote, and Armstrong, an economic development executive who secured second place with 20.8 percent of the vote and a razor-thin five-vote margin.

Johnson faced no Republican opponent in 2018.

House District 148

An immense slate of potential candidates entered the race for House District 148 after Rep. Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) resigned earlier this year. 

The field of 15 candidates consisted of 12 Democrats: Rob Block, Carol Denson, Anna Eastman, Adrian Garcia, Terah Isaacson, Michele Leal, Penny “Morales” Shaw, Mia Mundy, Anna Núñez, Alva Trevino, Chris Watt, Kendra Yarbrough Camarena; two Republicans: Luis La Rotta and Ryan McConnico; and one independent: Chris Carmona. 

Once the votes were tallied, only Eastman and La Rotta were left standing, securing 20.3 percent and 15.8 percent respectively.

In 2018, Farrar won her re-election bid with 68 percent of the vote.


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McKenzie DiLullo

McKenzie DiLullo serves as Senior Editor and resident plate-spinner for The Texan. Previously, she worked as State Representative Kyle Biedermann’s Capitol Director during the 85th legislative session before moving to Fort Worth to manage Senator Konni Burton’s campaign. In her free time, you might find her enjoying dog memes, staring at mountains, or proctoring personality tests.