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Larger Democratic Minority Poised To Push Texas Legislature Closer To Center

Democrats picked up 12 seats in the Texas House of Representatives, giving them a greater voice in choosing Speaker Joe Straus’ replacement. They also elected two new senators, which could make it harder for Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick to advance conservative priorities.

Democrats head into the next state legislative session with more influence than they've had in a decade, thanks to this week’s mid-term election. They picked up 12 seats in the Texas House of Representatives and two in the Senate.

Last session, the Republican-led Senate passed a raft of conservative bills that were ultimately killed in the Republican-led lower chamber, run by Speaker Joe Straus, a moderate. House conservatives hoped Straus's retirement would make it easier to name one of their own to the speakership. Sherri Greenberg, a former Democratic state representative, says Tuesday's vote makes that less likely.

"It could make a difference in having, for instance, a Republican who's more of a moderate as speaker and to get some Democrats in the coalition to win the speaker's race," says Greenberg, now a professor at UT Austin's LBJ School of Public Affairs.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick had hoped to revive a number of the bills that died in 2017, such as the one relating to school vouchers. The increase in Democratic senators will make it more difficult to move legislation they oppose.


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