Democrat Dr. Elizabeth Markowitz, an education specialist from the Houston suburb of Ft. Bend County, lost the January 28 runoff election for Texas House District 28 to Republican ultra conservative Gary Gates who defeated Markowitz by 16 percentage points, 58 percent to 42 percent.
Gates will serve out the remaining term of incumbent representative Dr. John Zerwas, a moderate who resigned last September to accept a position with the University of Texas system. Gate’s win will not have much of an immediate effect since the Texas Legislature is not in session this year.
A victory for Markowitz would have bolstered the Democrats’ goal of taking control of the Texas House, which would give them the edge when drawing up the state’s congressional district map in 2021.
Markowitz’s candidacy drew support from across the country. Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed her. Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke and former San Antonio Mayor and HUD Secretary Julian Castro campaigned for her in the district.
Endorsements also came in from the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, Annie’s List, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, LPAC, the Texas State Teachers Association, the Texas AFL-CIO – Tidelands Labor Assembly, and the Texas Freedom Network among others.
The House Democratic Campaign Committee donated over $100,000 to Markowitz’s campaign and the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee contributed nearly $200,000.
Markowitz, who identifies as gay, ran on a platform of improvement of public schools and colleges, increased access to health care, reduction of gun violence, immigration reform and increased use of clean energy among other points.
In an interview with The Advocate, Markowitz voiced her support for LGBTQ equality in Texas. “I don’t care who you are — all individuals should have the freedom to express themselves and be productive members of society,” she said.
Both Gates and Markowitz are on the ballot for the party primaries on March 3. Markowitz is running unopposed in the Democratic primary, while Gates has one opponent in the Republican race. Most likely, both will face off again in November.
Looking toward the future, Markowitz rallied supporters at her election night party, “Every single thing that we have done over the past six months will come to fruition in November 2020, and I hope that every single one of you will be standing by my side when we have a blue Fort Bend House District 28 in the future.”