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Three Big Progressive Takeaways from the Texas Primary Runoff

Let's take a look at what happened in the Texas primary runoff

#1 Democratic turnout was the highest it’s been in a decade.

Turnout in the Democratic primary runoff was higher than it was in 2016, and more than twice as high as 2014. In fact, it was the highest turnout for a Democratic runoff in a decade. Though runoff elections are generally low turnout affairs and voter participation in these contests has been declining in certain years (which is why we recently argued to get rid of them altogether) this year’s spike in turnout should be taken as a sign of Democratic enthusiasm.

#2 Progressive women won big.

Just as they did in the March primary election, progressive women scored big victories up and down the ballot in the runoff.

At the top of the ticket, Lupe Valdez made history — breaking barriers as the first Latina and first openly gay candidate to win a major party’s nomination for governor in Texas.

If Gina Ortiz Jones, a former intelligence officer, beats Republican incumbent Will Hurd in Texas Congressional District 23 in November — one of the state’s most competitive districts — she will become the first lesbian, first Filipino, and first Iraq war veteran to represent Texas in Congress. And in another flippable congressional district — CD 7 in Houston — Lizzie Pannill Fletcher will take on nine-term Republican incumbent John Culberson.

These women — and many more in congressional and state legislative districts across the state — join an impressive roster of barrier-busting women who won in March, including the first two Latina members of Congress from Texas, Sylvia Garcia in Houston’s CD 29 and Veronica Escobar in El Paso’s CD 13.

# 3 Republican extremists - and their special interest backers - lost big.

In a blow to the Tea Party and extremist faction of the Republican Party in Texas, so-called moderate Republicans won in most every Texas House runoff. Candidates backed by extreme anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life and hyper-conservative funders Empower Texans lost big. As the Texas Tribune explains, these loses carry a lot of weight in impacting the composition and governance of the Texas House: “The lean of the lower chamber is especially critical going into 2019 as the Texas House prepares to elect its first new speaker in a decade.”