Republicans held onto a Texas state House seat Tuesday night in a runoff election that was eyed by Democrats as a potential opportunity to show strength in the state’s suburbs heading into November.
Republican Gary Gates defeated Democrat Elizabeth Markowitz after winning 58% of the votes in the Texas House District 28 runoff race, according to the Texas secretary of state’s tally.
A runoff election was called after neither candidate won a majority vote last November in a special election for the House seat, which was held after Republican John Zerwas stepped down from the position in September to join the University of Texas system. In that election, Markowitz, an educator, won the most votes with 39.05%, and Gates, a businessman, won the second-largest amount with 28.46%.
The chairman of the Republican Party of Texas celebrated Gates’ win in a statement on Tuesday, saying it’s “a testament to his campaign’s focused diligence in the field throughout the district during this Special Election.”
“The Republican Party of Texas was proud to be a part of a coalition to support this victory. The unprecedented cooperation and coordination we were able to construct is the model for our 2020 Victory efforts,” chairman James Dickey said.
The race had been the focus of state and national Democrats, who were hoping a win in the district could help build momentum ahead of the November elections. Republicans currently control a majority in the Texas House of Representatives.
Markowitz had been endorsed by several prominent Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden and former 2020 presidential candidate and Texas Democratic congressman Beto O’Rourke, who had been campaigning for her.
In a tweet late Tuesday, the national Republican Party welcomed the results, writing: “HUGE win tonight in the Texas #HD28 race that Joe Biden said would ‘set the tone for the entire general election in 2020.'”
Markowitz hinted early Wednesday at possibly running again for the seat, which will be on the ballot this fall.
“We’ve only just begun, team!” she wrote in a tweet that asked supporters to donate “to help us crush the battle for HD28 in November.”
Texas Democratic Party chair Gilberto Hinojosa applauded Markowitz in a statement on Wednesday “for her work in such a historically difficult election,” saying the campaign “is one of the many reasons why this race will be a toss-up in November.”