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The 2020 Texas Primary filings are in: Here’s what to expect in the Texas House

The battle for the house_Mesa de trabajo 1

With the filing deadline for the March 3, 2020 primary over, Texans now know who will be running for the 150 Texas House seats up for grabs.

Here are the highlights:

One hundred and thirty-seven incumbents opted to seek re-election, including 75 Republicans and 62 Democrats. This means there are 13 open seats, of which five were last held by Democrats and eight by Republicans.

For the rest of the 137 incumbents seeking re-election, 42 are not facing opponents in the primary and the general election, including 21 Democrats and 21 Republicans. That leaves 95 incumbents seeking re-election who are contested.

Each of the 10 most vulnerable Democrats and 10 most vulnerable Republicans in the Texas House are being challenged in the general election. Two of the Republican incumbents have retired. Democrats and Republicans have filed for both of their seats.

Open Seats 

Hardline conservative State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) announced his retirement following his alienating antics during a relatively quiet session. Running to replace him are two Democrats – former 2018 opponent Steve Riddell and attorney Jeff Whitfield – and three Republicans – former Bedford Mayor Jim Griffin, business owner Taylor Gillig, and sales manager Jeff Cason, who was endorsed by Stickland.

John Wray (R-Waxahachie) also retired shortly after the session ended. Running to replace him are three Republicans, title executive Ryan Pitts (the son of former Rep. Jim Pitts), former Congressional candidate Jake Ellzey, and Robert “Zack” Rader.

Dwayne Bohac (R-Houston), who won by less than 50 votes in 2018, announced his retirement in late September. Running to replace him are three Republicans – Harris County Department of Education trustee Josh Flynn, former GOP precinct chair Lacey Hull and radio host Claver Kamau-Imani  – and three Democrats – attorneys Akilah Bacy and Josh Wallenstein as well as former HD-138 Democratic primary candidate Jenifer Rene Pool. 

Two of the open seats include House Democrats who have decided to run for State Senate. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio) is running for Senate District 19, currently held by Pete Flores (R-Pleasonton), and Cesar Blanco (D-El Paso) is running for the open seat left by retiring Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso) in Senate District 29.

Running to replace Gutierrez in District 119 are Democrats Jennifer Ramos, Sean Villasana and Liz Campos. Democrats Elisa Tamayo and Claudia Perez are running to replace Blanco in District 76.

Scandals

Several incumbents have retired due to scandal, including disgraced Speaker Dennis Bonnen, Chairman Poncho Nevárez (D-Eagle Pass), who was arrested for drug possession, and most recently Rick Miller (R-Sugar Land), who made racist comments about his Asian American primary opponents. 

Running to replace Speaker Bonnen is a crowded Republican primary, which includes Brazoria County Tax Assessor-Collector Ro’Vin Garrett, nurse Rhonda Seth, former Brazosport ISD Trustee Troy Brimage, Angleton City Council member Cody Vasut and Bay City Chamber of Commerce President Mitch Thames. Former Angelton Mayor and retired teacher Patrick Henry is the only Democrat running for the seat.

In the Fort Bend Texas House seat left by Miller, three Republicans – former County GOP chair Jacey Jetton, analyst Leonard Chen, and Matt Morgan – and four Democrats – consultant Rish Oberoi, State Board of Education Member Lawrence Allen, perennial candidate L. Sarah DeMerchant and physician Suleman Lalani – are running. 

The House District held by Nevárez runs along the southern border from Eagle Pass to Fort Hancock. The race features two Democrats and one Republican. In the Democratic primary, Herbierto Morales and Rowland Garza will face off. The winner will meet watermelon farmer Luke Brown in the general election. It is reported that Republicans Robert Garza, and Ruben Falcon have also filed, but this has not yet been confirmed by the Secretary of State.

Last Minute Retirements

An hour prior to the filing deadline, Mike Lang (R-Granbury) changed his mind again and decided to run for Hood County Commissioner. As a result, there will be a one week extension for candidates to file.

On Tuesday afternoon, Bill Zedler (R-Arlington) announced he will not seek a re-election bid. So far, Mansfield Mayor David Cook filed for the Republican primary and Joe Drago filed for the Democratic primary for his seat.

Special Elections

Among the dozen open seats, three coincide with special elections set to be decided in runoffs later next month

Running to replace Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson in District 100 are attorney Paul Stafford and Democrat operative Lorraine Birabil, who is currently in a runoff with pastor James Armstrong.

In former State Rep. Jessica Farrar’s (D-Houston) House District 148, both runoff candidates Democrat Anna Eastman and Republican Luis La Rotta have filed for the primary. Before Eastman can meet La Rotta in November, she will face several Democrats who have signed up for the primary. They include rematches with Penny Shaw and paralegal Adrian Garcia, both of whom placed sixth and third respectively in the November special election. Emily Wolf and former candidate for Houston City Council District 4 Cynthia Reyee-Revilla are also running.

As for replacing Chairman John Zerwas (R-Richmond) in the Fort Bend County House district, both candidates in the January 28 runoff, educator Elizabeth Markowitz and perennial candidate Gary Gates, have filed as has Schell Hammel, a Vape business owner who was previously running in the crowded Republican primary for Texas’ Congressional District 22. Markowitz will meet one of the two Republicans in the Nov. 3, 2020 general election.

Incumbents

Twenty-five incumbents face primary challengers, including 16 Democrats and nine Republicans. Eight of those incumbents also have general election challengers should they clear their primaries. These include Reps. Dan Flynn (R-Canton), Ron Reynolds (D-Missouri City), Bobby Guerra (D-Mission), Phil Stephenson (R-Wharton), Jared Patterson (R-Frisco), Briscoe Cain (R-Houston), Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio), and vulnerable State Rep. Michelle Beckley (D-Carrollton).

Seventy-one incumbent State Reps. are only facing general election challengers, consisting of 45 Republicans and 26 Democrats.

In total, there are 109 contested races for the State House.

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