January 27, 2020

Republican with OT Edge Could Be Short-Term Lawmaker
as Texas Democrats Boost November Hit List Number to 22

By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor

Texas House Special
Elections Runoff Cash

Donations & Loans
Cash on Hand Jan 18

Gary Gates (R)
House District 28
Final Week: $2,000
Total Donations: $78,190
Campaign Loans: $1,526,100
Jan 18 Cash: $15,822
Eliz Markowitz (D)
House District 28
Final Week: $142,262
Total Donations: $869,822
Campaign Loans: $0
Jan 18 Cash: $82,130
Anna Eastman (D)
House District 148
Final Week: $0
Total Donations: $199,463
Campaign Loans: $0
Jan 18 Cash: $10,032
Lorraine Birabil (D)
House District 100
Final Week: $17,000
Total Donations: $200,685
Campaign Loans: $0
Jan 18 Cash: $18,598
Luis La Rotta (R)
House District 100
Final Week: $4,000
Total Donations: $47,632
Campaign Loans: $0
Jan 18 Cash: $12,663
James Armstrong (D)
House District 100
Final Week: $5,000
Total Donations: $40,335
Campaign Loans: $6,000
Jan 18 Cash: $3,000

Source: Texas
Ethics Commission




Texas Democrats added a half-dozen more state House seats to their 2020 target list on Monday on the eve of a special runoff election that a Republican has the best shot on paper to win as the first test in the competition for a chamber that has the potential to go blue this fall.

As the Texas Democratic Party and the House Democratic Campaign Committee ramped up the number of targeted contests on the lower chamber battlefield to 22, Republican Gary Gates appeared to be the betting favorite in an overtime duel in a special Houston-area election that voters will decide on Tuesday.

But the Capitol Inside crystal ball that foresees a Gates win in the special vote has a rematch victory by Democrat Eliz Markowitz in the early forecast for November when the Democratic turnout in Texas will be astronomical in House District 28 and other suburban areas around the state.

A Markowitz triumph in the general election after a loss this week would relegate Gates to a list of former Texas lawmakers who were quickly forgotten after never casting a vote in a legislative session. Laura Thompson was the last House member to accomplish such a feat after winning a special runoff election as an independent candidate in 2016 in San Antonio where one of the Democrats' current incumbents ousted her three months later.

The outlook here has Democrats Lorraine Birabil of Dallas and Anna Eastman of Houston destined for blowout victories on Tuesday in special House election runoffs in heavily-Democratic districts that won't be in play in November.

Birabil, who's squaring off with Dallas Democrat James Armstrong in OT in House District 100 this week, will most likely be favored to hold the seat in the March 3 primary election when a handful of other Democrats will be taking aim at her. Birabil led a pack of five initial Democratic contenders with 33 percent of the special HD 100 vote in November when Armstrong advanced to overtime with less than 21 percent.

But Eastman could be more vulnerable in a Democratic primary field that features four foes as a white woman in a district where two-thirds of the residents are Hispanic. After leading Republican Luis La Rotta by a mere four points in a crowded initial field in the initial special election in House District 148, Eastman can expect to increase her victory margin considerably in round two on Tuesday.

The special House elections that Birabil and Eastman are poised to win at the runoff polls this week have been shoved out of the spotlight by the HD overtime showdown in the Fort Bend County district where Markowitz finished first last fall with 39 percent of the vote as the only Democrat in a field that had been packed with Republicans. Gates qualified for the runoff with 28 percent of the first round vote.

With Democrats across the United States pouring unprecedented sums into the HD 28 fight, Markowitz is leaving fundraising records shattered in her wake in a once-solid red district where she's reported almost $880,000 from contributors in her debut campaign.

But Gates has enjoyed a massive war chest advantage nonetheless after loaning his campaign more than $1.5 million that he's topped off with $78,000 that he's raised from donors with a third of that amount coming from Governor Greg Abbott this month.

Eastman has generated more than $199,000 from contributors while Birabil had rounded up almost $158,000 heading into Tuesday's overtime vote. La Rotta and Amstrong in the meantime have reported contributions of $48,000 and $40,000 respectively in their bids for the House in special elections that will be decided on Tuesday.


Copyright 2003-2020 Capitol Inside