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Republicans clinch supermajority in Texas House

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December 17, 2010

By Jimmy Ardis

Partisan breakdown of states after November 2 election.
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AUSTIN, Texas: Christmas came early this year for Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives after two Democrats announced Tuesday that they were switching parties, resulting in a GOP supermajority.[1] That puts Republicans in the position of being able to, at least in theory, pass legislation without any votes from Democrats.

Republicans cleaned house at the ballot box in November and finished the elections with 99 of the 150 House seats. One more seat would have given them the coveted two-thirds supermajority. The sudden death of Republican representative Edmund Kuempel potentially put one seat at risk but his son John Kuempel (R) picked up the seat in a special election on Tuesday.[2] Kuempel's District 44 victory in combination with the two Democratic converts put House Republicans at 101 seats in the 82nd Legislature.

Allan Ritter of Nederland gave first word of his intentions to switch parties last Saturday. Aaron Pena of Edinburg soon followed suit. Ritter and Pena formally announced their Republican move on Tuesday at a GOP press conference. Both cited shifts towards conservative values amongst their constituents as reason for their decisions. Texas Democrats were unsurprisingly upset at the news. Speaking of Pena, Representative Trey Martinez Fisher of San Antonio said "One only needs to read a few paragraphs of the state Republican Party platform and realize that Hispanics have very little acceptance in the Republican Party."[1] Boyd Richie, Chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, called for both men to resign and be re-elected as Republicans via special election. Ritter and Pena have voiced opposition to such suggestions.

Summing up the situation Democrats face in 2011, Pena joked "Somebody once told me that if you don't have a seat at the table, you may be on the menu."[1]

The Texas legislative session begins on January 11, 2011.

Senate Partisan Count

Texas State Senate
Party As of November 1, 2010 After the 2010 Election
     Democratic Party 12 12
     Republican Party 19 19
Total 31 31


House Partisan Count

Texas House of Representatives
Party As of November 1, 2010 After the 2010 Election
     Democratic Party 73 51
     Republican Party 76 98
     Vacancy 1 1
Total 150 150


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