Wednesday, July 30, 2014

TX Primary Runoff Preview

Originally published in Red Racing Horses.

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Today is the second-half of the Texas two-step, as the Lone Star state holds its low-turnout runoffs. Polls will close at 8p Eastern.

US House of Representatives

TX-04 (R): Former US Attorney John Ratcliffe has a decent shot at defeating the first incumbent in a primary this cycle, octogenarian Rep. Ralph Hall. But although Ratcliffe has garnered support from some national conservative organizations like CfG and the Madison Project, the biggest issue in this race is not ideological. Instead, Ratcliffe has focused on Hall's long tenure while calling for term limits. Hall ran a bad campaign too late before the primary, and it's unclear if support from much of the Texas congressional delegation (including former Rep. Ron Paul) can push him over the top. Still, he took 45% to Ratcliffe's 29% in the first round, and outside groups have only become more excited about the race as they see a rare opportunity to defeat an incumbent. Even if he loses, Ratcliffe is probably the frontrunner for when Hall retires next cycle. [UPDATE: RATCLIFFE WON]

TX-23 (R): Former Rep. Quico Canseco and Will Hurd face each other for the right to lose one of the most disappointing seats this cycle. A third candidate, Paulite Dr. Robert Lowry, endorsed Hurd, but Canseco should have name recognition from his single term in Congress. Either way, Hurd and Canseco are both likely to lose to first-term Rep. Pete Gallego (D). [UPDATE: HURD WON]

TX-36 (R): For some reason, this district never garners much attention. Last cycle, the race hid under the radar so well that Rep. Steve Stockman won a primary and runoff through some nasty fake newspapers and a single congressional term in the 1990s. This time, former TX AFP Chairman Ben Streusand faces former Woodville (pop. 2500) Mayor Brian Babin. Unlike in TX-04, there are some clear ideological divisions in this race, with Babin emphasizing his rural perspective (appealing to the east Texas chunk of this seat) and attacking Streusand for insufficiently supporting NASA, which is based in the district. However, Streusand has promised not to vote for Boehner for Speaker and has funneled over $600k into his own bid, attacking Babin for supporting tax increases when he served on his local school board. In the first round Babin led Streusand 33%-23% in a crowded field. Like in TX-04, this seat is safe Republican- whoever wins will become a congressman. [UPDATE: BABIN WON] 

Statewide Races

Lt. Governor (R): This race turned the nastiest on the ballot, and that's saying something in rough and tumble Texas politics. Former candidate Jerry Patterson leaked records of a long-ago hospitalization state Senator Dan Patrick underwent for mental health reasons. Now incumbent David Dewhurst has had to distance himself from Patterson. This race is not quite a redux of 2012, when Dewhurst lost the narrative and US Senate seat to Ted Cruz. For one, Patterson and many Paul supporters (Ron Paul endorsed Dewhurst, who has been robocalling that information out to Paul supporters) are supporting Dewhurst this time around (and Patrick actually supported Dewhurst in 2012). But Patrick led with 41% in the first round, and it is hard to see the popular radio host losing this runoff. [UPDATE: PATRICK WON]

Attorney General (R): Two Dallas-area State Reps., Ken Paxton and Dan Branch, will face off for the open seat of gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott. Paxton, who took 43% in the first round, is the Tea Party-aligned candidate, having previously tried to dislodge State House Speaker Joe Straus. Branch (32%) is the establishment pick, and won the endorsement of Barry Smitherman, who took 25% in the first round and finished third. [UPDATE: PAXTON WON]

Railroad Commissioner (R): Whoever wins this, either former state Rep. Wayne Christian or Friendswood businessman / 2012 state Senate candidate Ryan Sitton, will occupy a powerful regulatory post over oil and gas. They will also be able to raise a lot of money, but it won't be worth a darn for running for another office (see Michael Williams, Barry Smitherman, and other failed candidates). Sitton is relatively undefined but has spent a chunk of his own money on the race, while Christian was an early supporter of Ted Cruz. [UPDATE: SITTON WON]

Ag Commissioner (R): Former state Reps. Tommy Merritt and Sid Miller face each other. Merritt was pushed out of his seat by insurgent state Rep. Jonathan Stickland in 2010, while Miller can tout an endorsement from Governor Rick Perry. Miller is expected to win this thing, but most surprising is the fact that the Texas Farm Bureau has opted not to endorse in this runoff. [UPDATE: MILLER WON]

Ag Commissioner (D): Here's an example of how parochial Texas Democrats can be. When they have a chance to put up a prominent name with an independent brand, they instead hope for a no-name candidate to preserve their little fiefdom. 2006 independent gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman is favored to win a runoff against Jim Hogan, who has not run a functional campaign. However, weird things can happen in the down-ballot Democratic races, and some primary voters may not forgive Friedman for either running or endorsing against Democratic candidates in past races. [UPDATE: HOGAN WON]

US Senate


US Senate (D): Wealthy dentist and past congressional candidate David Alameel is the likely nominee, but LaRouchie activist Kesha Rogers is doing everything thing she can to make his campaign look like amateur hour. The better Rogers does, the worse Alameel looks. [UPDATE: ALAMEEL WON]

State Senate

TX-SD-02 (R): State Senator Robert Deuell faces Bob Hall in this north Texas seat. He barely avoided a runoff in the first round and is expected to win today. [UPDATE: HALL WON]

TX-SD-10 (R): Nothing much has changed in this race since the March primary. Former state Rep. Mark Shelton continues to face Tea Partier Konni Burton in the primary. Burton still has the endorsement of Senator Ted Cruz, his sole legislative endorsement this cycle. If Patrick wins as expected and Burton wins this contest, expect a very interesting and conservative state Senate next session. [UPDATE: BURTON WON]

State House
 
TX-HD-10 (R): Like the below race, this is a pitched battle between Paulites and anti-Straus Tea Partiers on one side and everybody else on the other in this seat where a prominent Straus backer retired. TJ Fabby is supported by the former, while John Wray, the Mayor of Waxahachie, is the "establishment" candidate. Wray drew the support of retired US Navy fighter pilot and third-place finisher Jake Ellzey in this Ellis County seat. [UPDATE: WRAY WON
TX-HD-58 (R): This is one of two runoffs Paulites are looking to win in and expand their small caucus. It is also a top target for anti-Straus outside groups (particularly Empower Texans), who hope to pack the caucus with a sufficient number of legislators to take down the Speaker. These insurgents back Philip Eby in the race, who led in the first round, over Cleburne School Board Vice President DeWayne Burns. [UPDATE: BURNS WON]

TX-HD-76 (D): What's most interesting in this west Texas race is that the incumbent, state Rep. Naomi Gonzalez, lost in the primary after receiving a DWI last year. But Gonzalez herself defeated one of the current candidates in the runoff back in 2010, former state Rep. Norma Chavez. Chavez had a confrontational reputation from her previous tenure in the House, and she trailed Cesar Blanco, former Chief of Staff to Rep. Pete Gallego.[UPDATE: BLANCO WON]

TX-HD-102 (R): After state Rep. Stefani Carter (R) ran for Railroad Commission and failed to gain traction, she returned to run for re-election to the legislature. However, jumping back into the race late, she actually trailed former Dallas City Councilor Linda Koop 35%-33% in the March primary. Carter is an African American woman, so expect the media to read a lot more into the results if she loses than the fact she had a strong opponent and jumped back into the race very late. [UPDATE: KOOP WON]

TX-HD-105 (D): A former state Rep. defeated incumbent Linda Harper-Brown in the Republican primary for this swing seat, creating a rare opportunity for Democrats to go offense in the state House. Democrats have a runoff between Susan Motley and Terry Meza.

TX-HD-108 (R): This is another race that has gotten dirty in recent weeks. Lawyer Morgan Meyer has the momentum, picking up the support of outgoing Rep. Dan Branch. Further, his opponent Chart Westcott lost several big-name endorsements, including former Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach (an important Republican in the DFW region), after he accused Meyer of drunk driving in recent graphic mailings. [UPDATE MEYER WON]

TX-HD-129 (R): Sometimes runoffs can be sleepy affairs, like this one between SREC members Dennis Paul and Sheryl Berg in this Clear Lake area seat. Someone will win, and I can't really bring myself to care who. [UPDATE: PAUL WON]

TX-HD-132 (R): Katy Chamber of Commerce CEO Ann Hodge and former Perry advisor Mike Schofield face each other. Schofield has taken a lot of hits from Hodge for moving into the Katy-based district to run. But Schofield led with almost 45% of the vote in the first round, so Hodge has some catching up to do. [UPDATE SCHOFIELD WON]

General Resources

Burnt Orange Report compiled endorsements from primary opponents in every runoff.
Texas Tribune has their own primary preview.

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