Record amounts of money raised and spent. Ruthless campaign ads and name-calling. A brawl for the history books. Election Day has come and gone, and despite some tough punches, the House of Medicine prevailed.
A couple of races remain too close to call, but the majority of TEXPAC-endorsed candidates will be returning to work — or starting their freshman year — in Austin in January for the 2019 Texas Legislature.
Of particular note is Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place), whose Houston district includes the Texas Medical Center. Representative Davis — a true champion for medicine and the business of health care — won reelection by almost 7 percentage points and will be back in Austin fighting once again for medicine.
Notable new faces in the Texas House include Democrat John Turner, a Dallas-area attorney who defeated an anti-vaccine candidate. Another Democrat, Julie Johnson, also a Dallas-area attorney who’s married to a gastroenterologist, defeated an incumbent who has been openly hostile to medicine throughout his political career.
All seven physician members of the Texas Legislature will return to Austin in January. U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, MD (R-Lewisville), an obstetrician, easily won reelection to his ninth term.
“I want to congratulate all candidates, winners and losers, for their willingness to enter the arena and endure the stress associated with running for office,” said Robert Rogers, MD, chair of the Texas Medical Association’s bipartisan political action committee TEXPAC. “We are relieved to see many of our good friends returning to office, and are excited to have the opportunity to work with newly elected members.”
Overall, Democrats picked up 12 seats in the state House of Representatives, meaning the balance of power moves closer to an even split. Republicans now hold 83 of the 150 seats. What this will mean when lawmakers elect a new Speaker of the House, and subsequent committee chairmanships and memberships are chosen, remains to be seen.
Dr. Rogers applauds Texas physicians for getting involved, noting that grassroots efforts such as block-walking are even more important when races get as personal as they did during this election season.
“Once again, we are reminded of the importance of political involvement by the membership of the TMA, as many of our endorsed candidates won by slim margins,” he said. “TEXPAC will continue to work in a bipartisan manner to further the legislative agenda of the TMA, as it seeks to improve the health of all Texans.”