Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Republicans have kept control of a Texas House seat after a special runoff election fight that was considered by many a bellwether for Democratic hopes of flipping the chamber in November.
Republican businessman Gary Gates defeated Democratic educator Eliz Markowitz Tuesday night in the race to serve the rest of retiring Republican John Zerwas' term. Gates won with 52 percent of the vote for the seat representing a portion of suburban Houston. Markowitz won 42 percent in the vote for the traditionally GOP seat.
That 10-point margin of victory was roughly twice that which Zerwas received in 2018. Gates will now serve as representative of Texas House District 28 until November's regular election, keeping the seat under Republican control in spite of a nationally watched effort by Democrats to take it.
The Fort Bend County district was considered by Democrats one of the more promising prospects in their bid to gain nine seats and take control of the Texas House ahead of redistricting this year.
A strong performance by then-Rep. Beto O'Rourke against incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2018 propelled Democratic hopes of winning enough support to win in suburban areas of Texas. O'Rourke had lent strong personal support to Markowitz and drew volunteers from across the state and the nation to work on her behalf, but Gates still posted a decisive victory.
"Democrats everywhere said this Texas election was a 'bellwether' -- and that it would set the tone for the entire 2020 election cycle," said Austin Chambers, president of the Republican State Leadership Committee. "Spoiler alert: they're right, it was -- just not with the outcome Democrats hoped for."
O'Rourke said in a Facebook post that although Markowitz lost, Democrats will have another chance in 10 months.
"[Markowitz] is on the ballot again," he said. "November, of course, is going to have a much higher turnout, which bodes well for her, and she's got this army of volunteers, myself included."