The first time she ran for the District 148 seat in the Texas House of Representatives, less than a year ago, Penny Morales Shaw placed sixth among 15 candidates.
On Tuesday, in the runoff from the Democratic primary earlier this year, she finished first while unseating the incumbent who had beaten her twice before.
Morales Shaw edged State Rep. Anna Eastman by a margin of 200 votes, according to unofficial runoff results released Tuesday night by the office of interim Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins. If Morales Shaw maintains the victory once the results are canvassed and made official, she will face Republican Lui La Rotta in the general election in November, with the winner representing District 148 in the next Texas Legislature session early in 2021.
Beating Eastman amounts to a remarkable comeback for Morales Shaw, an attorney who placed second in the March 3 primary after receiving an endorsement from Jessica Farrar, the Democrat who represented District 148 for 25 years before retiring last September. Morales Shaw received 22.1 percent of the 14,799 votes cast in March, compared to 41.6 percent for Eastman.
Eastman, the former Houston ISD trustee who lives in the Heights, was the leading vote-getter in the special election to replace Farrar last November and then beat La Rotta in January’s runoff to earn a seat in the Texas House. She appeared poised to keep that seat after the March primary, but Morales Shaw gained ground leading up to a runoff that was delayed two months by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Morales Shaw held a six-vote lead over Eastman after early voting and gradually pulled away on Election Day. She received 4,335 votes, or 51.2 percent of the 8,470 total votes cast, compared to 4,135 votes for Eastman.
“At the end of the day, I believe we ran an honest campaign for the people,” Eastman wrote on Twitter late Tuesday night. “Congrats (Morales Shaw). Represent us well.”
There were a few other runoff races of interest to area residents, both in the Democratic and Republican primaries.
Wendell Champion easily outpaced Robert M. Cadena for the Republican nomination for the District 18 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, which has long been occupied by Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee. Champion appeared on 71.8 percent of the 5,481 ballots cast, while Cadena received 28.2 of the vote.
In a Republican runoff between candidates for Harris County Sheriff, Joe Danna beat Paul Day by receiving 51.5 percent of the 63,266 votes cast. Danna will face Democrat Ed Gonzalez, the incumbent, in November.
In a tweet late Tuesday night, MJ Hegar declared victory over Royce West in the Democratic runoff for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican John Cornyn, while West said on Twitter that he would issue a statement Wednesday morning after all votes are tallied. According to multiple news reports, Hegar led by 4 percentage points with 79 percent of precincts reporting.