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With Runoffs In Rear View, The Table Is (Mostly) Set For November’s Election

LM Otero
Associated Press
Amid concerns of the spread of COVID-19, a voter chooses candidates at a polling station Tuesday in Richardson, Texas.

The headlines are pretty clear:

  • MJ Hegar got past Dallas state senator Royce West in the Democratic runoff and now sets her sights on U.S. Senator John Cornyn this fall.
  • Some familiar Republican names look likely to take Congressional seats in November — former White House doctor Ronny Jackson in the Panhandle and former Dallas congressman Pete Sessions in Waco.
  • Democrat Candace Valenzuela had a comfortable win in the North Texas suburbs. She and former Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne will face off in Congressional District 24.
  • At least three incumbent state legislators were voted out.

Here are some other threads to follow heading into the general election:
Gonzales And Reyes Likely Headed For A Recount In The Rio Grande Valley

President Trump’s favored candidate, Tony Gonzales, has a seven-vote lead, although his opponent Raul Reyes wants all provisional and overseas ballots counted. 

“This race isn’t over until every legal vote is counted,” he wrote on Facebook.

A recount looks likely because the margin will probably stay pretty small. The person with fewer votes can request a recount if the margin between the two candidates is under 10% of the number of votes gathered by the person in the lead.

Democrats Will Need To Prove They Can Win On A Large Scale

Aside from statewide races for president and U.S. Senate, there are between five and nine U.S. House seats that can be considered competitive, depending on how you define competitive. Three of those districts saw the GOP incumbents retire. So there is an opportunity for the Democrats to flip at least a few seats, although Republicans in Texas have proved they can turn out their voters. 

“How is the Democratic Party trying to register voters? What groups is it working with to register voters? What is the mobilization looking like?” said Juan Carlos Huerta, political science professor at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. “Mobilization makes a big difference.”

Both parties, of course, are working under the unusual conditions of social distancing during a pandemic.

The Texas House Is A Major Prize

All 150 seats in the Texas House of Representatives are up for re-election in the fall, although some candidates are running unopposed. Democrats are targeting 22 seats to flip, and need to win nine to get control of the chamber.

If they gain control of the House, Democrats will have a say in the redistricting process next year.

Got a tip? Email Bret Jaspers at You can follow Bret on Twitter @bretjaspers.

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Bret Jaspers is a reporter for KERA. His stories have aired nationally on the BBC, NPR’s newsmagazines, and APM’s Marketplace. He collaborated on the series Cash Flows, which won a 2020 Sigma Delta Chi award for Radio Investigative Reporting. He's a member of Actors' Equity, the professional stage actors union.