TRTA Voter Health Series Recap and Open Seats in the Texas Legislature

Last week, the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) featured a series of articles through the Inside Line about how our members can achieve Good Voter Health! As we head into the primary election season, it is important for our members to be informed and active.

Most political races in Texas are determined DURING THE PRIMARY ELECTION, not the November General Election! While it is important to vote in ALL elections, many voters do not make it to the polls for the Primary Election. Last week, TRTA stressed that our members put early voting for the primary election on their schedules. Remember, because so few people vote in the primary election, EVERY VOTE COUNTS EXPONENTIALLY. Your vote WILL make a difference!

Please keep this in mind: this is NOT a marathon, it’s a sprint! The starting gun has sounded. We must act NOW. We have only until March 4 to make sure that we protect the interests of our members in the Texas Legislature.

Important highlights from last week include:

  1. Be sure you, your family members, friends and fellow retirees are registered to vote! Check the following link from the Texas Secretary of State website to determine your voter registration status:
  2. Determine who your candidates are! Check the Texas Tribune Elections Bracket here:
  3. Do this IMPORTANT TASK: Ask your candidates three vital questions about TRS:
  • Do you support a defined benefit plan for all current and future TRS retirees?
  • Do you support providing reasonable, affordable healthcare for TRS retirees?
  • What will you do as my legislator to ensure that the TRS pension fund and TRS–Care health insurance program are preserved and improved?
  1. Consider other ways you can get involved in the political process and support your candidate of choice. Call your candidate’s campaign office and see how you can help! If your candidate wins, they will absolutely remember your help when the legislature convenes!!
  2. Share information with your fellow retirees about what you have learned from your candidates. Do they support sustaining the TRS defined benefit plan? Let TRTA know and let your friends know as well! If you have not connected with a candidate, CONNECT WITH YOUR FELLOW TRTA MEMBERS IN A LOCAL UNIT AND ASK THEM WHO THEY ARE VOTING FOR AND WHY! TRTA local unit information can be found here:
  3. Above all, VOTE IN THE PRIMARY ELECTION. Don’t wait until March 4 to vote. Schedule a day between February 18 and 28 to VOTE EARLY. Remember, when you vote early, you do NOT have to vote in your precinct. You may vote at any location convenient for you within your county. Review early voting locations in your area here:

Open Seats in the Texas Legislature
Last week, we reviewed several contested Texas Senate and House races that TRTA is following closely. It is very important if you live in an area where a contested race is taking place that you vote during the Primary Election! To review the list of contested races, please read our Voter Health Series Day 5 here:

Today, we are reviewing several races in which the Texas Senate or House seat is OPEN. This means that a new Senator or Representative will be serving the area because the former Senator or Representative resigned, retired or chose not to run for the office again.

This also means that the candidates NEED INFORMATION about TRS! Whoever wins the open seat likely will have a steep learning curve, and it is up to us to educate them on the issues that matter most to us!

If you live in one of the areas where there is an open seat, please get in contact with all candidates and ask them the questions we listed above and offer to provide them with information about TRS. We have included a link to a map for each district. If you are not sure if you reside in the district listed, review the map or use the Texas Legislature website (

Please also remember that when more than one candidate is running on the same party ticket, this will be a “contested” race in the Primary Election. It is VITAL that you get in touch with all candidates and determine their stance on issues relating to TRS. In fairness, we have also listed all other candidates for a position whether or not the candidate faces a Primary challenger. These uncontested candidates WILL face the Primary winners in November.

Open Seats: Texas Senate
Senate District 4 (map:
Formerly served by Senator Tommy Williams

Gordy Bunch (R)
Brandon Creighton (R)
Steve Toth (R)

Senate District 7 (map:
Presently served by Senator Dan Patrick

Paul Bettencourt (R)
James Wilson (R)
Jim Davis (D)
Whitney Bilyeu (L)

Senate District 8 (map:
Presently served by Senator Ken Paxton

Scott Jameson (L)
Van Taylor (R)

Senate District 10 (map:
Presently served by Senator Wendy Davis

Tony Pompa (R)
Jon Schweitzer (R)
Mark Shelton (R)
Mark Skinner (R)
Konni Burton (R)
George Boll (D)
Mike Martinez (D)
Libby Willis (D)
Gene Lord (L)
Gene Woodward, III (L)
John Tunmire (G)

Open Seats: Texas House
House District 10 (map:
Presently served by Representative Jim Pitts

Duke Burge (R)
Jake Ellzey (R)
T.J. Fabby (R)
John Wray (R)

House District 15 (map:
Presently served by Representative Steve Toth

Mark Keough (R)
Bruce Tough (R)

House District 16 (map:
Presently served by Representative Brandon Creighton

Duane Ham (R)
Gary Louie (R)
Will Metcalf (R)
Jason Milsaps (R)
Ted Seago (R)
Steve Simonsen (R)
Michael Hayles, Sr. (D)
Bob Townsend (L)

House District 21 (map:
Presently served by Representative Allan Ritter

Judy Nichols (R)
Dade Phelan (R)
Gavin Bruney (D)
Antonio Diaz (G)

House District 23 (map:
Presently served by Representative Craig Eiland.

Wayne Faircloth (R)
Bob Senter (R)
Susan Criss (D)

House District 50 (map:
Formerly served by Representative Mark Strama who vacated the seat through a resignation. Celia Israel won a run-off election yesterday and she will fill this seat for the remainder of Strama’s term which ends in November. The candidates listed below will also be on the ballot during the Primary Election and November General Election.

Mike VanDeWalle (R)
Celia Israel (D)
David Dreesen (L)

House District 53 (map:
Presently served by Representative Harvey Hilderbran

Karen Harris (R)
Rob Henneke (R)
Andrew S. Murr (R)
Tink Nathan (R)
Wayne Ramsey (R)
B.W. Holk (L)
Maximilian Martin (L)

House District 58 (map:
Presently served by Representative Rob Orr

DeWayne Burns (R)
Phillip Eby (R)
Lyndon Laird (R)
Henry W. Teich (R)
Greg A. Kauffman (D)
Jesse Pistokache, Jr. (L)

House District 66 (map:
Presently served by Representative Van Taylor

Glenn Callison (R)
Stacy Chen (R)
Matt Shaheen (R)
Ian Santorella (L)

House District 81 (map:
Presently served by Representative Tryon D. Lewis

Austin R. Keith (R)
Brooks Landgraf (R)

House District 108 (map:
Presently served by Representative Dan Branch

Court Alley (R)
Morgan Meyer (R)
Chart Wescott (R)
Leigh Bailey (D)

House District 129 (map:
Presently served by Representative John E. Davis

Sheryl Berg (R)
Briscoe Cain (R)
Mary Huls (R)
Jeff Larson (R)
Chuck Maricle (R)
Dennis Paul (R)
Brent Perry (R)
John Gay (D)

House District 132 (map:
Presently served by Representative Bill Callegari

Michael Franks (R)
Ann Hodge (R)
Justin D. Perryman (R)
Mark Schofield (R)
Luiz Lopez (D)

Please help us get the word out about the races listed above if you live in an area with an open seat election, and tell your fellow retirees, family members and friends to get out and VOTE February 18-28 or on March 4! Your vote is essential!

Remember, if the district where you live is predominately Republican, you may vote in the Republican Primary and still vote as a Democrat in November. Likewise, if you live in a predominately Democratic district, you may vote in the Democratic Primary and still vote as a Republican in November. (If you do not want your Voter Registration Card stamped with a party label, simply present your Texas Driver’s License or a valid government photo ID).

Please know that if you vote in a Primary Election for one party and a run-off election for that position occurs, you can vote only in the run-off of the SAME PARTY for which you voted in the Primary. However, you may vote for any candidate you wish in the General Election.

Thank you for being a member of TRTA! If you are not a member and are interested in joining, please contact our Membership Department at 1.800.880.1650.

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