One major goal of Texas Republican leaders is to keep their supermajority of votes in the state Senate — and with Pete Flores' victory in Senate District 19, they are one step closer to that objective.
Prior to 2015, conservative legislation needed support from two-thirds of the Senate for the bill to be considered for a vote.
But then Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and 20 Senate Republicans lowered the threshold to three-fifths of the Senate.
David Crocket, who teaches political science at Trinity University in San Antonio, said that super-majority ensures Patrick controls the Senate's agenda.
“You need a supermajority to override a veto or to stop a filibuster or to do the kind of things in the Texas Senate that requires more than simply 16 votes,” Crocket said.
Now that Pete Flores has won the seat for District 19, the lieutenant governor can add one more Republican vote to his arsenal.
And Patrick said the Flores victory says two things about the political landscape for Texas Republicans.
“First of all look at this turnout, it was a high turnout for both sides, so people are engaged. The other thing, this guy gives us a two-thirds majority, this is a forerunner, a precursor of what is to come,” Patrick said.
Not so fast, says Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa. He said the only thing the special election demonstrated is the problem with a supermajority.
“Governor Abbott stole an election, plain and simple,” he said. “Republicans set a date that would guarantee low voter turnout, then Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Republican special interests poured money into the race, denying the people of West Texas and the U.S. Mexico border representation that shares their values.”
In any case, political experts consider three Republican Senate districts in Fort Worth, Dallas and Houston to be in play this election cycle.
So that's why Patrick made large in-kind donations and campaigned for Flores in the special election. That Republican victory, Crockett said, was crucial.
“If the state moves in a more purple — towards a blue — direction, then there is, of course, an interest by the lieutenant governor to try to secure a supermajority and maintain control because things don’t stay the same in politics. It’s not static; it’s very dynamic,” Crocket said.
Joey Palacios contributed to this report.