By Daniel Williams, Guest Contributor
Well, it looks like we have a President Trump, and a Republican House and Senate, and will soon have a Republican Supreme Court.
Before you break out the hemlock or start booking your Canadian “vacation” here’s some rays of light, particularly as we head into Texas’ next legislative session:
- In Texas House District 144 Mary Ann Perez trounced incumbent Gilbert Peña 60% to 40%. Peña was one of two members of the legislature who filed anti-trans “bathroom bills” last session. The other, Debbie Riddle, lost her primary. That means that every member of the lege who filed a bathroom bill last session lost their reelection. That’s not going to keep a dozen bathroom bills from being filed next Monday (the first day of filing), but it does mean that no one “owns” the issue in the House and all of the various authors will have to coalesce around a single vision to proceed with a bill – which is an additional hurdle, and we need all the hurdles we can get.
- In North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory lost even though Trump won. There was always a risk that if McCrory lost and Clinton won the loss could be written off as being on Clinton’s coattails. The way this played out there’s no doubt that the unpopularity of NC’s HB 2 (which overturned local nondiscrimination ordinances and instituted the state’s potty police) was the major contributing factor to his loss. While the die-hard Texas politicians obsessed with other people’s bathroom habits (like Lt. Gov. Patrick) won’t be swayed by that, it will give their more level-headed colleagues pause.
- Texas Dems picked up 3 House seats (technically 4). In addition to Perez, Victoria Neave beat incumbent Ken Sheets in HD #107 and Philip Cortez beat incumbent Rick Galindo in 117 (technically the victory by Democrat Tomas Uresti in HD 118 is a pick up as well, but incumbent John Lujan won the seat in a bizarre special election and has never served while the legislature was in session, so the victory doesn’t change the session calculus). Three seats isn’t much, but a lot of victories in the lege, particularly when you’re playing defense, happen because of one person. So this counts as a silver lining.
- The 2020 election will elect the state legislatures that decide redistricting. Those down ballot races will have the coattails of a Democratic presidential candidate running either against a polarizing incumbent or someone trying to escape his legacy. In 2008 Barack Obama’s coattails almost flipped the Texas House and the 76 to 74 partisan divide they created was enough to unseat Speaker Craddick. Then the “Tea-Party wave” of 2010 swept out a third of those Democrats and the legislature that drew the lines for redistricting made sure they favored Republicans. There’s a decade of progress at stake in the 2020 election and Clinton’s defeat may have set up good conditions for a favorable outcome.
Daniel Williams is the former Legislative Coordinator for Equality Texas, a state-wide advocacy organization working on LGBT issues. He previously served as Legislative Aide to Rep. Lon Burnam and has covered LGBT issues in the Texas Legislature for the Dallas Voice. This article was originally published on his blog.