Democrat Wendy Davis Tuesday lost a bit more than her gubernatorial race on Tuesday. Her former seat in the Texas Senate flipped to Republicans on a rough night for Democrats in legislative races.
After an expensive race, Tea Party activist Konni Burton will represent Tarrant County residents in SD-10, the Senate’s only swing district this year. She led Libby Willis by 7 points with 85 percent of precincts reporting.
“We were all sick and tired of being represented by a liberal in Austin who didn’t reflect the conservative values of District 10,” Burton told her supporters. “Tonight, those value have been restored.”
Republicans also pummeled Democrats in the most closely watched Texas House races.
They flipped a coastal district, capitalizing on the departure of state Rep. Craig Eiland, D-Galveston, who served HD-23 for two decades. There, Republican Wayne Faircloth cruised to victory over Democrat Susan Criss by 11 points.
Meanwhile, Republican Gilbert Peña ousted Mary Ann Perez, a Democrat, from HD-144 – east of Houston – by just 155 votes. It was an unexpected upset for the one-term representative, who is an insurance agent, in a district that had been redrawn to favor Democrats during redistricting.
Peña, who lives in Pasadena, campaigned on issues like education and the need for job training. This was his first win in three attempts to join the Legislature; the retired commercial refrigerator installer ran unsuccessfully for state senator and representative positions in 2008 and 2010.
Republican Rick Galindo defeated Democratic incumbent Philip Cortez in a tight race to represent HD-117 in San Antonio. With just two precincts out, Galindo was leading Cortez by 5 percentage points. Galindo's campaign said Cortez had called and conceded.
Matt Rinaldi, a Republican, beat Democrat Paul Stafford in Dallas County's HD-115 race. With a 17-point margin of victory, Rinaldi coasted through the general election compared to his primary, where he knocked off an incumbent by less than one percentage point.
Incumbent state Rep. J.M. Lozano, R-Kingsville, defeated assistant district attorney Kim Gonzalez from Nueces County in the race for HD-43. It’s the third time Lozano was sent to Austin and his second after switching to the Republican Party.
Lozano, a small-business owner, ran on a promise to stay true to the job-creating oil-and-gas industry in the district and fight against what he called the Obama administration’s regulatory overreach. The district includes Bee, San Patricio, Jim Wells and Kleburg counties.
Lozano, first elected to the House in 2010 as a Democrat, switched to the Republican Party in 2012. At the time, he said that his conservative record, "which was pro-life, pro-oil and gas development, and pro-small-business," was better aligned with the GOP.
In a closely watched race for HD-105, Rodney Anderson, who ousted Rep. Linda Harper-Brown in the Republican primary, protected the seat from a Democratic insurgence. He beat Susan Motley by 14 points.
Not all news was bad for the Democrats.
Hubert Vo, the only Vietnamese-American ever elected to the Texas Legislature, easily held onto his seat representing communities west of Houston in House District 149. He beat his Republican challenger, Al Hoang, with 55 percent of the vote.
Texas Tribune reporters Neena Satija, Bobby Blanchard, Julián Aguilar and Christine Ayala contributed to this story.