5 Votes Determine Texas House Runoff, 12 Votes Decide $569M Bond

Five votes may decide who will make the runoff in one Texas House district special election.

In November elections turnout is low, but that means races are more likely to be decided by a small number of voters — even if these are races that are likely to stay in their respective party’s hands. Voter turnout statewide was an anemic 6 percent, even with the 2020 elections on everyone’s minds and people-pleasers such as a statewide income tax ban on the ballot.

Below are the results of three special elections in Texas from Tuesday night as voters were also busy choosing between 10 constitutional amendment proposals:

HD 28
In suburban Houston, the race to succeed longtime moderate Republican Chairman Dr. John Zerwas will feature recurring conservative Republican contender Gary Gates (28%) to sole Democrat Eliz Markowitz (39%). Support from the five other Republicans in the seven-person race could push Gates across the finish line in the runoff.

HD 100
The heavily Democrat south Dallas district formerly held by now-mayor Eric Johnson has Lorraine Birabil (33% or 2,274 votes) and James Armstrong III (21% or 1,421 votes) appearing to have made the runoff. But with five votes separating Armstrong from his nearest competitor — Daniel Davis Clayton (1,416 votes) — a recount or election canvass of uncounted absentee votes could change things. Keep an eye on this over the next two weeks.

HD 148
The 15-candidate free-for-all to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Jessica Farrar was a see-saw last night as results came in, and by 11 p.m. it appeared another five-vote margin would have tentatively decided this race. But finally, a runoff between Democrat Anna Eastman (16% or 1,856 votes) versus Republican Luis La Rotta (17% or 1,539 votes) is probable, with nearest contenders Democrat Adrian Garcia and a previous Republican challenger to Farrar, Ryan McConnico, now behind by a few hundred votes each.

From the hip: HD 28 is very likely to stay in Republican hands, and HD 100 in Democrat hands. But the one to watch here, if any, is HD 148, which may not strongly favor the Republicans, but is nonetheless winnable under the right conditions. The Republicans along with the Libertarian in the race, Chris Carmona, tallied up around 3,000 votes and the Democrats around 6,000. But in small turnout elections, it’s a matter of getting out the vote, and small-government supporters have a tiny glimmer of a chance to earn +1 in the House. Then again, so do Democrats against Gates in HD 28.

But the moral of tonight’s story is, again, every vote counts. And those votes carry more punch during low turnout elections. Case in point: A $569 million bond election in Midland Independent School District in West Texas was carried last night by 12 votes.

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