Capital Highlights: Trump victory turns eyes to possible cabinet nominees

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AUSTIN — Republican Donald J. Trump, on his way to winning the presidential election on Nov. 8, won the vote in Texas with 4,651,955 votes, or 52.39 percent of the 8,878,152 votes cast. 

Some 2,842,553 votes, or 43 percent, were cast by Texans for former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, in the race for the White House.

From now until his inauguration, president-elect Trump must choose people to flesh out his administration. A few names floated as possible nominees for cabinet-level appointments turned up in various journals last week. Texans among those were:

  • U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul of Austin, chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security;
  • U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Dallas, chair of the House Financial Services Committee;
  • U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, Senate majority whip and former member of the Texas Supreme Court;
  • Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and former state representative; and
  • Rick Perry, former governor, agriculture commissioner and state representative.

Spotlight on Nov. 8 results

All incumbent members of the Texas congressional delegation won re-election on Nov. 8. 

In the two contests for open seats:

  • Democrat Vicente Gonzalez won the race for U.S. House District 15. Gonzalez will succeed U.S. Rep. Ruben Hinojosa Sr., who is retiring. The district, which stretches from east of San Antonio down to McAllen, includes the counties of Guadalupe, Wilson, Karnes, Live Oak, Jim Hogg, Duval, Brooks and Hidalgo.
  • Republican Jodey Arrington won the race for U.S. House District 19. Arrington will succeed U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer, who is retiring. The district includes the West Texas counties of Bailey, Borden, Castro, Cochran, Crosby, Fisher, Gaines, Garza, Hale, Haskell, Hockley, Howard, Jones, Kent, Lamb, Lubbock, Lynn, Nolan, Parmer, Scurry, Shackelford, Stonewall, Taylor, Terry, Throckmorton, Yoakum and Young and parts of  Floyd and Stephens. 

Challengers bested four incumbent state representatives and one state appellate justice: 

  • Three-term Republican State Rep. Kenneth Sheets, whose House District 107 includes most of Mesquite and parts of Dallas and Garland, lost a close race to Democrat Victoria Neave, an attorney and community advocate.
  • One-term state Rep. Rick Galindo, R-San Antonio, lost by two percentage points to Democrat Philip Cortez in House District 117, which includes south and west Bexar County.
  • One-term state Rep. Gilbert Pena, R-Houston, lost by nearly 21 percentage points to Democrat Mary Ann Perez, an insurance agent and former state representative who was elected to the House District 144 seat in 2012 and lost to Pena in 2014. The district includes parts of east Houston, half of South Houston, and parts of Pasadena and Baytown. 
  • State Rep. John Lujan, R-San Antonio, who won a special election in January 2016 to succeed retiring House District 118 Rep. Joe Farias, lost by 10 percentage points to Democrat Tomas Uresti. The district includes south San Antonio, Somerset, Elmendorf, St. Hedwig, Selma and Universal City in Bexar County.
  • In the race for the 4th Court of Appeals, Place 6, Justice Jason Pulliam of San Antonio, a Republican, lost by three percentage points to Democrat Irene Rios of San Antonio, a former Bexar County court-at-law judge. The court is comprised of seven justices who hear cases from 32 counties in South Texas and the Texas Hill Country.

In a few other races:

  • Former state Rep. Wayne Christian, a Republican, won a seat on the three-member Texas Railroad Commission with 53 percent of the vote.
  • Current state Rep. Borris Miles, D-Houston, won the race to succeed retiring longtime state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, with 92.5 percent of the vote. Senate District 13 includes parts of Harris County and Fort Bend County.
  • Republican Dawn Buckingham, a medical doctor, surgeon and former school board member, won the race to succeed retiring state Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, with 72.4 percent of the vote. Senate District 24 includes the Central Texas counties of Taylor, Callahan, Brown, Comanche, Mills, Hamilton, San Saba, Lampasas, Coryell, Bell, Burnet, Llano, Burnet, Kerr, Gillespie, Blanco and part of Travis County.
  • Democrat Barbara Gervin-Hawkins won the race for House District 120 over independent state Rep. Laura Thompson, who won a special election to finish the unexpired term of longtime Democratic state Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, who resigned from office in January 2016, due to illness. The district includes the part of Bexar County that includes the cities of Kirby and Windcrest, and parts of Converse and San Antonio.

Emergency funds called for

The Senate Finance Committee Workgroup on Child Protection met on Nov. 7 and issued the following recommendations for emergency funding to address deficits in care:

  • A $12,000 annual pay raise for frontline caseworkers, to be phased in for new workers; and
  • The immediate hire of 50 investigative caseworkers and 50 special investigators to ensure timely face-to-face contact with children following an allegation of abuse or neglect. 

Sen. Jane Nelson, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said, "This is the first step of a continuing effort, but rest assured we will do everything we can to protect children. There is no issue of greater importance." 

Hegar sends tax rebates

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on Nov. 9 announced he would send cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts $737.9 million in local sales tax allocations for November, 0.8 percent more than in November 2015. 

These allocations are based on sales made in September by businesses that report tax monthly, and sales made in July, August and September by quarterly filers. 

Ed Sterling is Director of Member Services for the Texas Press Association. 

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