Texas Republicans dominated in a key Texas state House race on Tuesday against a leftist candidate backed by failed Senate and failed presidential candidate Robert Francis O’Rourke.
“The victory by Republican Gary Gates, who put more than $1.5 million of his own money into his run for state House District 28, is sure to bring a sigh of relief for the GOP in a race that was being tracked far beyond Texas. By the final weeks, the race had escalated into the first big special election of 2020,” The Associated Press reported. “In final unofficial results, Gates polled 58% of the vote to 42% for Democrat Eliz Markowitz.”
In addition to O’Rourke, Markowitz received endorsements from leftist Democrat presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren.
“Beto O’Rourke practically made the district a second home after ending his own presidential campaign in November, spending weekends knocking on doors in Katy’s affluent neighborhoods,” the AP continued. “One national Democratic group called Forward Majority, which is spending millions of dollars nationwide to flip GOP-controlled statehouses, says it has spent $400,000 on the race, at least four times what the group spent on any other Texas district in 2018.”
Democrats and the media had tried to claim that this was a bellwether race for this November that this race was going to help them push their narrative that Texas was turning purple.
“It’s the symbolism,” said Mark Jones, a political scientist at Rice University. “It would help Democrats with the narrative that Texas is turning purple.”
Abbott’s office published a video on Twitter showing Gates celebrating the victory late on Tuesday night.
All the grassroots momentum pushed it over the finish line. Thank you to all of the volunteers who knocked thousands of doors and made thousands of phone calls in Fort Bend County.#KeepTexasRed ☑️🇺🇸 #txlege pic.twitter.com/uan0xJvTLX
— Texans for Abbott (@AbbottCampaign) January 29, 2020
Abbott took a shot at O’Rourke earlier in the evening, writing: “Wait. Beto math was that if he won or was close in a House district then he could help a democrat win. He came within 3% in this district. Early returns show the Republican winning by about 18% Beto math doesn’t work. All of that $ was incinerated.”
Beto math was that if he won or was close in a House district then he could help a democrat win.
He came within 3% in this district.
Early returns show the Republican winning by about 18%
Beto math doesn’t work.
All of that $ was incinerated. https://t.co/1euLaqE0px
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) January 29, 2020
Markowitz tried to spin her blowout double digit loss as a win late on Tuesday, declaring that she and the Democrats in Texas had established momentum heading into November, despite having no evidence to substantiate her claims.
“We knew this election would be tough — it’s not easy to take on Republicans in an off-year special election, but we made this seat competitive in a way it’s never been before,” Markowitz said. “We head into November having established a movement for change and that movement will continue across the state of Texas through November. This is a grassroots campaign dedicated to putting people over special interests, and we’ve built a network that will last for years to come.”
Here was Markowitz making her pitch to voters in the closing days of the race:
— Dr. Eliz Markowitz (@ElizMarkowitz) January 21, 2020
Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel responded to the blowout win by writing on Twitter: “Big GOP win in a TX special election! Dems spent $1M+ and called #HD28 a “bellweather” for 2020. National Dems like Biden, Bloomberg, Beto & Warren went all-in. Congratulations @GatesforTexas , @RSLC , and our hundreds of grassroots volunteers who got involved!”
Big GOP win in a TX special election!
Dems spent $1M+ and called #HD28 a “bellweather” for 2020.
National Dems like Biden, Bloomberg, Beto & Warren went all-in.
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) January 29, 2020
This report has been updated to include additional information.