"Democrat Neave ousts Republican Sheets as Anderson narrowly hangs on in Dallas County" was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
Editor's note: This story has been updated.
DALLAS — Democratic attorney Victoria Neave narrowly ousted Republican incumbent state Rep. Kenneth Sheets by less than 900 votes Tuesday to win eastern Dallas County's House District 107. It was the state's most expensive House race.
Neave said it was her focus on the issues that matter to the district's middle class residents, like higher wages and affordable education, that resonated with voters.
"It shows how it's time for change and the voices of working families can make a big difference," she said early Wednesday.
In western Dallas County’s District 105 race, Republican incumbent Rep. Rodney Anderson barely fought off Democratic opponent Terry Meza by about 100 votes. He said he knew the race would be close. On the campaign trail, Anderson touted his support from law enforcement associations and an education spending bill he backed.
"It was a combination of all those things," he said when asked what pushed him over the edge.
Two other Republican incumbents in the county easily won another term. In northern Dallas County’s District 102 race, Republican incumbent state Rep. Linda Koop beat Democratic challenger Laura Irvin. In far eastern Dallas County’s District 113, Republican incumbent state Rep. Cindy Burkett handily fought off Democratic challenger Rhetta Andrews Bowers.
See the latest results here.
While the Republican-drawn districts can favor GOP candidates, Dallas County in the past decade has become solidly Democratic and some of its House races are consistently close contests — especially in presidential election years. Democrats this year seized upon GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s controversial comments about women and minorities, but Neave was the only one in Dallas County to benefit their candidates down ballot, even as Trump outperformed expectations in the presidential race.
Koop, 66, is a former Dallas City Council member whose top goals for a second term in Austin included securing the U.S.-Mexico border, funding road construction and maintenance and cutting taxes.
Irvin, 57, of Dallas is a nonprofit program director who criticized her opponent on the campaign trail for supporting campus carry and legislation that overturned Denton’s voter-approved ban on fracking. She supported expanding Medicaid, increasing teacher salaries and increasing the minimum wage.
Anderson, 48, of Grand Prairie, is trying to hold a district that is often close and leans more Democratic during presidential races, most famously in 2008 when former Republican state Rep. Linda Harper-Brown beat Democratic challenger Bob Romano by 19 votes. Anderson, a title insurance executive, beat Harper-Brown in the Republican primary two years ago.
Anderson said his accessibility to constituents and support of law enforcement justified another term. Anderson supported suspending controversial STAAR testing in schools. He said Tuesday night that he's "cautiously optimistic" that he'll win, even though the votes are close so far.
"We're just going to continue to watch them as they come through," he said.
Meza, a 67-year-old Irving attorney, unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination in 2014. This year, she campaigned as a staunch opponent of charter school vouchers and criticized lawmakers for not doing enough to reform the beleaguered Child Protective Services.
Meza was not immediately available for comment.
The Sheets-Neave race has been one of the most heated and was expected to be one of the closest. The eastern Dallas County district has been a toss-up for at least a decade. Sheets ousted a Democrat to win the seat in 2010. He narrowly held onto the district in 2012 but had a wider margin of victory in the 2014 midterms.
Sheets, a 40-year-old attorney from Mesquite, this year aired television commercials that criticized Neave for owning an expensive home outside of the district, something he said would make her a disingenuous representative of constituents. Neave, a 35-year-old attorney from Dallas, used campaign mailers to try to tie Sheets to controversial comments about women that GOP presidential Donald Trump made.
Sheets previously championed health care laws that require mammogram notices for women with dense breast tissue and benefit coverage for people with acute brain injuries.
Neave portrayed herself on the campaign trail as a voice of working-class families. She said she wants to prevent college tuition increases and give teachers raises.
Neither candidate immediately responded to request for comment Tuesday night.
Burkett, a 58-year-old Sunnyvale real estate agent, was instrumental in securing more funds for highway construction and maintenance in the past two legislative sessions. She easily fended off Democratic challengers in her first two elections for the seat.
Bowers, a 49-year-old Rowlett substitute teacher, campaigned with a focus on several education issues including teacher pay, preventing program cuts and fighting against charter school vouchers.