In 2018, 12 challengers beat their district’s incumbents and took their place in the Texas House. The majority of those challengers proved their commitment to pro-equality values through joining the House LGBTQ Caucus, sponsoring pro-LGBTQ+ legislation and helping strategize on the House floor. They were true allies, and all 12 received a B+ or above on our 2019 Legislative Scorecard.
Those gains in 2018 are part of the reason the House LGBTQ Caucus exists at all — 3 of the 5 founding members were elected for the first time in 2018. While the spotlight has been shining brightly on the seats we can flip to oust anti-LGBTQ+ legislators, it’s just as important to hold the gains made in the 2018 midterms. Those races were close in 2018, and many remain close today.
Here are the races we’re keeping an extra close eye on:
Both Julie Johnson and Eric Zwiener were elected as freshmen in 2018, became founding members of the House LGBTQ Caucus, and were instrumental in killing anti-LGBTQ+ bills during the 2019 legislative session. Representative Johnson ousted a notoriously anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ+ incumbent and was named Freshman of the Year for her work during the session by Texas Monthly. Representative Zwiener won her race by a little over 3% of the vote and fought hard for sexual harassment protections and environmental conservation in addition to LGBTQ+ issues. Reps Johnson and Zwiener are absolutely critical to our work to push for full lived equality for LGBTQ+ Texans moving forward.
Gina Calanni and Vikki Goodwin made a strong push for pro-equality issues in front of and behind the scenes. They both co-authored important pro-LGBTQ+ legislation and helped employ tactics to keep bad bills from moving out of the House. Their districts, where they each won in 2018 with a margin of less than 5%, are top targets of anti-LGBTQ+ fundraising.
Rhetta Bowers and John Turner were important allies in the last legislative session and helped implement strategies to defeat bills that would hurt LGBTQ+ Texans. They are also on the target list of anti-LGBTQ+ donors determined to erode support for equality.
Below is the full list of 12 pro-equality incumbents (in district order) who flipped the script last election cycle and brought a new approach to LGBTQ+ issues. Securing a win in every one of these districts is critical to reach our goal of a pro-equality majority in the Texas House. If we succeed, the House will serve as an important barrier to anti-LGBTQ+ bills. If harmful bills can’t pass the House, they won’t have a chance to become law. With this incredible opportunity in reach, we need to pull out all the stops to hold these crucial districts and remind folks to vote down-ballot. Help us get out the vote today!