The Texas Political Report: A Joint Project of Burnt Orange Report and Annie's List

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One of my biggest projects for Burnt Orange Report in recent election cycles has been the “Burnt Orange Political Report.” Launched on October 3, 2006 — and reprised exactly two years later, on October 3, 2008 — the report focused on competitive races in Texas. Feedback following those two reports, however, suggested that I move the timeline back a month and start earlier — so here we are, with a new date, and a new name.

The Texas Political Report is an overview of the most competitive races in Texas. Today, it launches with region-based coverage of twenty-one State House races. The pages for each State House district will evolve and expand in the coming weeks as we gather more feedback from both campaigns and people on the ground on the state of the races.

The content on each of the State House races is straightforward:

  • An overview of the district, the issues, and the candidates in the race
  • Fundraising totals from the June 30 report in each race
  • Links to the district map and most recent election results for each race
  • A one-stop shop for website, Facebook, and Twitter links for each candidate in each race

In approximately a month, I will re-evaluate the races — re-assessing field plans, and examining 30-day out finance reports — and most likely introduce the traditional “ranking” system for the project. For now, each State House race feature contains an argument on how a Democrat could win. In the next month, we will be updating these pages regularly with fresh content, analysis, audio, video, and more — notifying everyone of any changes on a regular basis. The box atop the top-center of our page will always link you back to this central page, so you can come back and revisit these posts as often as you'd like.

Without further ado, here are the races we've profiled this year:

Houston-Area Races

North Texas-Area Races

Central Texas Races

Other Key Races Across the State

I want to sincerely thank two people who helped me compile this report: Aimee from Annie's List, for all her hard work on researching and evaluating our outstanding female candidates for us, and Ed Martin, my Dad and long-time political consultant whose expertise is always invaluable.

Thanks, and happy reading!


About Author

Phillip Martin

Currently the Research and Policy Director for Progress Texas and the Texas Research Institute, Phillip Martin writes occasional long-form pieces for BOR that promote focused analysis and insight into Texas politics. Born and raised in Austin, Phillip started working in politics in 2003 and started writing on BOR in the summer of 2005. Phillip has worked for the Texas Democratic Trust, the Texas Legislative Study Group, and now the Progress Texas family. He is a lifelong Houston Astros fan, a loyal Longhorn, and loves swimming at Barton Springs Pool.


  1. This is a fine piece of work
    This joint project discounts the very possibility in Texas of what Bill Galston calls a “wave” election, like 1994 or 2002.

    But, both state party establishments are artifacts today of the bi-partisan concession-tending that dominates (i) Congressional campaign committees out of DC, (ii) the state legislature in Austin, and (iii) local government in cities other than Austin.

    Austin is a sort of theme-park propped up by the River Authorities, the Legislative extraction industry, and, of course, the University plantations, not really a city. In any case, neither Texas party does “waves”. Those sweep into Texas from other states despite the reactionary liberals and conservatives in Austin.

    Still, this may not be a wave election. We just do not know, yet. And, even if it is, the particulars of local races detailed in this fine report will still have a marginal effect.

    All I can add is …


    The Frost/Baron/Angle's 2005 plan to Turn Texas Blue and, thereby, to control re-districting is probably dead, even under the best of circumstances.

    The reason is, simply, that to do anything that radical the TDP has to be competitive rather than collaborative and innovative rather than emulative. That is not “rocket science”, but it is not the “Grisham novel” we still live in here, either.


    Two of the Houston races, 133 and 138, are very tight, as concisely described, with one exception: Both will likely be influenced decisively by a charter amendment on the City of Houston ballot involving roads and drainage, also a new tax. This has both bi-partisan opposition (populist) and non-partisan support (establishment).

    Since the GOP is able to raise money as the ruling party in the County and run as the opposition party in the City — leaving Democrats looking hapless and clueless — the net effect of right-wing activism and left-wing neutralism may be to knock off the Democratic incumbent and challenger.


    The catastrophic fire which destroyed the DRE voting plant is like “weather”, including “fog”, in battle. It adversely effects both sides. In government, the GOP has a recovery plan and the Democrats support it. The most prominent feature of that plan is not doing anything — like extending hours or days — that might help Bill White.

    The effect of the fire, in all events, is to make the election process very complex technically and confusing logistically.

    So, with their superior mobilization technology and anti-tax pseudo-populism, the GOP may be able to better exploit the fire. In any case, the effective vote-suppression campaign they run out of the Tax Office is still intact. So, between those two advantages, they may be able to keep the already dismal political participation rate in Harris County low, thereby, sinking Bill White statewide and sweeping the county.

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