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NE Texas GOP Legislators Win Easy Victories

Bob Hall won 59 percent of votes and will once again represent Texas Senate District 2.
Bob Hall won 59 percent of votes and will once again represent Texas Senate District 2.

To no one’s surprise, Northeast Texas will have Republican representation in the 2019 Texas Legislature. Incumbent GOP lawmakers rolled to victory across the region. However, Democrats elsewhere in the state did chip away at Republican majorities in both the Texas Senate and the Texas House of Representatives.

Republicans barely retain ‘super majority’ in Senate

Incumbent Republican Bob Hall (Senate-2) earned 59.4 percent of the vote (152, 659) to defeat Democrat Kendall Scudder (40.6 percent; 104,528). Senate District 2 is composed of Delta, Fannin, Hopkins, Hunt, Kaufman, Rains, Rockwall, Van Zandt and parts of Dallas counties.

In Senate District 30, a sprawling jurisdiction that stretches from eastern Collin County to the Wichita Falls area, Republican Pat Fallon (73.7 percent of votes; 228,181) bested Democrat Kevin Lopez (26.3 percent; 81,466). Fallon will replace retired Republican Craig Estes in the senior chamber.

Elsewhere, two Dallas-Fort Worth districts flipped to Democrats. In Dallas, Democrat Nathan Johnson (54.1 percent of votes) defeated incumbent Republican Don Huffines in a highly publicized District 16 contest. In suburban Fort Worth, incumbent Republican Konni Burton was ousted by Democratic challenger Beverly Powell (51.7 of votes).

When lawmakers return to the capitol in January, Republicans will own a 19-to-12 majority in the Senate. That margin is just enough to put bills to a vote without any Democratic support. In the Texas Legislature, three-fifths of the Senate is required to advance a measure to the Senate floor. The rule used to require two-thirds of state senators, but Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick led a 2015 initiative to lower the threshold to three-fifths.

Flynn, Smith, Hefner win House races convincingly

In the Texas House, Democrats picked up 12 districts statewide, but Republicans in rural Northeast Texas coasted to easy victories, usually with more than three-fourths of votes cast.

Dan Flynn, the incumbent Republican in House District 2, picked up 80 percent of the vote (45,808) to defeat Democrat Bill Brannon (20 percent; 11.421). Flynn’s district represents Hopkins, Hunt and Van Zandt counties.

District 62 (Delta, Fannin, and Grayson counties) will have a new state representative to replace retired Republican Larry Phillips. Republican Reggie Smith (76.2 percent of votes; 41,899) cruised past Democrat Valerie Hefner (21.9 percent; 12,047) and Libertarian David Schaab (1.9 percent, 1,071) to earn the District 62 seat.

Incumbent Republican Cole Hefner (House-5) totaled 79.3 percent of votes (44,264) to defeat Democrat Bill Liebbe (20.7 percent, 11,540) to win that district, composed of Rains, Wood and other counties to the east. In District 4 (Kaufman and Henderson counties), Republican Keith Bell will replace fellow GOPer Lance Gooden, who will move on to represent the Texas 5th Congressional District in Washington. Bell picked up 74 percent of the vote to defeat Democrat Eston Williams and Libertarian Allen Miller.

Gary Van Deaver (House-1) ran for re-election unopposed. The Republican’s district includes Bowie, Franklin, Lamar, and Red River counties.

In Northeast Texas’ suburban Dallas-area districts, GOP margins were not quite as dramatic, but still comfortable. Incumbent Republican Justin Holland (House-33) defeated Democrat Laura Gunn by a 65 percent to 35 percent margin. That district includes Rockwall and parts of Collin counties. Another incumbent Republican, Scott Sanford (R-70) picked up 62 percent of votes to earn a vitory over Democrat Julie Luton in that Collin County district. And in House District 89, another Collin County district, retiring Republican Jodie Laubenberg will be replaced by Republican Candy Noble, who totaled 60 percent of votes in her victory over Democrat Ray Ash.

Statewide, Texas Republicans will have an 83-67 advantage over Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives. That margin reflects 12 districts that flipped from Republican to Democrat in the 2018 elections. Democratic challengers defeated Republican incumbents in six Dallas-Fort Worth districts, four Central Texas districts, and two Houston-area districts.



Mark Haslett has served at KETR since 2013. Since then, the station's news operation has enjoyed an increase in listener engagement and audience metrics, as well recognition in the Texas AP Broadcasters awards.