January 28, 2020

Seventh Time Looks Like the Charm for Republican Gary Gates
as Heavy Favorites Cruise to Easy Wins in Democratic Districts

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: $151,018
Total Donations: $878,583
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: $164,985
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




GOP partisans breathed a sign of collective relief on Tuesday night with Republican Gary Gates on track for an overtime win in a special Texas House election in the Houston area where the Democrats will get a second shot in November.

Democrats Lorraine Birabil of Dallas and Anna Eastman of Houston locked up House seats in two other special runoff elections after lapping a pair of prohibitive underdogs with more than two-thirds of the vote in districts that are Democratic strongholds.

Gates - a Rosenberg Republican who'd fallen short in six previous bids for state offices - was poised to snap a long losing streak after claiming almost 59 percent of the early vote in the special runoff election in House District 28 where his share of support changed little as the unofficial returns were tallied.

Democrats had hoped a win in OT in the Fort Bend County district that the Republicans have long controlled would be an ideal springboard in a quest to take the lower chamber at the ballot box this year.

But Katy Democrat Eliz Markowitz's odds for a monumental upset in the runoff as the first-round leader evaporated in the face of the massive money advantage that Gates had after fueling his campaign with more than $1.5 million in personal funds that he'd loaned to it.

Gates has two more hurdles that he must overcome before he ever casts a vote as a legislator with Republican Schell Hammell as a March primary rival and Markowitz waiting in the wings for a general election rematch this fall as the lone Democrat on the fall ballot in HD 28.

Birabil - contrary to initial reports from Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs' office - was crushing Democratic rival James Armstrong with nearly 68 percent of the runoff vote in a bid to replace Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson in House District 100. Johnson represented the district that's anchored in the heart of Dallas for nine years before a promotion to the local post in 2019.

The state's top election official showed Armstrong out in front for an hour or so after the runoff polls shut down with the exact number of votes that Birabill actually had based on the Harris County elections office. Birabill had emerged from the first election in November with 33 percent of the special HD 100 vote in a district where Armstrong passed a separate Democratic foe at the finish line en route to the runoff with less than 21 percent. The names were eventually reversed to correctly reflect the commanding lead that Birabil had enjoyed since the early votes were counted.

Eastman never looked back en route to her election to the House in the runoff with more than 65 percent of the vote in a win in a district where GOP foe Luis La Rotta was never a serious threat. But Eastman has no guarantees that she'll be a member of the Legislature when the 2012 regular session convenes as an incumbent who's white in a district where she's facing several Hispanic rivals in the March primary election. Democrat Jessica Farrar represented for two dozen years before stepping down last fall.

Gates had trailed Markowitz by 11 percentage points in the initial vote in November in the special election to replace Republican John Zerwas in the west wing of the Capitol. But Gates had a much easier road to victory in round two after a handful of other Republicans were eliminated in the opening round of the special HD 28 contest.

Gates had run without success in a half-dozen previous campaigns for the Texas House and Senate and statewide office in Texas before getting into position for a fortunes change when he advanced to OT with 28 percent of the November vote. Markowitz had given Democrats hopes for a monumental upset after leading in the initial balloting almost three months ago with 39 percent.

more to come ...


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