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Election 2016

Explaining The Democrats’ Near Sweep Of Harris County

Pundits long predicted Donald Trump’s position as the GOP nominee would hurt Republican candidates down the ballot. Houston was one of the few places where that forecast came true.


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Texas flag with both party animal signs on pins
Graphic by Valerie Lawhorn

Democrats won all four major Harris County offices on Election Day and swept the county's two dozen district judgeships. That made the region one of the few bright spots for Democrats – in Texas or anywhere else.

Houston Public Media's Coverage of Election 2016

Houston Public Media’s Coverage of Election 2016

Overcrowding in the Harris County Jail played a role in Republican Sheriff Ron Hickman's loss to former city councilmember Ed Gonzalez, the Democrat. Republican DA Devon Anderson lost to Democratic challenger Kim Ogg in part due to a series of scandals, including the decision to jail a rape victim to ensure she would testify against her attacker.

But Lane Lewis, chair of the Harris County Democratic Party, puts down much of the party's local success to a strong get out the vote effort. "One of our primary focuses was on senior citizens and mail ballots, and for the first time in history, certainly recent history, the Democratic Party led in mail ballots. In fact we won by, I believe, about 10,000 votes,"

Donald Trump's position as the Republican nominee also played a big part in the wipeout of GOP candidates across the county. That's the conclusion of Republican State Sen. Paul Bettencourt.

"When you have the top of the ticket losing 162,000 votes in any county, it makes it challenging for the bottom of the ticket to survive," Bettencourt says. "And clearly, with the exception of a couple of districts in the Harris County Department of Education, that did not occur."

We also reached out to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick for comment. Patrick, who led Trump's campaign in Texas, declined to give News 88.7 an interview.