Nov 04, 2020

Republicans Dominate Elections in Central Texas

Reporting Texas

Smith County registered voters wait in line to cast their ballots at R.B. Hubbard Center on Oct. 15, 2020, in Tyler, Texas. Reporting Texas photographer Chloe Bertrand, who is working remotely in East Texas, captured this line outside of “The Hub”, one of seven polling locations in the county. Chloe Bertrand/Reporting Texas

While some states expect that it may take several days to determine election winners, most Texas votes have been counted. Some experts labeled Texas as a toss-up in the presidential election, with most polls showing a 2-4 point lead for Donald Trump. Trump outperformed those expectations, winning by closer to 6 points.

Other races included a U.S. Senate race won easily by GOP incumbent U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and several Central Texas congressional races where Republicans won comfortably. Additionally, Travis County residents approved two propositions, including  Project Connect, a $7.1 billion transportation bond.

U.S. Senate 

Incumbent John Cornyn secured reelection as United States Senator from Texas. The race was not as tight as some observers predicted. With more than 93% of votes counted on Wednesday morning, Cornyn led by almost 10 percentage points.

Texans elected Cornyn to the U.S. Senate in 2002. He was the GOP Senate majority whip from 2013-2017. He previously served as Texas Attorney General. 

Cornyn’s next election will be in 2026. Cornyn’s counterpart, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, is up for reelection in 2024.

U.S. House 

District 31 — Carter wins 10th term

John Carter, a Republican from Round Rock, won his 10th term representing the 31st Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

As of Wednesday morning, Carter had 53.5% of the vote to 44.3% for Donna Imam, his Democratic challenger. Libertarian candidate Clark Patterson took 2.2%. 

The district was seen as a potential Democratic target due to Carter’s narrow win over Democratic candidate Mary “M.J.” Hegar in 2018.

Before his election to the U.S. House in 2003, Carter sat on Williamson County’s district court bench for more than 20 years.

“From the bottom of my heart, thank you TX-31. Central Texas is the greatest place on earth, and I am incredibly honored to represent you in Congress,” Carter said in a statement to KXAN

District 31 stretches from Austin’s northern suburbs to north of Killeen and Temple.

—Madelyn Gee

District 17 — Sessions returns to U.S. House with big win

The Cook Political Report deemed the race for Texas’s 17th Congressional District  “Solid Republican,” and its assessment proved correct.

Pete Sessions, a Republican, will succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, a Republican. As of Wednesday morning, Sessions had 55.9% of the vote to 40.9% for Democratic rival Rick Kennedy, with 91% of the vote counted. Libertarian Ted Brown got 3.2 %. 

Sessions had served in the House of Representatives for 11 terms before losing his bid for re-election in the 32nd district in 2018 to Collin Allred. 

Kennedy also ran for the seat in 2018, earning 41.3% of the vote. 

Flores had announced that he would not seek re-election in 2019 to focus on family and business interests.  

— Benton Graham

District 21 — Roy wins second term

Republican incumbent Chip Roy won re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas’s 21st Congressional District. He beat Democratic opponent Wendy Davis by more than 30,000 votes. 

As of Wednesday morning, Roy had 52.1%  of the votes to Davis’ 45.2%. Libertarian Arthur DiBianca had 1.9 percent, and Green Party candidate Tommy Wakely had the remaining 0.8 percent.

Before winning the seat in 2018, Roy served as chief of staff for Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and as staff director for Texas’s other Republican senator, John Cornyn. 

Davis, a former Texas state senator from Fort Worth, ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2014 against Greg Abbott. She later moved to Central Texas.

The 21st Congressional District covers the Hill Country between San Antonio and Austin as well as a swath of Hays and Travis counties.

— Jillian Price

District 25 — Williams retains seat in replay of 2016

Incumbent Republican Roger Williams officially secured his reelection as representative of the 25th Congressional District of Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives, swamping Democrat Julie Oliver.

As of Wednesday morning, Williams had 56% of the vote to Oliver’s 42%. Libertarian Party candidate Bill Kelsey had the remaining 2%. 

Williams, a car dealer from Fort Worth, opposes tax increases, supports gun rights and objects to the Austin City Council’s decision to cut police funding. 

Although Oliver, an Austin lawyer, seemed to gain momentum over the last months of the campaign and was part of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Red to Blue program, she fell short by almost 55,000 votes. 

In 2018, Williams beat Oliver with 54% of the vote. Williams, 71, was first elected to Congress in 2012. 

The 25th Congressional District stretches from Hayes County north through West Austin to Tarrant County.

—Madi Donham

District 10 — McCaul wins ninth term in House

Republican Michael McCaul won a ninth term in the U.S. House in the 10th Congressional District. 

With over 98% of the vote counted, McCaul, who has held the seat since 2004, was re-elected with 52.5% of the vote against Democratic opponent Mike Siegel’s 45.3%. Libertarian Roy Eriksen took the remaining 2.2%.

“Regardless of tonight’s results, we showed that deep in the heart of Texas a progressive movement is rising,” Siegel said in a concession statement Tuesday night.

McCaul is the fifth-wealthiest member of Congress with a reported net worth of $113 million, most of which was inherited from his father-in-law, who founded what is now known as iHeartMedia, the largest radio station owner in the country.

The 10th District stretches from north Greater Austin to West Harris County, with the rural counties in between soundly leaning Republican.

— Ram Rodríguez

District 35 — Doggett elected in landslide

Democrat Lloyd Doggett won reelection in Texas’s 35th district by a landslide with close to 65% of the vote. Doggett , who has served in Congress since 1995, defeated Republican opponent and Trump-supporter Jenny Garcia Sharon.

Texas 35th Congressional District stretches from Austin to San Antonio.

 —Mizelle Mayo

Ballot measures

Proposition A — Project Connect passes in Austin

Proposition A passed with a 57.9% majority, avoiding another rail fail in Austin. Also known as Project Connect, the proposal earmarks $7.1 billion to construct intra-city light rail and to make other improvements to the city’s transportation system. 

Supporters argued that it was now or never for a robust transit system in Austin before road traffic and population swell beyond manageable levels. Critics called the measure too expensive — it will raise property taxes by 8.75 cents per $100 of property value — and questioned the idea of raising taxes during a pandemic.

Proposition B passes with overwhelming support

Proposition B also passed. The measure would channel $460 million in general obligation bonds to improve infrastructure such as sidewalks, urban trails, bikeways and Austin landmarks such as Longhorn Dam.

Eclipsed in media attention by Proposition A, Proposition B passed with a 67.1% majority.

Fiscal Year 2021 property tax rates will not be affected by the measure. Increased property tax rates will be phased in and fully imposed in 2026, when the resulting tax will be 0.02% of home value.