News & Press: Member Update

2018 General Election Report

Friday, November 9, 2018  
Posted by: Michael Hancock
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November 9, 2018





As you may know, ACEC Texas publishes a hard-copy magazine several times each year that is distributed to our members but is primarily aimed at several thousand elected officials and opinion leaders around the state. We are working on a new issue that will be distributed around the first of the year. It will focus on legislative issues for the upcoming session, but we also want to include an article on technology and the future for engineering. First, how are you incorporating new technologies into your projects , and second, what are the next "big things" in this industry? Send your thoughts to .


Send us some ideas on these topics, with information on specific projects, and let us know if you or someone on your staff would be willing to be interviewed for the article. It is a good opportunity to let the broader audience understand more about engineering.






With turnout fueled by national issues and a hot United States Senate race, over 8.3 million voters came out for the state’s general election Tuesday. This was a historically high participation rate for a mid-term, dwarfing the 2014 turnout of 4.6 million voters and approached the 2016 election year turnout of nearly 9 million voters.

The top takeaway from the 2018 midterms is that although Texas continues to be a red (Republican) state, Democrats made strides on Tuesday to close the gap. Many Republican incumbents had to wait until the bitter end to see their political fate, including Sen. Ted Cruz, who eventually emerged victorious against Beto O’Rourke, receiving just under 51% of the vote. Although O’Rourke lost, his race seemed to have a significant effect for down-ballot races

The races in the U.S. House of Representatives were all tight down to the wire as well. Two long-serving Republican Congressmen in Pete Sessions (Dallas) and John Culberson (Houston) were defeated. With 8 incumbent members of Congress not seeking re-election, the U.S. House will now have 10 new members from the Texas delegation. Overall, Democrats gained two seats, bringing the makeup for 2019 to 23 Republicans and 12 Democrats.

All statewide elected officials were victorious on Tuesday; however, all margins of victory narrowed from previous compared to 2014 midterm results. Governor Greg Abbott won re-election receiving over 55% (2014 – 59%) of the vote against former Dallas County Sherriff Lupe Valdez. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, Comptroller Glenn Hegar, Land Commissioner George P. Bush, and Commissioner of Agriculture Sid Miller were all victorious in their re-election bids; all saw their margins of victory shrink 5-8 percentage points from 2014.

In Tarrant and Dallas Counties, Tea Party-oriented Republican Senators Konni Burton (Fort Worth) and Don Huffines (Dallas) lost their re-election bids in the Texas Senate. This will result in the Senate Republican-Democratic makeup now shifting from 21-10 to 19-12.

In the Texas House of Representatives, 8 Republican incumbents were defeated and 4 open seats that were formerly held by a Republican will now be held by a Democrat. The North Texas area was the epicenter for this shift, with Representatives Ron Simmons (Carrollton), Linda Koop (Richardson), Rodney Anderson (Irving), and Matt Rinaldi (Farmers Branch) all defeated by their Democratic challenger. Several other Republican incumbents who were victorious in the North Texas region only received just above 50% of the vote.

Other Republican loses included Reps. Tony Dale (R-Cedar Park), Gary Elkins (R-Houston), Mike Schofield (R-Houston), Paul Workman (R-Austin).

The four open seat losses were in former Rep. Jason Isaac’s seat in Central Texas, which was won by Democrat Erin Zweiner over Republican Ken Strange. Additionally, former Rep. Larry Gonzalez’s seat in Williamson County went to James Talarico (D) over Cynthia Flores (R), former Rep. Cindy Burkett’s seat in Garland was won by Rhetta Bowers (D) over Jonathan Boos (R), and former Rep. Jason Villalba’s seat in Dallas will now be held by John Turner (D) who was victorious over Lisa Luby Ryan (R).

Several long-serving Republican county judges were also swept out of office, most notably Ed Emmett in Harris County (who lost to newcomer Lina Hidalgo) and Bob Hebert in Fort Bend County (defeated by KP George). Many in Central Texas were also surprised when county commissioner Will Conley lost his bid for Hays County Judge to Ruben Becerra.


Key Takeaways from the 2018 General Election in Texas:

  • Speaker of the House: The 2019 Legislature makeup will consist of 83 Republicans and 67 Democrats. This means that the likelihood increases of having the next Speaker elected by a Republican-led bipartisan coalition. It takes 76 votes to be elected Speaker.
  • Democratic Headway: Democrats picked up 12 seats in the Texas House and 2 in the Senate. However, besides the Speaker of the House vote calculation, Republicans still hold a strong majority in the House and the Senate holds 19 seats, which is enough to bring legislation to the floor without any support from Democrats, and more than enough votes for the bill to pass.
  • Say Goodbye to Straight Party Ticket Voting: It can be concluded that several down-the-ballot races benefited from straight party ticket voting on Tuesday night. However, a bill was passed during the 2017 Legislative Session that will eliminate the straight-party ticket voting option starting in 2020. Could this change future race outcomes?
  • Keep Your Eye on the 2020 Elections: Even though the midterms did not produce a “blue wave” per se, the narrowing of margins in most races across the state will likely energize Democrats as we head for the 2020 election.


Local Propositions of Interest

Several local propositions were also on their November ballots. Once again, Texas citizens showed an extraordinary willingness to approve infrastructure investment that they feel is necessary to deal with growth. Below is a partial list of some of these:

Abilene ISD: Passed $138.7 million for school replacements, renovations, athletics, and a Career and Technology Center

Alvin ISD: Passed $480.5 million for new schools, school renovations, safety, security, and land acquisition.

City of Arlington: Passed $137.8 million for street improvements

City of Austin: Among other propositions, passed $184 million for flood mitigation, open space, and water quality protection and $160 million for transportation infrastructure

City of Corpus Christi: Passed $74 million in two propositions for streets

City of Duncanville: Passed $6.6 million for street improvements

City of Houston: Passed ReBuild Houston charter amendment to earmark (or re-earmark) funding for street and drainage improvements (this originally passed in 2010 but was challenged because of ballot language)

City of Hutto: Passed $70 million for street improvements and $50 million for parks and recreation facilities

City of Pilot Point: Passed $9 million in three propositions for public safety, streets, and drainage

City of Rockwall: Passed $50 million for law enforcement facilities

College of the Mainland: Passed $162.5 million for facilities

Collin County: Passed $740 million in two propositions for transportation

Corpus Christi ISD: Passed $210.8 million for school upgrades and replacements.

Fort Bend ISD: Passed $992.6 million for school buildings and equipment

Frisco ISD: Passed $691 million for school buildings and equipment

Pflugerville ISD: Passed $332 million for facilities.

Round Rock ISD: Passed $508.4 million for school district projects

Tarrant County: Passed $800 million for hospital district facilities

West Oso ISD: Passed $12 million for facilities



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