Texas Election 2022: Wins, losses, what's next for Blacks
Voters wait in line at a polling place at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs in Austin, Texas, on election night, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

The Texas midterm election has come and gone and while many Democrats are disappointed that the state is pretty much remaining status quo, many vow that the fight to turn Texas blue will continue. Here are some takeaways for the Nov. 8 election and a look at what’s next.

Harris County ballot fight: The Texas Supreme Court has set the stage for a legal fight over whether to count ballots Harris County voters cast during an extended hour of voting ordered by a lower court, which had ordered several polling places stay open until 8pm because they were delayed in opening. The state’s highest civil court blocked that ruling and ordered Harris County to separate ballots cast by voters who were not in line by 7 p.m., the normal cutoff for voting in Texas. The Supreme Court’s order followed a request by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to reverse the lower court’s order. It’s unclear how many votes were cast during the extra hour of voting, but Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee raised the prospect that the state would ask for those votes to be thrown out.

Abbott wins, Beto loses – again: Republican Gov. Greg Abbott was reelected, in what was the most competitive race of his political career. Abbott, who will now serve a third term, beat former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, arguably the most well-known Democrat in Texas. Abbott’s victory is not a surprise — poll after poll showed the Republican leading O’Rourke by about one to eleven points. He also had the advantage of having more money than O’Rourke. The last Democrat to win a Texas gubernatorial race was Ann Richards in 1990. Still, O’Rourke made a significant push in the election cycle, campaigning hard on gun control and reproductive health. But Abbott focused most of his campaign on the state’s economy. He blamed President Joe Biden for high inflation in the U.S. This is the third major loss for O’Rourke in nearly six years — in 2016 he lost against Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, for a U.S. Senate seat. In 2018 he unsuccessfully ran for president.

The Beto Effect: Beto O’Rourke might have lost statewide – his third loss in four years – but there is no denying the impact of his campaign in Harris County, where he garnered 53.94% of the vote to Abbott’s 44.57%. “While the margins for O’Rourke may not have been the same as 2018, they were significant enough to make a difference. His coattails were not as long as they were in 2018, but they were enough to assist in the county election, particularly when you look at how some of those folks won by as little as three percent,” said Texas Southern University Political scientist Michael Adams.

Harris County: In a race that has been neck and neck for months, Judge Lina Hidalgo, the Democratic incumbent, narrowly defeated her Republican challenger, Alexandra del Moral Mealer. Hidalgo won by 15,957 votes, 50.74% – 49.25%. Hidalgo issued a raw challenge to her rivals in both parties. “To the naysayers, to the naysayers who think I’ll be intimidated by conspiracy theories or by bullying or by political prosecutions – bring it on!” Hidalgo, considered a rising star among Texas Democrats, had a vigorous challenger for her seat overseeing the state’s most populous urban county. She faced a steep fundraising disadvantage, attacks tying her to the county’s high number of homicides and a midterm environment generally unfavorable to Democrats to beat Mealer, a West Point graduate and ex-Army captain, to lead the county for another four years.

Hidalgo will have a greater Democratic majority on the county’s governing board. Lesley Briones beat out incumbent County Commisser Jack Cagle, essentially flipping the seat from Republican to Democratic. Cagle and fellow Republican Tom Ramsey boycotted court meetings from mid-September through the end of October in order to prevent the Democratic majority from passing their preferred budget and tax rates that could support it. Democrats now hold a 4-1 advantage moving forward. Cagle lost to Briones, former civil court judge in a Harris County Precinct 4 that was dramatically redrawn, shifting from the county’s northern tier to its western edge and incorporating more non-Anglo voters. The tally was 51.6% for Briones and 48.4% for Cagle. Garcia defeated former Republican Commissioner Jack Morman in Harris County Precinct 2, which had been redrawn to more heavily favor Garcia. The split was 52.6% for Garcia to 47.4% for Morman.

Democrat incumbent Teneshia Hudspeth was victorious in her re-election bid against Republican challenger Stan Stanart. Both Hudspeth and Stanart have held the county clerk’s position before – Stanart for eight years before Hudspeth bested him in the 2020 election. Hudspeth, who was favored to win, had worked in the office for the last 15 years, before deciding to campaign for the role herself.

What’s next: For many African Americans in Harris and Fort Bend counties, it’s an issue of getting answers to why voting machine issues always seem to happen in communities of color and preparing for the next election. “The time is now to start organizing,” Adams said.

Box

U.S. Congressional Black winners

U.S. Rep, Dist. 18

Sheila Jackson Lee (D)    70.7%

Carmen Maria Montiel (R)  26.3 %

U.S. Rep, Dist. 9

Al Green (D)  78.27

Jimmy I Leon (R)  21.73%

U.S. Rep, Dist. 38

Wesley Hunt (R)   63.07%

Duncan F. Klussmann (D)   35.40%

For a complete list, visit www.harrisvotes.com/Election-Results/Election-Day