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Stories about Texas

Voters to decide runoff election in Texas’ 6th Congressional District on July 27

Texas’ 6th Congressional District will hold a special election runoff on July 27. Jake Ellzey (R) and Susan Wright (R) are running to fill the vacancy left by Rep. Ronald Wright (R), who died from COVID-19 related complications on Feb. 7. The district is located in the northeastern portion of the state and includes Ellis and Navarro counties and an area of Tarrant County.

Susan Wright is Ronald Wright’s widow. Former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed her on April 26. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) endorsed Ellzey.

Since both runoff candidates are Republicans, the seat will not change party hands as a result of the election. The two advanced from a 23-candidate special election on May 1. Wright received 19.2% of the vote while Ellzey received 13.8% of the vote.

Three special elections to the 117th Congress have taken place so far in 2021. The election in Texas’ 6th is one of four more currently scheduled.



Texas House speaker removes Democrat who left state from leadership position

Texas House of Representatives Speaker Dade Phelan (R) announced the removal of Joseph Moody (D) from Moody’s position as speaker pro tem of the chamber on July 15. The speaker pro tem performs the duties of the speaker in his or her absence. Moody had served in the position for two sessions. Moody was one of the Democratic legislators who left the state earlier in the week causing the chamber to no longer have a quorum.

On July 12, enough members of the chamber’s Democratic caucus left the state during consideration of House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 1 to break quorum. The bills being considered were packages of voting-related legislation. Democratic legislators also walked out over similar legislation ahead of the close of the regular session on May 30, causing Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to call a special session for reconsideration.

Phelan did not issue a statement but said the removal was effective immediately. Moody issued the following statement: “The most important titles in my life will never change: Dad, Husband, El Pasoan. Nothing political has ever even cracked the top three, so nothing has changed about who I am or what my values are.”

The Texas Tribune said Moody was “one of Phelan’s top allies in the Democratic Party,” citing their work together on bills relating to the state’s criminal justice system.



Democratic state representatives in Texas leave state ahead of expected vote on voting-related legislation

On July 12, 2021, at least 51 of the 67 Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives (the number needed to break quorum) left the state for Washington D.C. ahead of expected votes on House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 1. The bills being considered are voting-related legislation including provisions related to early voting, elections officers, voter registration, and voting systems. At 10 a.m. on Tuesday, July 13, the House conducted a test vote that 80 of the 150 House members participated in, four of whom were Democrats.

Texas House Democratic Caucus Chairman Chris Turner, Mexican American Legislative Caucus Chairman Rafael Anchía (D), Texas Legislative Black Caucus Chairwoman Nicole Collier (D), Legislative Study Group Caucus Chairman Garnet Coleman (D), and Dean Senfronia Thompson (D) released a joint statement on the decision to break quorum and go to Washington D.C. saying, “Today, Texas House Democrats stand united in our decision to break quorum and refuse to let the Republican-led legislature force through dangerous legislation that would trample on Texans’ freedom to vote. We are now taking the fight to our nation’s Capitol. We are living on borrowed time in Texas. We need Congress to act now to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act to protect Texans — and all Americans — from the Trump Republicans’ nationwide war on democracy.”

Governor Greg Abbott (R) responded to the walkout saying in a statement, “Texas Democrats’ decision to break a quorum of the Texas Legislature and abandon the Texas State Capitol inflicts harm on the very Texans who elected them to serve,” and that, “the Democrats must put aside partisan political games and get back to the job they were elected to do. Their constituents must not be denied these important resources simply because their elected representative refused to show up to work.”

The Texas House of Representatives requires that two-thirds of the body be present for a quorum. Democrats control 67 of the 150 House seats. This is the second walkout House Democrats have held in 2021; the first took place on May 30, when all 67 members of the Democratic caucus left the chamber during consideration of another package of voting-related legislation, Senate Bill 7. Legislators left the chamber around 10:30 p.m., leaving it without a quorum ahead of a midnight deadline for passing legislation for the session. The walkout came following a meeting between the Democratic caucus and Speaker Dade Phelan (R). Following the closure of the regular session, Gov. Abbott called a special session beginning on July 8 and lasting for up to 30 days, to take up the legislation again.

The last time there was a walkout of the Texas legislature before 2021 was in 2003 when 11 Democratic members of the Texas State Senate and 51 Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives did not come to a scheduled legislative session to prevent the passage of a redistricting plan they claimed would have benefited Republicans. That walkout lasted for 43 days and ended when state Sen. John Whitmire (D) returned to the chamber and a quorum was reached.

There have been six other noteworthy legislative walkouts since 2000 (noteworthy walkouts are those where legislators left the state for at least a week or received significant national media attention). Four of the walkouts occurred in Oregon (2021, 2020, 2019, and 2001); one in Indiana (2011), and one in Wisconsin (2011).

The Oregon walkouts focused on proposals related to COVID-19 (2021), a bill to cap greenhouse gas emissions (2020), a cap-and-trade bill (2019), and a Congressional redistricting plan (2001). Three were conducted by Republican state senators (2021, 2020, 2019), and one by Democratic state representatives (2001). The walkouts were resolved by killing the contested legislation in 2020, 2019, and 2001; and by legislators returning to the chamber in 2021.

In 2011, walkouts over right-to-work legislation occurred in Indiana and Wisconsin. The Indiana walkout included 37 Democratic members of the House who did not attend a scheduled legislative session to prevent passage of the legislation, and ended after six weeks when the legislation was killed. The Wisconsin walkout involved 14 Democratic members of the Wisconsin State Senate who did not come to a scheduled legislative session to prevent passage of the legislation and ended after five weeks when Republicans removed fiscal provisions from the right-to-work legislation, lowering the quorum required to hold a vote. The Democrats returned three days after the legislation passed.

Noteworthy state legislative walkouts 

Click here to read House Bill 3.

Click here to read Senate Bill 1.

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Preview: Upcoming special congressional elections

Image of several stickers with the words "I voted"

Three special elections for the U.S. House will take place within the next month: a runoff election for Texas’ 6th Congressional District on July 27 and primaries in Ohio’s 11th and 15th congressional districts on Aug. 3.

Texas’ 6th

The July 27 runoff in Texas features Republicans Jake Ellzey and Susan Wright. The two advanced from a 23-candidate special general election on May 1, where Wright received 19% of the vote to Ellzey’s 14%.

The previous incumbent, Ronald Wright (R), died from complications related to COVID-19 on Feb. 7. Susan Wright is his widow. She served as district director for state Reps. Bill Zedler (R) and David Cook (R). Ellzey is a state representative, first elected in 2020. In 2018, he ran against Ronald Wright in the 6th Congressional District Republican primary, losing in the primary runoff with 48% to Wright’s 52%. 

The Club for Growth has spent more than $500,000 supporting Wright and opposing Ellzey in the special election. Former President Donald Trump endorsed Wright. Ellzey’s supporters include former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and the Texas Farm Bureau AGFUND.

Ohio’s 11th

President Joe Biden (D) appointed former incumbent Marcia Fudge (D) secretary of housing and urban development, leaving this seat vacant. Inside Elections rates the Nov. 2 general election Solid Democratic. Of the 13 candidates in the Democratic primary, Shontel Brown and Nina Turner have led in fundraising, endorsements, and media attention.

Brown is a member of the Cuyahoga County Council and chairwoman of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party. Hillary Clinton (D) endorsed her. Turner was a state senator and co-chaired Bernie Sanders’ (I) 2020 presidential primary campaign. Sanders endorsed Turner.

Ohio’s 15th

Former Rep. Steve Stivers (R) resigned in May to become CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. Inside Elections rates the Nov. 2 general election Solid Republican. Eleven candidates are running in the Aug. 3 special Republican primary.

Stivers endorsed Jeff LaRe, a state representative since 2019. LaRe also has a background in law enforcement. Trump endorsed Mike Carey, who served in the Army National Guard. Bob Peterson is a state senator and former president of the Ohio Farm Bureau. The Ohio Right to Life PAC endorsed him.

Seven special elections have been called during the 117th Congress so far. From the 113th Congress to the 116th Congress, 50 special elections were held. 



Texas Supreme Court justice resigns, creates midterm vacancy

Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman retired from her seat on the state’s highest court effective Friday, June 11. Her resignation letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) did not provide a reason for her departure. Guzman’s replacement will be Gov. Abbott’s fifth nominee to the nine-member supreme court.

Under Texas law, in the event of a midterm vacancy, the governor appoints a replacement. The Texas State Senate must then confirm the nominee. Appointees serve until the next general election, in which he or she must participate in a partisan election to remain on the bench for the remainder of the unexpired term.

Guzman joined the Texas Supreme Court in 2009. She was appointed by former Gov. Rick Perry (R).

Guzman was the first Hispanic woman appointed to the state’s highest court. Upon winning election to the seat in 2010, she became the first Hispanic woman elected to statewide office in Texas. Prior to her appointment to the supreme court, Guzman served as a district judge for Texas’ 309th District Court and as an appellate judge for Texas’ Fourteenth Court of Appeals. She practiced law as a litigator in Houston before becoming a judge. Guzman earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston, a J.D. from the South Texas College of Law, and an LL.M. from Duke University School of Law.

Following Guzman’s retirement, the Texas Supreme Court includes the following members:

• Nathan Hecht, appointed by Perry in 2013

• Jimmy Blacklock, appointed by Abbott in 2018

• Debra Lehrmann, appointed by Perry in 2010

• John Devine, elected in 2012

• Rebeca Huddle, appointed by Abbott in 2020

• Jane Bland, appointed by Abbott in 2019

• Jeffrey S. Boyd, appointed by Perry in 2012

• Brett Busby, appointed by Abbott in 2019

All current members of the court identify as Republicans.

In 2021, there have been 13 supreme court vacancies in 11 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. The vacancies have been caused by retirements.

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Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman resigns

Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman resigned on June 11, 2021. Guzman’s replacement will be Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) fifth nominee to the nine-member supreme court. At the time of Guzman’s resignation, all nine judges on the court identified with the Republican party. 

Guzman was appointed to the court by Gov. Rick Perry (R) in 2009. She was elected to a full term in 2010, becoming the first Latina woman elected to statewide office in Texas. Guzman was re-elected in 2016, defeating Democrat Savannah Robinson, 56% to 39%.

Before she was appointed to the state supreme court, Guzman served as a district judge for Texas’ 309th District Court and as an appellate judge for Texas’ Fourteenth Court of Appeals.

The Texas Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort for civil matters and has nine judgeships. Under Texas law, in the event of a midterm vacancy, the governor appoints a replacement. The appointment is subject to confirmation from the Texas State Senate. Once confirmed, the judge will serve until the next general election, at which point they must run in a partisan election to remain on the bench for the rest of the unexpired term.

In 2021, there have been 13 supreme court vacancies in 11 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected.

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Two incumbents lose re-election bids in Fort Worth City Council runoffs

The general runoff election for the Fort Worth City Council in Texas was held on June 5. The general election was held on May 1, and the filing deadline to run passed on Feb. 21. Races for City Council Districts 6, 7, 8, and 9 were decided in the runoff.

Both incumbents who ran in the runoff election lost their seats. Jungus Jordan lost his District 6 seat to Jared Williams, and Kelly Allen Gray lost her District 8 seat to Chris Nettles. Leonard Firestone won District 7, and Elizabeth Beck won District 9. 

Jared Williams completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey before the runoff. In it, Williams said that he “will be laser-focused on building a just and prosperous Fort Worth by growing strong jobs, affordable housing for our workforce and communities where families have access to safe neighborhoods, excellent public education and 21st century City services.”

All eight city council seats, as well as the mayor’s office, were up for election in 2021. In the general election, incumbent Carlos Flores won re-election in District 2, newcomer Michael Crain won in District 3, incumbent Cary Moon won re-election in District 4, and incumbent Gyna Bivens won re-election in District 5.

In 2019, all Fort Worth City Council incumbents were re-elected to their seats in the May 4 general election. A total of 38,798 votes were cast in the 2019 mayoral race.

In 2017, the District 3 incumbent lost re-election, and the District 2 incumbent chose not to run. The vote totals in 2017 were lower than those seen in 2019 with 33,038 votes cast in the mayoral election.

The 2021 elections saw an increase in voter turnout, with total votes in the general election equalling 66,519 and total votes in the runoff coming to 88,295.

Outside of Fort Worth, there have been six city council elections in the top 100 cities in Texas thus far in 2021.

  • In Arlington, two incumbents ran for re-election, and both won their respective districts.
  • In Dallas, incumbents ran in 11 of the 14 city council races. Eight incumbents won re-election in the May 1 general election. In the June 5 runoff, two incumbents won re-election in the runoff election, and one was defeated.
  • The San Antonio City Council election saw eight of the 10 incumbents run for re-election. One incumbent won and two lost in the June 5 runoff election. The other five won re-election in the general election on May 1.
  • Plano City Council had four council members up for election. Three incumbents ran for election and won. The fourth seat was up for special election and did not have an incumbent.
  • Irving City Council had three seats up for re-election. Incumbents ran in all three races. Two of them won re-election, and one was defeated.
  • Garland City Council saw three incumbents run unopposed. District 1 and District 3 did not have an incumbent in the race.

Nationwide, 282 city council seats were up for re-election in the top 100 cities in 2019. Of the 196 incumbents who ran for re-election, 12.8% were defeated. Between 2014 and 2020, an average of 12.9% of city council incumbents were defeated nationwide.

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Two incumbents lose re-election bids in Fort Worth City Council runoffs

The general runoff election for the Fort Worth City Council in Texas was held on June 5. The general election was held on May 1, and the filing deadline to run passed on Feb. 21. Races for City Council Districts 6, 7, 8, and 9 were decided in the runoff.

Both incumbents who ran in the runoff election lost their seats. Jungus Jordan lost his District 6 seat to Jared Williams, and Kelly Allen Gray lost her District 8 seat to Chris Nettles. Leonard Firestone won District 7, and Elizabeth Beck won District 9. 

Jared Williams completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey before the runoff. In it, Williams said that he “will be laser-focused on building a just and prosperous Fort Worth by growing strong jobs, affordable housing for our workforce and communities where families have access to safe neighborhoods, excellent public education and 21st century City services.”

All eight city council seats, as well as the mayor’s office, were up for election in 2021. In the general election, incumbent Carlos Flores won re-election in District 2, newcomer Michael Crain won in District 3, incumbent Cary Moon won re-election in District 4, and incumbent Gyna Bivens won re-election in District 5.

In 2019, all Fort Worth City Council incumbents were re-elected to their seats in the May 4 general election. A total of 38,798 votes were cast in the 2019 mayoral race.

In 2017, the District 3 incumbent lost re-election, and the District 2 incumbent chose not to run. The vote totals in 2017 were lower than those seen in 2019 with 33,038 votes cast in the mayoral election.

The 2021 elections saw an increase in voter turnout, with total votes in the general election equalling 66,519 and total votes in the runoff coming to 88,295.

Outside of Fort Worth, there have been six city council elections in the top 100 cities in Texas thus far in 2021.

  • In Arlington, two incumbents ran for re-election, and both won their respective districts.
  • In Dallas, incumbents ran in 11 of the 14 city council races. Eight incumbents won re-election in the May 1 general election. In the June 5 runoff, two incumbents won re-election in the runoff election, and one was defeated.
  • The San Antonio City Council election saw eight of the 10 incumbents run for re-election. One incumbent won and two lost in the June 5 runoff election. The other five won re-election in the general election on May 1.
  • Plano City Council had four council members up for election. Three incumbents ran for election and won. The fourth seat was up for special election and did not have an incumbent.
  • Irving City Council had three seats up for re-election. Incumbents ran in all three races. Two of them won re-election, and one was defeated.
  • Garland City Council saw three incumbents run unopposed. District 1 and District 3 did not have an incumbent in the race.

Nationwide, 282 city council seats were up for re-election in the top 100 cities in 2019. Of the 196 incumbents who ran for re-election, 12.8% were defeated. Between 2014 and 2020, an average of 12.9% of city council incumbents were defeated nationwide.

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Mattie Parker defeats Deborah Peoples in Fort Worth mayoral runoff election

Mattie Parker defeated Deborah Peoples in the Fort Worth mayoral runoff election on June 5, 2021. Parker received 54% of the vote to Peoples’ 46%. Parker and Peoples advanced to the runoff from the general election on May 1, 2021. Incumbent Mayor Betsy Price (R) did not run for re-election.

Prior to the election, Parker worked in education and as the chief of staff for the Fort Worth Mayor and City Council. She received endorsements from incumbent Mayor Price, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), and the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram.

Price was first elected in 2011, and then re-elected in 2015 and 2019. In 2019, Price won with 56% of the vote, and Peoples was the runner-up with 42%. Prior to Price’s 2011 win, Fort Worth had not elected an openly Republican mayor in twenty years. In the 2020 and 2016 presidential elections, Joe Biden (D) and Hillary Clinton (D) won the city with 52% and 56% of the vote, respectively.

Heading into 2021, the mayors of 25 of the country’s 100 largest cities, including Fort Worth were affiliated with the Republican Party. The mayors of 64 of the 100 largest cities were affiliated with the Democratic Party.

To read more about the mayoral runoff election in Fort Worth, click here:

To read more about city election in Fort Worth, click here:



Jim Ross defeats Michael Glaspie in mayoral runoff election in Arlington, Texas

Attorney Jim Ross defeated former city councilor Michael Glaspie in the general election runoff for mayor of Arlington, Texas, on June 5, 2021. Ross received 54.4% of the vote to Glaspie’s 45.6%. This was the first mayoral election in Arlington since 2003 without an incumbent on the ballot. Mayor Jeff Williams (R) was term-limited and unable to seek re-election.

Ross received an early endorsement from Williams and described his campaign as a continuation of the incumbent’s tenure. On his campaign website, Ross wrote, “as Mayor Williams approaches the end of his last term in office, the big question is, ‘Where do we go from here?’ The answer is simple, FORWARD!”

Before entering the election, Ross owned a law firm and Mercury Chophouse, a local restaurant. He previously worked as a police officer with the Arlington Police Department and served on the board of directors for the Arlington Police Foundation. In addition to his endorsement from Williams, Ross received endorsements from Arlington’s four police unions.