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Many New Names, but Republicans Continue to Dominate Legislature

The Legislature will have 49 new members, but the party labels aren't changing much — Republicans will retain commanding majorities in both the Texas House and Senate.

Voters wait in line to cast their ballots at a location across the street from the University of Texas at Austin campus on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012.

Many of the names have changed, but the situation is essentially the same — the Texas Legislature has fewer Republicans in it than before the election, but the GOP still holds commanding majorities in both the House and the Senate.

The current House has 102 Republicans and 48 Democrats. Based on unofficial results reported by the Texas secretary of state's office, the new one will have 95 Republicans and 55 Democrats.

Three incumbents lost Tuesday night, bringing to 49 the number of legislators who won’t be returning for another session in January.

That list included state Reps. Connie Scott, R-Corpus Christi, who lost a rematch to former Rep. Abel Herrero, D-Portland, in HD-34; Dee Margo, R-El Paso, another rematch loser who’ll be replaced in January by Democratic former Rep. Joe Moody in HD-78; and John V. Garza, R-San Antonio, who lost to Democrat Philip Cortez.

No state senators lost their races on Tuesday. And several incumbent legislators survived serious challenges.

The leader on that list was state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, who beat state Rep. Mark Shelton, R-Fort Worth, in a district that leans Republican. With Davis' win, Democrats won enough seats to make up one-third of the Senate, enough under that body’s current rules to block votes on issues the Democrats want to stop.

In the House, a number of incumbents held off challengers, including Reps. Craig Eiland, D-Galveston, in HD-23; J.M. Lozano of Kingsville, who switched parties and held off a challenge from Democratic former Rep. Yvonne Gonzalez Toureilles of Alice in HD-43; Linda Harper Brown, R-Irving, who beat Democrat Rosemary Robbins in a very tight race in HD-105; Kenneth Sheets, R-Dallas, who narrowly held off former Rep. Robert Miklos, D-Mesquite in HD-107; and Sarah Davis, R-Houston, challenged by Democrat Ann Johnson in HD-134.

Going into the general election, 40 members of the 150-member House were out, either because of retirement, loss or because they ran for another office. Six of the state’s 31 senators were out, including Mario Gallegos, D-Houston, who died late last month and whose name remained on the general election ballot. His re-election sets up a special election to fill that seat and likely leaves one chair empty for the first days of the legislative session that starts in January.

Voters also pulled some new members through tough general election campaigns, including Jason Villalba, R-Dallas; Tony Dale, R-Cedar Park; Gene Wu, D-Houston; and Mary Ann Perez, D-Houston.

In the Senate, the pre-election balance of power was 19-12 in favor of the GOP. With the votes counted, the Republicans have a 19-11 lead; the Gallegos district was drawn to favor a Democratic candidate and a few have quietly begun making plans, including state Rep. Carol Alvarado and former Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia.

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2012 elections