Democrats pick up 12 new Texas House seats, including 4 Central Texas districts
Election Night marked a big shift in the state House of Representatives. Incumbents who were behind some of last session's most controversial issues are out -- and in their place, are a dozen new Democrats.
Right away, Representative Celia Israel made it clear -- the 86th legislative session will be very different from the 85th -- #balance, she tweeted. "At first, I was just excited that I've got 12 new people to work with," she told CBS Austin. But then, she said she hopes it means 2019 won't be like 2017. "It was difficult, in that it was an emotional strain fighting over social issues, when what you really want to do is work on transportation stuff."
Texas voters flipped 12 state house seats on Election Day, and while that doesn't give Democrats a majority, it gives them a louder voice. "When you have an imbalance whether to the right or the left, that's not a productive place to be," Rep. Israel said.
Twenty-nine year old James Talarico is the new Democratic representative-elect from traditionally Republican Williamson County. "I'm a former middle school teacher and I did this to try to fix our broken school finance system," he said. He agrees with Representative Israel -- he's not interested in bathrooms or abortion. "It's not only that they're divisive, they're also irrelevant issues," Talarico said. And both Talarico and Israel hope state lawmakers will get away from the ideological fights of two years ago
"We live in two year cycles and this session, I hope we can really focus on public education and not just have a blue-ribbon committee," said Israel.
The 12 new seats mean Democrats will have a bigger say in who succeeds House Speaker Joe Straus -- and it means Republicans will have nowhere near the two-thirds super-majority votes to suspend the rules.
We will begin to see how the legislative session will shape up on Monday, November 12 -- that's the first day that bills can be pre-filed.