All the Texas Right to Life endorsed statewide candidates won (Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, etc.). Twenty of our Congressional candidates won, including three new candidates who defeated pro-abortion incumbents. The State Senate remained the same with 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats. The count in the State House is now 99 Republicans and 51 Democrats. One race will be recounted as the Pro-Life Republican lost by only 15 votes.
For the last two years, the count in the State House has been 77 Republicans, and 73 Democrats. While not all the Republicans are Pro-Life, Republicans picked up 22 State House seats, delivering a stronger Pro-Life majority. Three Pro-Life Democrats retained their seats. The next order of business in the State House will be to determine if the House members will elect a new speaker.
All 150 House members vote for a speaker of the State House on the first day of each biennial legislative session; the speaker then appoints all the other House members to serve on the various committees in the House. The chairs of the State Affairs, the Public Health, and the Appropriations (State Budget) Committees are key to the passage (or the demise) of Pro-Life measures. State Representative Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) was elected Speaker of the Texas House in 2009 by all the Democrats plus 11 moderate Republicans; Speaker Straus then appointed these supporters as chairs of the committees, resulting in few controversial issues moving through the House in a timely manner for passage.
While Speaker Straus and his lieutenants (the committee chairs) are not abortion advocates, their avoidance of hot-button issues (not only Pro-Life issues, but also immigration, voter identification, campaign finance reform, sanctity of marriage, etc.) and political maneuvering fatally stalled the Pro-Life bills in 2009. The recent elections delivered a class of new, committed Pro-Life members to the State House, and they will insist on passing Pro-Life bills regardless of who is elected Speaker of the Texas House.
Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst is still at the helm of the State Senate. He will again have to find ways to secure the 21 votes needed to bring a bill to the Senate floor for debate. Once a bill is considered on the Senate floor, only a simple majority is needed for passage, thus, the real hurdle is the 21 votes for consideration. In the past, Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst has masterfully collected the votes needed, and he has overseen the passage of numerous Pro-Life bills out of the Senate since 2003, only to see these bills die in the House.
Pro-Lifers sent a clear message to elected officials across the state by electing men and women to the U. S. House of Representatives and the State House who will champion the sanctity of innocent human life.