An announcement Wednesday caught most everyone in Texas politics by surprise — Sen. Beverly Powell withdrew from her reelection campaign.
The race pitted the incumbent Democrat against current State Rep. Phil King, of Weatherford.
Powell called the coming November results predetermined after Senate District 10 was redrawn by lawmakers.
There’s no doubt the voter population of that district shifted. Powell’s territory had previously covered all of Tarrant County, among others, and the new district stretches out to seven counties to the west and south, more rural areas with a larger white population.
The voting age populations of Latinos, Blacks and Asian Americans were all decreased in the district while the white voting age population increased by nearly 10%. The redrawn district would have voted for Donald Trump by 16 points, and previously leaned for Joe Biden by 8 points, according to an analysis by the Texas Tribune.
Powell and others have called the changes clear violations of the Voting Rights Act which, until 2013, had required federal government approval before the state could make changes to voting laws. It’s worth noting that Texas has not made it through a single decade since the act’s passage in 1965 without being admonished by a federal court for violating federal protections for voters of color.
King hasn’t been officially guaranteed the seat, but Powell would have had to withdraw due to catastrophic illness, an appointment or election to another office or if no other party has nominee in order for the Texas Democratic Party to replace her nomination. As of press time, none of those had been announced.
Little to no competition is nothing new for King, who has dominated District 61 since he was first elected to the office in 1999. His closest competition may have come in 2008, when he faced a popular Weatherford face in Joe Tison. King still sailed with 64 percent of votes in Parker and Wise counties.
As for Powell, she says she can’t ask her dedicated supporters for their time and resources on an “unwinnable race.”
Quitting won’t get you the results you desire, and now King has a clear path with virtually no roadblocks. We don’t know if Powell had a chance to win before, but we know she definitely doesn’t now.
“That time and those resources are better spent on efforts that will advance our causes and on the continuing efforts to restore voting rights,” she said.
That may very well be true. But we’ll never know.