As promised, I have some thoughts to share on the election outcome.
Of course, the presidential election is still undecided, but trending towards former Vice President Joe Biden as of Friday morning. Regardless of your political views or your opinion on President Trump, it’s hard to deny that his administration has been good for cattle producers. Increased trade access, the repeal of WOTUS, the resolution of the Red River border dispute, death tax reforms and numerous other things have benefited cattle producers over the past four years. Most importantly, administration leaders have favored collaboration over oppressive regulation.
A new administration raises concerns about losing some of those achievements, returning to more regulatory burdens and the possibility of more outlandish proposals like the Green New Deal. Fortunately, some of those ambitions will be checked by a decided conservative majority in the U.S. Supreme Court. There are also four seats still to be called in the Senate, and many believe there is a possibility that Republicans will maintain a small majority there.
The bottom line: We will have to wait and see what happens, but the Washington gridlock will likely continue, and that may not be a bad thing.
Across the country, it appears that predictions of a sweeping Democratic takeover have failed to materialize. However, the forecasts for record turnout and tighter margins of victory came true in a big way. I can guarantee that at this very moment, your chosen 24-hour news network has someone more qualified than me analyzing the presidential election. Therefore, I’ll leave my national-level commentary at that!
The results in Oklahoma and Texas followed very similar paths. In Oklahoma, one U.S. House seat flipped from D to R, but most races were uneventful. In Texas, one U.S. House seat is too close to call, but every other Congressional seat remains in the hands of the same party it did. Republican hopes of winning back recently lost seats failed, as did Democratic hopes of building on their 2018 victories.
One surprise was TX-23, the U.S. House seat currently held by retiring Rep. Will Hurd (R). The gigantic district, which stretches from El Paso to San Antonio, is widely viewed as the most consistently competitive district in Texas. It has flipped between parties numerous times and should have gone to the Democrats if historical trends prevailed. It didn’t. The Republican candidate, Tony Gonzales, has a four-point lead, with 98% of the vote counted. The results in TX-23, while surprising, reflect national gains by Republicans with Hispanic voters.
The Congressional seat still to be called is that of retiring Rep. Kenny Marchant in TX-24, north of DFW. The Texas Tribune currently shows Republican Beth Van Duyne with a 1.3% lead over Democrat Candace Valenzuela. 99% of the vote is in, so results should be coming soon.
State House and Senate races also remained mostly unchanged along party lines, with a few exceptions.
The Texas Senate had one seat flip from Republican to Democrat, that of freshman Senator Pete Flores. The result was not a surprise and did not impact the Republican majority in the Senate. In the House, freshman Rep. Gina Calanni (D-Katy) was defeated by Mike Schofield (R), who previously held the seat but lost to Calanni in 2018. Also, Sarah Davis (R), the long-time Representative from Harris County, was defeated by Democrat Ann Johnson. The two flips offset, leaving the makeup of the Texas House unchanged.
Texas Courts saw a slightly greater Democratic shift, the most notable of which was Texas’ 3rd Court of Appeals, where incumbent Republican Jeff Rose was defeated. The 3rd Court of Appeals is particularly important because it hears challenges to state agency regulatory decisions.
Going back to the Texas House, I would be remiss if I did not mention the election implications on the race for Speaker of the House. The days before the election saw lawmakers from both sides of the aisle declare their intentions to pursue the chamber’s top post. After it became clear that Republicans would retain the majority, things moved quickly. After a lot of inside baseball and a little public back-and-forth, it seems that Chairman Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) has the support necessary to take the helm.
At least one representative has proposed a special session in December to install Phelan as Speaker, but the vote to formalize the position usually occurs in the early days of the regular legislative session, slated to begin Jan. 12, 2021.
To all of you who voted, thank you!
To all of the victorious candidates, congratulations, and we’re looking forward to working with you!
Jeremy Fuchs is the director of public affairs for Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.