in Houston, Texas
Is Texas ground zero for tossing out incumbents?
Wednesday, Aug 01, 2012, 02:21PM CST
By Curt Olson

Texas may not be ground zero for incumbent state lawmakers who lose, but after Tuesday the Lone Star state could make a case for it.

In the May primary, seven Republican state House incumbents lost, including three committee chairmen for House Speaker Joe Straus. The trail of defeated incumbent lawmakers continued Tuesday, this time in the State Senate and House. Four of five incumbents in the House and Senate lost in the runoff election Tuesday.

State Rep. J. M. Lozano, R-Kingsville, survived by defeating Bill Wilson of San Patricio County, 54 percent to 46 percent. Lozano changed his party affiliation from Democrat because House District 43 became a Republican-leaning district.

Michael Q. Sullivan, president and chief executive officer of Empower Texans and its premier project Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, said “debacle” would be a starting point for the woes of establishment Texas Republicans after the runoff election.

“These people spend a lot of money and try to make people think they’re conservative,” Sullivan told Texas Watchdog. “This points to the deep-seeded mood of voters that they want conservatives.”

Ballotpedia released a survey late last week that revealed more incumbent state lawmakers lost races this year. Prior to the runoff, the rate of incumbent losses this year, 14.8 percent, outpaced the rate in 2010, 8.38 percent. Texas increased this all on its own.

Sullivan said Straus had a challenge before voters cast ballots as a dozen allies didn’t seek re-election, and now a total of five committee chairmen have been defeated, which includes two more Tuesday.

Jim Riddlesperger, political science professor at Texas Christian University, said Straus still has very good odds at remaining Speaker. Indeed, he received the support of Democrats as well as Republicans to become House Speaker. Still, he also views the election results as “anti-incumbent.”

The following is the list of incumbent Republican state lawmakers who lost in Tuesday’s runoff election:

  • In Senate District 25, Donna Campbell crushed long-time Sen. Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio, 66 percent to 34 percent. Wentworth served as chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Open Government.
  • In House District 11, Travis Clardy defeated incumbent Chuck Hopson of Jacksonville, 51 percent to 49 percent. Hopson serves as General Investigating & Ethics Committee.
  • In House District 59, J.D. Sheffield defeated incumbent Sid Miller of Stephenville, 55 percent to 45 percent. Miller serves as Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee chairman.
  • In House District 88, Ken King defeated incumbent Jim Landtroop of Plainview, 54 percent to 46 percent. 

Sullivan noted that Landtroop and State Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, who lost in May, have good records as conservatives with Texans for Fiscal Responsibility. He said redistricting large portions of new territory into their districts caused their defeat.

For an interesting analysis of runoff election night, check out Cory Crow's 'No Upgrades' biog.

Contact Curt Olson at or 512-557-3800. Follow him on Twitter @olson_curt.

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Photo of 'Don't just shout, vote them out' by Flickr user Sue Peacok, via the Creative Commons license.

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