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Voucher supporters flip House seat, Texans approve constitutional amendments

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

Texas Legislature Elections Privatization | Vouchers

Date Posted: 11/03/2021 | Author: Mark Wiggins

Republican John Lujan won Tuesday’s special runoff election in House District (HD) 118, flipping the seat previously held by a Democrat. Voters also approved eight amendments to the Texas Constitution in the general election held November 2, 2021.

Lujan was backed by the American Federation for Children, a political action committee (PAC) founded by school privatization activist and GOP megadonor Betsy DeVos to support pro-voucher candidates. His opponent, Democrat Frank Ramirez, was endorsed by the pro-public education Texas Parent PAC.

Voucher supporters prevailed Tuesday in part due to low voter turnout. Lujan defeated Ramirez by a narrow margin, 51% to 49%. The difference between the candidates was fewer than 300 votes, with Lujan taking 5,924 votes and Ramirez taking 5,638. Tuesday’s election was decided by just 6.3% of the district’s residents, or roughly 8.6% of the voting age population in HD 118.

This is the second time Lujan has been elected to the Texas House by way of a special election. He previously held this seat in 2016 after another special election that was similarly necessitated by a vacancy. He lost his bid for election to a full term in office in both the 2016 and 2018 elections.

Voters also approved eight amendments to the Texas Constitution in Tuesday’s statewide general election. The most popular included an amendment allowing residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities to designate one essential caregiver who cannot be denied in-person visitation rights, as well as an amendment expanding eligibility for residential homestead property tax exemption to include spouses of military members killed in the line of duty.

Next on the election calendar are the March 1 primary elections, which will reflect changes to voting maps passed by the 87th Texas Legislature this year. The maps reflect the will of the party in control of the state legislature at the time of redistricting, meaning in this case they have been drawn to preserve the GOP’s legislative majority through 2032. Already the new district boundaries are being challenged in court by Democrats who argue the maps ignored population gains driven by Hispanic, Asian-American, and African-American citizens, as shown on the most recent U.S. Census.

Legal challenges to voting maps after the last redistricting process in 2011 forced Texas to delay the date of the 2012 primaries, which also had an impact on voter turnout. It’s unclear what effect the current litigation may have on upcoming elections, but we will continue to post any news here at Teach the Vote.


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