TNP Election Results Update
Dan Patrick is the GOP's candidate for Lieutenant Governor. Patrick is a conservative firebrand strongly supported by Tea Party groups and Empower Texas – an organization led by Michael Quinn Sullivan. (Sullivan, also strongly supports full practice for nurse practitioners). Dan Patrick has never been real helpful as a senator, but that could all change. We will take a wait and see approach with this one.
Senator Bob Deuell, a physician from Greenville, lost to Bob Hall, a retired veteran. Dr. Deuell has fought full practice and would have had more influence in 2015 in the senate because of his seniority. Thankfully, we only have two physicians, Schwertner and Campbell, both vehemently opposed to full practice, left in the Texas Senate. They will, however, both likely chair important committees – Campbell will get Education and Schwertner, rumor has it, will chair Health and Human Services. Patrick has said all along that Senator Nelson will get the Finance Committee.
The Texas Senate will have at least 8 new senators next year – mostly Tea Party types that believe in limited government, reduced regulations, and little spending. The ultra-conservative portion of the GOP will be leading the Texas Senate which will make things much more interesting than we have seen in the past. In the race to replace Wendy Davis, Konni Burton defeated former state representative and Fort Worth pediatrician, Mark Shelton. She will now take on Democrat Libby Willis in the race for the SD 10 seat, one of the only swing districts left in the state. In a Republican-leaning district in a off-year election and with an extremely unpopular president, Burton goes into the campaign as the odds-on favorite to win the race.
Interestingly, the Tea Party didn't have as much success in the Texas House. Establishment candidates were able to beat back challenges by candidates backed by Empower Texans and other conservative activist groups (Tea Party). While the House will see a little of a tilt to the right because of victories in March, that change will be small and probably not enough to oust current Speaker of the House, Joe Strauss.
Democratic turnout in this year's primary was much lower than that for the GOP. While GOP turnout was nothing to be proud of, it does signal that Republicans are still strong in Texas and likely to win all state-wide races. In my estimation, the one race to watch is for Lt. Governor. Dan Patrick will be taking on Senator Leticia Van de Putte. Patrick has been adamant about closing the border with Mexico and stopping all illegal immigration. His rhetoric has sometimes been inflammatory and could really gin up Hispanic voters. I believe this race will ultimately end up like the Perry/Sharp and Dewhurst/Sharp races – extremely close but a win for the GOP candidate. Discipline will be key for Patrick – staying on message, never straying from the script, and never letting emotion get the best of his rhetoric. He had difficulty with this in the primary but it never hurt him with Tea Party conservatives. It will when he is faced with a larger, more diversified electorate. This one will be entertaining.
Lastly, because Senator Glenn Hegar is the GOP nominee for Comptroller, he is likely to resign his Senate seat. Candidates to replace him will likely include, Representative Lois Kolkhorst (Chair of House Public Health) and Representative John Zerwas (anesthesiologist). This race will be all about who can get further to the right of the other. Kolkhorst is an Empower Texans darling. She showcases the Empower Awards in her offices. Zerwas on the other hand is not an Empower Texans nor a Tea Party favorite. Since neither will have to give up their current seat to run in this special election, neither really has anything to lose. Kolkhorst was front-and-center last night at the Patrick victory party and onstage with him when he gave his victory speech. Either way, we are likely to have to deal with both of these guys next session. My money is on Kolkhorst.
At any rate, now is the time to get involved in the campaigns of your choice and to make the connections that will advance your profession. Let me know if you need help getting connected.
TNP Public Policy Director