"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice;
But when a wicked man rules, the people groan."
Here's the short version: In the Senate, Dan Patrick is SUBSTANTIALLY stronger and the Senate has SUBSTANTIALLY more leverage in inter-cameral disputes. In the House, grassroots insurgents continued making incremental gains, but failed to land the knockout blow that earlier seemed within reach. This cycle could have been better, but if modest gains every two years is a new baseline, that's also not a terrible place to be.
The most important result of the night was Dawn Buckingham's resounding victory over Susan King. As a Senator, Dawn will be a significant improvement over Troy Fraser. Likewise, Bryan Hughes will be a major improvement over Kevin Eltife. For Bryan Hughes to succeed where Susan King failed illustrates, once again, the degree to which Joe Straus carries negative coattails whenever House members try to run for anything else. Adding Buckingham and Hughes to the mix will enable Dan Patrick to pass quickly a pro-growth, pro-liberty agenda early in the session then hold the line when the inevitable confrontation with the House comes late in the session.
In the House, we have mixed feelings. Obviously, leadership is likely to return, and that's not a fact to gloss over. On the other hand, if the best they can do is hold us to incremental gains while enabling a healthy churn in the open seats, that's just not a terrible place to be over the long run.
Consider the following:
- 4 Straus lieutenants got directly popped (Debbie Riddle, Marsha Farney, Doug Miller, and Wayne Smith) between the primary and the runoff.
- 3 more Straus lieutenants retired and were replaced by a substantial upgrade (Jim Keffer, Patricia Harless, and Allan Fletcher) during the primary.
- While we lost 4 seats to leadership (Molly White, Stuart Spitzer, David Simpson, and Scott Turner), that still means +3 for the grassroots; furthermore, we'd expect the leadership candidates who just won to vote substantially less badly during their first term than the incumbents who just got popped.
- Speaking of leadership candidates voting less badly early in their tenure: There are several seats where incumbent leadership allies are being replaced by freshman leadership allies. Freshmen leadership allies almost always vote better than longterm incumbent leadership allies. Even when you don't get everything you want, churn is healthy.
That's our longwinded way of saying we expect there to be fewer "F's" and more "C's" in the House next session. Obviously, that's frustrating when what you really need are "A's" and "B's." But C's are still better than F's.
Also, Wayne Christian winning statewide was pretty awesome; we just had to throw that in there!
Bottom Line: We'd expect the 85th to be better than the 84th in a very similar way to how the 84th (for all it's flaws) was still better than the 83rd. Obviously, it's not where we want to be, but it's still better than where we were. While we're open to suggestion over how to hasten the process, if the worst case scenario is incremental gains of 5 to 7 seats (across both chambers) every two years, that will eventually get us where we need to go.