By Steve Levine
TMA VP – Communications
While much of the state was engrossed in the obviously engrossing Super Tuesday presidential primary results last night, the Texas Medical Association and TEXPAC teams were studying the legislative and congressional races that will have a big impact on medicine going forward.
Bottom line: we liked what we saw in the party primaries for the Texas House and Senate and U.S. Congress. The candidates who support patients and physicians, by and large, did well – some surprisingly well.
We have a few important runoffs coming up on May 24, and the November general elections will be important at the top of the ballot and for some local races. But most of the makeup of the 2017 Texas Legislature and the 2017 Texas delegation in Congress was decided yesterday.
As TEXPAC Board Chair Brad Holland, MD, pointed out last month, “With so few competitive districts around the state, the action is now, in the party primaries. The men and women who win their party’s nominations in the next few weeks very likely will be the people who will be making the final decisions in the legislature and in the courtrooms next year.”
Here’s our wrap-up of key TEXPAC victories:
Texas House of Representatives:
- Speaker Joe Straus won easily against an onslaught of money and words from outside his San Antonio district.
- State Affairs Committee Chair Byron Cook of Corsicana, Insurance Committee Chair John Frullo of Lubbock, and Insurance Committee Vice Chair Sergio Muñoz of Palmview all defeated strong challengers.
- Former State Rep. High Shine of Temple ousted Rep. Molly White of Belton, who had medicine's second-worst voting record in the 2015 legislative session.
- Key allies of doctors and patients – Reps. J.D. Sheffield, DO, of Gatesville; Jason Villalba of Dallas; Sarah Davis of West University Place; and Cindy Burkett of Sunnyvale – all came home winners.
- There will be another doctor in the House: Anesthesiologist Tom Oliverson, MD, of Houston won his primary and is unopposed in the fall.
- TEXPAC-endorsed candidates won in three other open House seats. In a fifth open seat to replace retiring Public Health Committee Chair Myra Crownover of Denton, the TEXPAC-supported candidate is leading going into the May 24 runoff.
- In Senate District 24, we couldn't ask for anything better. Both of TEXPAC’s endorsed candidates -- one an active TMA leader (ophthalmologist Dawn Buckingham, MD, of Lakeway) and one a nurse married to a TMA past president (Rep. Susan King of Abilene) – are headed to the May 24 runoff.
- The TEXPAC-endorsed candidate in Senate District 1 in East Texas is leading big going into the other Senate open seat runoff.
U.S. House of Representatives
- Ways and Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady of The Woodlands defeated three opponents to win. His committee has primary jurisdiction over Medicare.
- Medicine’s champion – Rep. Michael Burgess, MD, of Denton, the only TMA member in Congress, architect of the bill that repealed Medicare’s hated Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula -- won handily.
- Rep. Gene Green of Houston – ranking member of the Subcommittee on Health – won his race.