February 4 , 2020

Inside this edition of Capitol Roundup:


House Special Election run-off races conclude; winners will see new challengers in March 3 primary elections
Please feel free to forward this information to others and reply by email with any changes or additions you'd like to see.

Click here  to access past editions of Capitol Roundup.
AGC Texas Chapters

Quote of the Week:

"School districts hold the responsibility of equipping students to participate in the democratic process, but they, like all state agencies, must refrain from spending public funds to advocate for or against political candidates."

-Attorney General Ken Paxton

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton recently mailed letters and educational materials to school districts across the state, outlining guidelines and frequently asked questions regarding the role of schools in politics and elections. "Our public schools are charged with preparing Texas children to be 'thoughtful, active citizens,'" the letters said, quoting the Texas Education Code. 
Special election winners declared in three Texas House districts, but winners face primary election challengers in March

Last week's winners in the three Texas House special elections are guaranteed seats in the Legislature for the remainder of its 86th term. However, the victorious candidates will need to win again in the March primaries to advance to the November, 2020 election in order to hold those seats for the 2021 Session.

There were few surprises in the Jan. 28 elections, as Gary Gates secured a victory for Republicans, while Lorraine Birabil and Anna Eastman held onto the two seats vacated by Democrats. 

In House District 28 - encompassing parts of Fort Bend County, including Sugar Land - Gary Gates (R-Rosenberg) beat Elizabeth Markowitz (D-Katy) by a 58-42 margin. The race had received national attention, with endorsements from presidential candidates and hundreds of thousands of dollars being poured in from New York City and Washington D.C. 
Gary Gates (R-Rosenberg)

In that race, voters turned out in record numbers, with more than 30,000 people marking a ballot. That was the highest vote count in a special election for the Texas House by more than 9,000 votes and the highest Texas Legislature special election vote total since the 2015 Senate District 23 race between Sen. Jose Menendez and Rep. Trey Martinez-Fischer.

While Gates will face a Republican primary challenger in March, he is expected to win and face Markowitz again in November's general election. The last time those two met in November, 2019, Markowitz received 39 percent of the vote to Gates' 28 percent.

Lorraine Birabil (D-Dallas)
Meanwhile, in Dallas' House District 100Lorraine Birabil (D-Dallas) easily defeated James Armstrong III (D-Dallas) by a 66-34 margin of victory. The two will face off again in the March primary, alongside four other Democratic candidates. The winner of that race will serve in the 2021-23 legislative session, as there are no Republicans filed for this seat on the November ballot.

House District 100 had the lowest turnout out of the three special election run-offs with fewer than 2,500 votes cast. The total votes represented the second lowest turnout in a House Special election run-off since 1992. 
Anna Eastman (D-Houston)

Finally, in Houston's House District 148 race, Democrat Anna Eastman won a decisive victory against Republican Luis LaRotta, both of Houston. Eastman won on a 65-35 vote after beating LaRotta in the previous match-up between 15 Democratic candidates. 

In last week's runoff election, nearly 7,000 voters showed up at the polls to place Eastman ahead of LaRotta, but LaRotta will again be the Republican nominee in November. Meanwhile, Eastman will face four primary challengers next month in an effort to advance to the 2020 general election. 

Though the three winner's from last week's races are not guaranteed seats in 2021, they will  serve on interim committees, participate in interim hearings, hire staff, and have access to legislative resources to draft legislation for next session. All three winners will also be preparing for their March primary races - the next step to a full two-year term to the 87th Legislature beginning in January, 2021.

Click here for a complete list of 2020 primary election races.
21 - Outstanding Construction Award submission deadline
3 - Primary Election Day

24 - Board of Directors Meeting (Austin)
27 -  Last day to register to vote in May 26 runoff primary election

26 - Runoff Primary Election Day

15-17 - 2020 AGC-TBB Convention (Gloucester, MA)

TBD - Outstanding Construction Awards
TBD - Board of Directors Meeting

3 - General Election Day
20 - Board of Directors Meeting (Austin)