Texas Political News

This year’s March primary saw millions of dollars dumped into republican primary races from socially conservative republican groups, as well as establishment republican groups. It is clear the real battles are still fought in the primaries in Texas. There are several seats headed to run-offs pitting socially conservative republican candidates against establishment republican candidates.

Primary run-offs are scheduled for May 22, 2018. The results of the run-offs will give the winning republican side momentum heading into the race to replace retiring Speaker Joe Straus (R – San Antonio), as leader of the Texas House. There are also two seats up for grabs in special elections, and another potentially headed to a special election.

Upcoming Special Elections:

  • House District 13 – The seat is already vacated by former State Rep. Leighton Schubert (Caldwell), and the special election to fill his unexpired term is set for May 5, 2018. The winner of the special election will serve in the interim until the Legislature convenes in January, 2019 for the 86th Legislative Session. Republican Jill Wolfskill (Bellville), Republican Ben Leman (Brenham), and Democrat Cecil Ray Webster, Sr. (Carmine) have all filed for the special election. In the recent March republican primary, Ben Leman got 36% of the vote, and Jill Wolfskill received 38%. The winner of that run-off will take the seat for the 86th Legislature.
  • Senate District 6 – State Sen. Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston) is headed for D.C. having won the democratic primary for the heavily democratic congressional district. Current State Rep. Ana Hernandez (D-Houston) and current State Rep. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston) have announced their runs for the vacated seat in special election likely to happen later this year. However, the special election cannot be triggered until Sen. Garcia resigns from her State Senate seat, which she has yet to do.

Potential Upcoming Special Election:

  • Senate District 19 – State Sen. Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio) was recently found guilty of 11 federal felony charges including fraud and money laundering. If the verdict is upheld at the appellate level, Uresti would be ineligible to serve in the State Legislature. That would spark a special election. Current State Rep. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio) has already announced his candidacy for the potential seat. Former U.S. Congressman and Former State Rep. Pete Gallego (Alpine) has also formed a campaign to run for the seat. The appeals process could take some time, and Uresti still has 2 years left in his seat…as such it is unknown when or if a special election will occur.

Upcoming Run-off Elections:

There is one (1) Democratic Run-off in the Senate to select a candidate to oppose the incumbent Republican Senator:

  • Joan Huffman (R-Houston) in District 17 – Huffman will face the winner of the Democratic Primary Run-off between Rita Lucido (Houston) who got 48.9% of the vote, and Fran Watson (Houston) who got 35% of the vote.

Two (2) incumbent Representatives will be in a primary run-off election:

  • Rene Oliveira (D-Brownsville) in District 37 – Oliveira’s Democratic Primary Run-off pits him against Cameron County Commissioner Alex Dominguez (Brownsville). Incumbent Oliveira got 48.5% of the vote, while Dominguez received 36%.
  • Scott Cosper (R-Killeen) in District 54 – Cosper’s Republican Primary Run-off challenger is veterinarian Brad Buckley (Killeen). Incumbent Cosper took 44.6% of the vote, while Buckley received 41.5%.

There are primary run-off elections in eight (8) open seats:

  • House District 4 – Republican Primary Run-off between Keith Bell (Forney) who got 26% of the vote, and Stuart Spitzer (Kaufman) who got 45% of the vote (seat being vacated by Representative Lance Gooden).
  • House District 8 – Republican Primary Run-off between Cody Harris (Palestine) who got 45% of the vote, and Thomas McNutt (Corsicana) who got 39% of the vote (seat being vacated by Representative Byron Cook).
  • House District 13 – Republican Primary Run-off between Ben Leman (Brenham) who got 36% of the vote, and Jill Wolfskill (Bellville) who got 38% of the vote (seat vacated by Representative Leighton Schubert).
  • House District 45 – Democratic Primary Run-off between Rebecca Bell-Metereau (San Marcos) who got 45% of the vote, and Erin Zwiener (Driftwood) who got 30% of the vote (seat being vacated by Representative Jason Isaac).
  • House District 46 – Democratic Primary Run-off between Sheryl Cole (Austin) who got 38% of the vote, and Jose “Chito” Vela (Austin) who got 39% of the vote (Representative Dawnna Dukes did not make the Run-off).
  • House District 62 – Republican Primary Run-off between Brent Lawson (Van Alstyne) who got 34% of the vote, and Reggie Smith (Van Alstyne) who got 45% of the vote (seat being vacated by Representative Larry Phillips)
  • House District 109 – Democratic Primary Run-off between Deshaundra Lockhart Jones (DeSoto) who got 44% of the vote, and Carl Sherman (DeSoto) who got 40% of the vote (seat being vacated by Representative Helen Giddings).
  • House District 121 – Republican Primary Run-off between Steve Allison (San Antonio) who got 26% of the vote, and Matt Beebe (San Antonio) who got 29% of the vote (seat being vacated by Representative/Speaker Joe Straus).

There will be run-off elections in three (3) Democratic Primaries to determine who will challenge Republican incumbents:

  • Paul Workman (R-Austin) in District 47 – Democratic Primary Run-off between Elaina Fowler (Austin) who got 29% of the vote, and Vikki Goodwin (Austin) who got 33% of the vote.
  • Lynn Stucky (R-Sanger) in District 64 – Democratic Primary Run-off between Andrew Morris (Sanger), who got 38% of the vote, and Mat Pruneda (Denton) who got 41% of the vote.
  • Jim Murphy (R-Houston) in District 133 – Democratic Primary Run-off between Sandra G. Moore (Houston) who got 49.95% of the vote, and Marty Schexnayder (Houston) who got 40.9% of the vote.

There will be a run-off election in one (1) Republican Primary to determine who will challenge the incumbent Democratic Representative:

  • Victoria Neave (D-Dallas) in District 107 – Republican Primary Run-off between Former US Navy fighter pilot Joe Ruzicka (Dallas) who got 27% of the vote, and attorney Deanna Maria Metzger (Mesquite) who got 45% of the vote. It will be interesting to see what happens: HD-107 is one of Texas’ few swing districts, with an Optimal Republican Voting Strength (ORVS) score of 50.9%, i.e. – dead even.

Now that most of the primary races have been decided, the legislature is back to interim work, scheduling a slew of committee hearings in April:

Texas Senate:

  • Transportation Committee will meet on April 24, 2018 at 9 AM to discuss how to cut red tape to speed up transportation projects, hear TxDOT testimony on how it selects projects and how those selections achieve goals in the statewide transportation plan, and monitor the implementation of transportation related legislation, including TxDOT’s sunset legislation.

Texas House:

  • Insurance Committee is set to meet on April 12, 2018 at 10 AM to discuss Hurricane Harvey’s effect on the insurance market, the coverage provided by the most common homeowners’ insurance policies, as well as review the minimum liability limits for automobile insurance.
  • Transportation Committee is set to meet on April 17, 2018 at 10 AM and again at 1 AM to study the ability of TxDOT to deliver highway projects that reduce congestion and improve mobility in the state, as well as how to improve road quality in areas heavily traveled by heavy oil and gas exploration vehicles.
  • Appropriations – Subcommittee on Articles I, IV & V will meet on April 18, 2018 at 8 AM to review funding for adult probation departments, the juvenile justice system, the state crime lab and monitor DPS’ efforts to eliminate the sexual assault kit backlog.
  • Appropriation Committee will meet on April 18, 2018 at 10 AM to study strategies to use the Rainy Day Fund for state obligations without compromising the funds intended purpose. The committee will also review: (1) funding and deferral methods used in the 2018-2019 budget, (2) the implementation of new processes in state agency contract awards to vendors and the monitoring of those contracts, (3) the implementation of new cybersecurity measures in state agencies, and (4) the use of state funds for border security operations.
  • Public Health Committee will meet on April 19, 2018 at 10 AM to study the treatment of traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s, and dementia, as well as the processes in organ and bone marrow donations.
  • Human Services Committee will meet on April 24, 2018 at 9 AM to review the impact managed care has had on the cost and quality of healthcare, as well as review Managed Care Organization’s (MCOs) policies in the state and whether the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) should improve their oversight of MCOs.
  • Investments & Financial Services Committee will meet on April 24, 2018 at 10:30 AM to study the impact of large-scale data security breaches of credit bureau’s and identify ways to protect Texans from these breaches. They will also study advancements in financial technology and evaluate opportunities to work with businesses in fostering innovation in the financial industry.
  • Texas Ports, Innovation and Infrastructure – Select Committee will meet in Corpus Christi, TX on April 30, 2018 at 10 AM to review changes in code required to modernize maritime-related port access and freight mobility needs, and also study how to keep Texas ports globally competitive in the future.

Stay tuned for more updates.