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After months of confusion, three redistricting maps, and a delayed primary, Texans finally have the chance to vote in Congressional primaries on May 29.  (Early voting began on May 8th and concluded May 25th).  Like many Southern states, a runoff will be held in districts where no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote.  While May 29th will not decide many elections, it will winnow the field in many crowded races and gauge how vulnerable several incumbents are.  Given that only a small number of Texas's districts will be in play in November, the May 29th elections and the July 31st runoffs will be tantamount to victory in most of these races.

Due to the creation of four new Congressional Districts and the retirements of two veteran Congressmen, Texas will have at least six freshmen in its next delegation.  Additionally, at least six Congressmen appear to be in some danger in their primaries, and one more is vulnerable in the general election.  Texas has already produced some of the most influential Congressmen the nation has seen: love them or hate them, but there's no doubt that former Congressmen Lyndon Johnson, George H.W. Bush, Sam Rayburn, Tom DeLay, Barbara Jordan, Phil Gramm, and Dick Armey left their mark on American politics.  There's always the possibility that the people reelected and reelected in 2012 will join them.  

What follows is a guide to the 2012 Congressional Elections in Texas.  All races are rated on a five ★ scale to determine how competitive they are.  Since most of these races will be effectively decided in the Democratic/ GOP primaries, I find this rating a much more informative way of describing these races than by saying which party is favored in November.  (Though I do say that too).  

A ★ race is the most boring race there is.  The winner is all but predetermined and short of a massive scandal or horrific gaffe, there is no need to take a second look at this race.  Except for a few of these one ★ races, I mostly skip over any description of these elections; this is mostly because there are only so many interesting ways of saying "Congressman X has a very weak primary challenger and will be assured victory in November due to his party's dominance of this district."

A ★★ race has the potential to be competitive, but has one candidate who is heavily favored.  

A ★★★ race is competitive, with at least two candidates having a reasonable chance to win, but one candidate is still the clear favorite.

A ★★★★ features a very competitive race.  There is a slight favorite, but s/he faces at least one strong opponent who has the potential to pull off an upset.

A ★★★★★ race is reserved for the most competitive races in the state.  These are the elections where millions will be spent from both inside and outside the district, blood and tears will be spilled, and careers will be made or destroyed.  

I don't have any mathematical or scientific formula for rating these races: they're based on my opinion of how competitive the race is.  However, with all the pre-primary fundraising reports in, I do heavily factor in fundraising.  Money isn't everything in politics, but if I feel a candidate isn't raising enough money or is raising a good chunk, that will be a big factor in how I rate their race.  

Now let's get to the races!  

Texas's 1st Congressional District: Louie Gohmert (R), Tyler, Longview, Lufkin.
President: Obama 30%, McCain 69%
Governor: White 31%, Perry 66%

Texas's 2nd Congressional District: Ted Poe (R), Atascocita, Spring, Willowbrook.
President: Obama 38%, McCain 62%
Governor: White 38%, Perry 60%

Texas's 3rd Congressional District: Sam Johnson (R), McKinney, Plano.
President: Obama 37%, McCain 61%
Governor: White 34%, Perry 64%

Texas's 4th Congressional District: Ralph Hall (R), Sherman, Paris, Texarkana, Rockwell.
President: Obama 29%, McCain 70%
Governor: White 33%, Perry 64%
★★★

After decades of easy reelections, first as a very conservative Democrat and since 2004 as a Republican, Ralph Hall found himself in a competitive primary in 2010.  Hall dispatched former AT&T Executive Steve Clark 57%-30% with racecar driver and racing parts store owner Lou Gigliotti earning a tiny 1.5%, a decisive though not very impressive win for the incumbent.  Clark and Gigliotti are back in 2012 and this time they have help.  The Campaign for Primary Accountability, a SuperPAC dedicated to knocking off incumbents from both parties, seems to smell blood in the water; it has poured over $164,000 so far into beating Hall.  The SuperPAC's television ad attacks Hall over his long tenure in Congress, his party switch, his support for government spending, and his votes to raise the debt ceiling under George W. Bush.  Given that Hall only had $92,000 on hand as of mid-May, he may not be able to effectively respond to these attacks.

Luckily for Hall, neither of his opponents looks to be particularly dangerous.  Clark spent months running essentially no campaign, with him only beginning to do anything in mid-May.  Clark may be trying to wait until the last minute in order to make sure Hall doesn't have time to bring up the stories that helped undo his 2010 campaign: in 1986 Clark was arrested for assaulting his now ex-wife (the charges were dismissed after a year of probation) and in the 2010 campaign Clark was criticized for describing himself as a veteran despite only attending the Air Force Academy for two years.  However, if Clark makes it to a runoff, he'll have a harder time ignoring these stories.  For his part, Clark is mentioning Hall's advanced age consistently (Hall is 89, the oldest member of the House).  If Clark is willing to spend vasts amount of his money, he may have a shot, but he doesn't seem like a particularly imposing threat so far.  

Despite his poor performance in 2010, Gigliotti may be the bigger threat to Hall.  Unlike two years ago, Gigliotti is actually spending money on his campaign and actually outspent Hall from April to mid-May $49,000 to $41,000.  Unfortunately for Gigliotti, he has very little money left, with only $23,000 on hand.   (His campaign also doesn't seem to understand how FEC finance reports work, with him apparently filing the wrong form, but whatever).  Still, he seems to be able to self-fund at least a bit and given how little Hall has, he may be able to remain competitive in a run-off.  Like Clark, Gigliotti has made Hall's age an issue, with his website proclaiming that the incumbent would be 91 at the end of his next term if reelected.  Given that Gigliotti is at least remaining competitive with Hall in fundraising and doesn't have any publicly known scandals in his past, he may be the more dangerous foe to Hall in a runoff.

So far, Hall still looks like the favorite to win outright in the May primary.  Even Hall's detractors admit that he is quite well liked, and neither of his opponents look imposing.  However, Hall himself doesn't seem prepared for a real campaign: his fundraising has been lackluster and his website hasn't been updated until very recently.  Additionally, the Campaign for Primary Accountability's spending may bury him.  Hall should win outright in May but if he has to deal with a runoff he may be in real trouble.  

Texas's 5th Congressional District: Jeb Hensarling (R): Northeast Dallas, Mesquite.
President: Obama 37%, McCain 62%
Governor: White 38%, Perry 59%

Texas's 6th Congressional District: Joe Barton (R), Arlington.
President: Obama 42%, McCain 57%
Governor: White 41%, Perry 56%
★★

Incumbent Joe Barton hasn't had the easiest few years.  After he defended BP during the 2010 Gulf Coast oil spill Barton lost his chance to become chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.  However, while Barton isn't a shoe-in in the GOP primary here, he looks like the heavy favorite to keep his seat.  Barton has an imposing $1,301,000 warchest and touted a poll showing him winning 62% of the vote.  While 62% isn't a great victory for a longtime incumbent, none of his foes have issued any polls to counter it.  

Barton has attracted two primary foes with at least some money to spend against him.  (He has a third opponent who's reported raising nothing).   Addison Mayor and restauranteur Joe Chow (who would be Texas's first Asian-American Congressman) is working to portray himself as a new voice, and has been attacking Barton as corrupt.  Chow actually outspend Barton in the period leading-up to the primary $166,000 to $101,000, and appears able to self fund a bit (most of this money came from his wallet.)  However, Addison is outside the district and Chow has little money left; he may be able to self fund more but in a runoff with Barton he would be unlikely to fare well against the incumbent's million dollar stockpile.  

Businessman Itamar Gelbman, an American-born veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces, also has some money to spend.  In April Gelbman reported a $100,000 warchest, though he has a huge campaign debt (he hasn't filed pre-primary fundraising reports, so he can also expect a fine from the FEC).  Gelbman has made support for Israel a big part of his campaign, and has also accused Barton of being corrupt.  Local Muslim-Americans recently criticized Gelbman for running a miler vowing to fight the “Islamization of America”.  While Gelbman's campaign has been getting some attention in Israel, he's unlikely to make a huge impact here unless he spends most of his small warchest.

While Chow looks like he may be able to give Barton some trouble, the incumbent, who has portrayed himself as a powerful ally for the district, looks like the heavy favorite here and a shoe-in in the general election.  

Texas's 7th Congressional District: John Culberson (R), Gulfton, West University Place.
President: Obama 40%, McCain 59%
Governor: White 42%, Perry 57%

Texas's 8th Congressional District: Kevin Brady (R), Crockett, Trinity, Conroe.
President: Obama 26%, McCain 73%
Governor: White 27%, Perry 70%

Texas's 9th Congressional District: Al Green (D), Mission Bend, Missouri City, Central Southwest Houston.
President: Obama 76%, McCain 23%
Governor: White 76%, Perry 22%

Texas's 10th Congressional District: Michael McCaul (R), North Austin, Brentwood.
President: Obama 43%, McCain 56%
Governor: White 41%, Perry 56%

Texas's 11th Congressional District: Mike Conaway (R), Midland, Odessa, San Angelo.
President: Obama 23%, McCain 76%
Governor: White 24%, Perry 73%

Texas's 12th Congressional District: Kay Granger (R), Western Fort Worth, North Richland Hills.  
President: Obama 35%, McCain 64%
Governor: White 34%, Perry 64%

Texas's 13th Congressional District: Mac Thornberry (R), Armarillo, Witchita Falls.
President: Obama 22%, McCain 77%
Governor: White 25%, Perry 72%

Texas's 14th Congressional District: OPEN, Beaumont, Port Arthur, Galveston.
President: Obama 42%, McCain 57%
Governor: White 42%, Perry 56%
★★★★

The retirement of Ron Paul has led to a competitive GOP primary to succeed him, with a prominent Democrat waiting to take on the winner.  Of the nine Republicans running here, four of them appear to be credible: State Representative Randy Weber, attorney Jay Old, Pearland City Councilmember Felicia Harris, and Texas State University Regent Michael Truncale.  (Interestingly, none of these candidates share Ron Paul's libertarian views though they are still trying to appeal to his supporters).  

Weber is widely considered to be the favorite to advance to the runoff if not win the entire primary.  Weber, one of the most conservative members of the legislature and the owner of an air conditioning business, has the backing of Governor Rick Perry and a solid base of support in Brazoria county, a vital area in the GOP primary.  Weber was criticized for living outside the district, but his recent move seems to have quieted this.  Weber has spent $157,000 leading up to the primary, the second largest of the GOP candidates and he maintains a $105,000 warchest.

Lawyer Jay Old has been the money leader in this race, and so far is the only candidate to advertise on TV.  Old has the most cash on hand of any of the GOP candidates, with $178,000, and is the biggest spender in the run-up to the primary with $170,000 dished out.  Old, a first time candidate, hasn't had the easiest campaign: he has been criticized for voting in Democratic primaries and for donating to Democrats in the past.  (Old has justified this saying that since Democrats dominate his home of Jefferson County, voting in the Democratic primary was the best way to make his voice heard).  Jefferson County casts relatively few votes in GOP primaries, which could hurt Old's efforts to get the most votes out of his home area.  Old does have the endorsement of the local Beaumont Enterprise to help him.  

University regent Michael Truncale, who like Old hails from Jefferson County, has extensive support from members of the state party, and has stressed his political clout as a member of the Texas GOP's Executive Committee.  Truncale spent the least amount of money in recent months, at only $55,000: he maintains a respectable though not dominating $158,000 on hand.

Pearland city councilmember Felicia Harris rounds out the prominent GOPers running here.  Harris has talked up her political experience, her history with the petrochemical industry, and the fact that she is the only woman in the race.  Harris may be hurt by the fact that her political base in Pearland is outside the district.  Harris has spent a good amount of money in the last few months at $153,000 but has very little left in the homestretch, with only $15,000 on hand.  (Though she appears capable of some self-funding).  

Of the three candidates running for a spot in the runoff, all look like they have a credible chance to make it, with maybe Old having an advantage because of his TV ads.  (A fifth candidate, underfunded Tea Partier Robert Gonzalez, may be able to sneak into the runoff due to his Tea Party ties, though he'd likely be crushed there).  Weber looks like the favorite to win the run-off, but for now none of the other three GOPers can be counted out in a one-on-one against him.  However, the winner will still face a big challenge in November in the form of former Democratic Congressman Nick Lampson.  Lampson, who should easily win his primary, has $230,000 on hand and the luxury of not needing to use it in a run-off.  Lampson remains well known in the area from his two stints in Congress, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee seems excited about him.  Given the strong GOP lean of the district Lampson will face an uphill battle, but he gives the Democrats a real chance to win here.  Between a competitive primary and runoff and the potential for a big general election battle, this seat should be worth watching all the way until November.  

Texas's 15th Congressional District: Ruben Hinojosa (D), McAllen, Edinburg, Seguin.
President: Obama 57%, McCain 42%
Governor: White 54%, Perry 44%

Ruben Hinojosa has attracted four challengers in the Democratic primary; however, given their weak fundraising, low profile, and the fact that no outside groups appear to be targeting Hinojosa, it appears unlikely any of them will get close to beating him, much less forcing a runoff.  None of Hinojosa's five GOP challengers look very impressive, and he should be set for another term.

Texas's 16th Congressional District: Silvestre Reyes (D), El Paso.
President: Obama 64%, McCain 35%
Governor: White 60%, Perry 38%
★★★★★

After a career of easy reelections, Silvestre Reyes finds himself in the fight for his political life in the Democratic primary against former El Paso City Councilman Beto O'Rourke.  Reyes, the more moderate candidate but a dependable vote in Congress, boasts the support of President Obama, former President Bill Clinton (who recently campaigned for Reyes here), and the El Paso Democratic establishment, which has long been in conflict with O'Rourke and his allies.  O'Rourke is running as the more progressive candidate, and has the backing of the El Paso Times and the Campaign for Primary Accountability (O'Rourke's father-in-law in a big donor, though this seems like the kind of race they'd be involved in anyway), which has spent real money trying to unseat Reyes.  O'Rourke has been competitive with Reyes in fundraising but the incumbent outspent him $213,000 to $184,000 in the last month and a half, and he maintains a $161,000 to $61,000 cash on hand lead.  Reyes' campaign seems to be more professionally run, with O'Rourke mostly relying on volunteers to staff the campaign.

There have been numerous accusations thrown around in this race.  Reyes has attacked O'Rourke for a 1998 DUI (though O'Rourke has long been open about this), and for calling for the legalization of marijuana.  Reyes has also gone after his opponent for supporting the construction of the Yarbrough International Bridge, which Reyes claims would evict 5,000 people (the bridge likely won't be built for decades).  O'Rourke has linked Reyes to local corruption in El Paso and has accused the incumbent of being corrupt himself, has blamed Reyes for not using his seniority to help veterans in the district citing El Paso's poor veterans care, and has called Reyes out for giving $600,000 of campaign money to his family, the most of any Congressman.  The latter charge is legal but frowned upon, and O'Rourke himself has used his supporters’ contributions to pay his company.  Suffice to say, this is a very negative race.  

Three other Democrats are running here, increasing the chances that this race will go to a runoff.  For now, both candidates look like they have a good shot to win, and this race should be one of the most interesting on May 29.  Either Reyes or O'Rourke should have no problem winning in November in this heavily Democratic district, which should be a relief to voters already being bombarded with months of negative campaigning.  

Texas's 17th Congressional District: Bill Flores (R), College Station, Waco, Bryan.
President: Obama 41%, McCain 58%
Governor: White 41%, Perry 56%

Texas's 18th Congressional District: Sheila Jackson Lee (D), Central Houston.
President: Obama 77%, McCain 23%
Governor: White 76%, Perry 23%

Texas's 19th Congressional District: Randy Neugebauer (R), Lubbock, Abilene.
President: Obama 28%, McCain 71%
Governor: White 28%, Perry 68%

Texas's 20th Congressional District: OPEN, Western San Antonio.
President: Obama 58%, McCain 41%
Governor: White 56%, Perry 41%

State Representative Joaquin Castro, the identical twin brother of San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, faces no primary opposition and should easily take this heavily Democratic district.  Castro is frequently mentioned as a rising star for Texas Democrats, and he should be worth watching.  

Texas's 21st Congressional District: Lamar Smith (R), Southern Austin, Northern San Antonio.
President: Obama 42%, McCain 56%
Governor: White 39%, Perry 58%

Texas's 22nd Congressional District: Pete Olson, Sugerland, Pearland.
President: Obama 39%, McCain 60%
Governor: White 38%, Perry 60%

Even though the Democrats have next to no chance of beating Olson, the Democratic primary here is actually worth watching.  Kesha Rogers, a Lyndon LaRouche activist who calls for impeaching President Obama, was the Democratic nominee in 2010 and caused a big headache for local Dems.  Rogers is running again and local Democrats would like to avoid the embarrassment of sharing a ticket with her this year: her sole opponent is KP George.  George's nomination wouldn't give the party any more of a chance to unseat Olson, but it would be a huge relief for Texas Democrats if he was their nominee here instead of Rogers.  

Texas's 23rd Congressional District: Francisco Canseco (R), Southern San Antonio, Socorro.
President: Obama 50%, McCain 49%
Governor: White 46%, Perry 52%
★★★★★

Democrats will heavily target freshman Republican Francisco Canseco, but first the party must pick its nominee.  Three Democrats are running here: State Representative and former House Democratic caucus chair Pete Gallego, former Congressman Ciro Rodriguez (who lost this seat to Canseco in 2010), and patent lawyer and John Bustamante, the son of former Congressman Al Bustamante.

Pete Gallego is the only Democrat to raise significant amounts of money, and he has the endorsements of labor groups and influential legislators.  Gallego has held a conservative seat in the House for decades and has survived Republican attempts to unseat him in the past.  Gallego is not well known in the San Antionio part of this vast district, though the endorsement of the San Antonio Express-News may help him.  Gallego has been spending heavily in the primary, with his $262,000 in the last month and a half dwarfing Rodriguez's $37,000.  

By contrast, former Congressman Rodriguez's fundraising has been quite poor.  However, he still has significant name recognition in the district, especially in the San Antonio area.  Democratic leaders and their allies seem to be afraid that Rodriguez could force a runoff: the League of Conservation Voters has dumped $100,000 against Rodriguez, attacking him over his opposition to the 2009 Climate Change Bill.  

John Bustamante has raised almost no money, but is canvasing hard.  Bustamante's father may not be much of an asset in this race, as he lost reelection in 1992 over corruption.  However, Bustamante's presence in this race may be enough to cause a runoff, something Democrats would like to avoid.  Gallego has been spending heavily to secure victory on May 29th, and it's not hard to see why: the primary has depleted Gallego's warchest, leaving him with only $83,000 on hand.  Gallego is very likely to be the Democratic nominee, but his chances in the general will be better if he avoids a run-off and can take the time to rebuild his warchest.  

Waiting in the general election is Francisco Canseco, who unsurprisingly has by far the most money, with $771,000 on hand and no primary to spend it on.  Both parties will be working hard to portray their opponent as tied to special interests: Democrats are pointing to Canseco's visit to a fancy Florida resort for a fundraiser, and Canseco is attacking his foes over their donations from labor and trial lawyers.  With this being one of the few Democratic opportunities for a pickup in Texas, this race will be worth watching and likely close.

Texas's 24th Congressional District: Kenny Marchant (R), Carrollton, Grapeville, Euless, Bedford.
President: Obama 41%, McCain 58%
Governor: White 36%, Perry 61%
★★

Kenny Marchant faces a fairly well known primary challenger in Grant Stinchfield, a former investigative reporter for the NBC affiliate in the Fort Worth area.  Marchant's conservative credentials are very difficult to challenge, but Stinchfield has criticized the incumbent for being too quiet in promoting conservative values, for not being visible in the district, and for voting to raise the debt ceiling.  Stinchfield promises that if elected he will investigate fraud and waste in Congress, and has even ran an ad criticizing his former employer NBC.  

Stinchfield is unlikely to prevail, but he does have some things going for him that could make this race more competitive than expected.  Stinchfield has the endorsement of Cowboys legend Roger Staubach and the Fort Worth Star Telegraph (The Dallas Morning News is for Marchant).  Stinchfield should also benefit from his years on TV.  Marchant has outspent Stinchfield but not by that much, only $75,000 to $54,000: however, Marchant has a much larger warchest, $651,000 to $86,000, in case he gets paranoid at the last second.  Interestingly, the Marchant people are using a lot more heated rhetoric on Stinchfield than one would expect for a hopeless challenger, with a Marchant spokesman referring to their opponent as a "pathological liar".  It looks very unlikely that Stinchfield will have a chance, but he does appear fairly strong.  No other candidates are running in the primary so this race will be decided May 29.  The winner should have no problem in the general election in this safely GOP district.  

Texas's 25th Congressional District: OPEN, Northern Austin, Cleburne, Burleson.  
President: Obama 43%, McCain 56%
Governor: White 41%, Perry 55%
★★★

Eleven Republicans are running to represent this district, with one the clear favorite to be the GOP nominee after the July runoff.  Roger Williams, the wealthy owner of a car dealership and former Texas Secretary of State, has dominated this race financially.  He has spent a massive $810,000 in the last month and a half (his nearest opponent spent $75,000), and has $761,000 on hand, the most of anyone.  Roger Williams, who bailed on the US Senate campaign to run for this race, is still unlikely to win outright May's crowded race, but he looks like a strong contender to win the runoff.

Former Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams (no relation), a fellow refugee of the Senate race, may get into the runoff but he has not had a great campaign.  Michael Williams was once touted as a rising star in the Texas GOP and was one of the few prominent African Americans in the party.  However, his fundraising has slowed to a crawl; in the first quarter of 2012 he raised an embarrassing $15,000: he has $193,000 on hand, not the worst warchest but probably not what he needs to overcome the other Williams.  Michael Williams doesn't have it all bad: both of Texas's RNC committee members back him, a conservative group recently spent $32,000 on him, and he has the endorsement of the Austin-American Statesman.  However, it doesn't look great for this once rising star.

Former Halliburton and USAA businessman Dave Garrison looks like the only candidate who can compete with Roger Williams financially.  Through personal loans, Garrison has a $618,000 warchest, far larger than anyone but Roger Williams (the next largest is Michael Williams' $192,000).  Garrison doesn't look like he has much establishment support (his website only lists two endorsements, and strangely has blank areas labeled "endorsement 3," "endorsement 4" all the way to six).  However, if Garrison spends his money, he could buy his way into the runoff.

Several other fairly prominent Republicans are running here.  Chad Wilbanks is the former executive director of the Texas GOP, but doesn't have that much money (only $91,000 on hand).  Justin Hewlett is the mayor of Cleburne, and has made the Williams lack of residency in the district a big issue.  His fundraising is also pretty so-so ($52,000 on hand).  Dianne Costa is Mayor of Highland Park, which is outside the district: she managed to run up a $44,000 deficit.  One of these candidates may be able to sneak into a runoff, but their opponent would likely crush them.  Right now, it looks like a contest between Michael Williams and Dave Garrison to be Roger Williams’ opponent in a runoff; Garrison would have the funds to fight Roger Williams, and Michael Williams would have the party support.  However, it looks likely that when all is said and done, Roger Williams will be the GOP nominee here, and the next Congressman from this Republican district.  

Texas's 26th Congressional District: Michael Burgess (R), Denton, Flower Mound.
President: Obama 35%, McCain 64%
Governor: White 31%, Perry 66%

Texas's 27th Congressional District: Blake Farenthold (R), Corpus Christi, Victoria.
President: Obama 40%, McCain 59%
Governor: White 40%, Perry 57%

Freshman Republican Blake Farenthold was one of the surprise winners of 2010, unexpectedly unseating Democratic incumbent Solomon Ortiz.  Farenthold's luck looks like it will continue: redistricting has given his a safe Republican district, and none of his primary opponents appear to be well known or well financed enough to unseat him.  Farenthold doesn't look like he's taking his primary for granted, spending $217,000, with his nearest opponent spending only $26,000.  Farenthold should have no problem returning to Washington for the next Congress.  

Texas's 28th Congressional District: Henry Cuellar (D), Eastern San Antonio, Laredo.  
President: Obama 58%, McCain 41%
Governor: White 57%, Perry 40%

Texas's 29th Congressional District: Gene Green (D), Eastern Houston, Pasadena.
President: Obama 62%, McCain 37%
Governor: White 67%, Perry 32%

Texas's 30th Congressional District: South Dallas, Ceder Hills, DeSoto.
President: Obama 78%, McCain 21%
Governor: White 77%, Perry 21%
★★★

Ten-term incumbent Eddie Bernice Johnson has never had a primary challenge since she was elected in this heavily Democratic district, but now she faces an energetic newcomer and a well known opponent in the primary.  Johnson received some bad headlines in 2010 when it was revealed she gave Congressional Black Caucus Foundation scholarships to relatives.  However, Johnson has the endorsement of President Obama, a vital asset in this district.  

Lawyer Taj Clayton has been competitive in fundraising, taking in $402,000 to Johnson's $563,000 throughout the entire campaign.  Additionally, Clayton has President Obama's former National Field Director working for him.  He has largely avoided criticizing Johnson, instead playing up his humble beginnings and producing slickly made ads.  (This one is worth watching).  Clayton has made the lack of economic development in south Dallas county a campaign theme, saying he could do better.  Clayton also managed to snag the endorsement of the Dallas Morning News.  However, he has had two campaign shakeups and his once formidable warchest is now only $45,000, with Johnson having $373,000 on hand.   Clayton is also being portrayed by Johnson and a SuperPAC run by a former Johnson staffer as being funded by Republicans.

Johnson's other foe is State Representative and former Dallas City Councilmember Barbara Mallory Caraway.  Caraway has raised very little money in this contest but she has canvased the district hard, a strategy that has won her elections in smaller constituencies despite being constantly outspent.  Caraway is well known in the area, and her husband served as the acting Mayor of Dallas briefly.  However, Caraway attracted negative attention last year when her husband called the police and claimed she had threatened him with a knife.  Caraway has tagged the incumbent as corrupt, with Johnson calling Caraway unfit for office.        

Political observers largely expect Johnson to win without a runoff.  Clayton and Caraway may be strong enough to surprise, though this doesn't look likely.  Still, at the very least, Clayton should come out of this campaign well known and well positioned for a future campaign.  

Texas's 31st Congressional District: John Carter (R), Killeen, Temple, Round Rock.
President: Obama 43%, McCain 56%
Governor: White 37%, Perry 58%

Texas's 32nd Congressional District: Pete Sessions (R), Richardson, Garland, University Park.
President: Obama 44%, McCain 55%
Governor: White 42%, Perry 55%

Texas's 33rd Congressional District: OPEN, Eastern Fort Worth, Irving, Grand Prairie, Oak Cliff.
President: Obama 69%, McCain 31%
Governor: White 68%, Perry 30%
★★★★★

This Democratic district features an intense primary battle that largely is defined by race and by city.  The two frontrunners who are expected, though not assured, to advance to the July runoff are State Representative Marc Veasey, an African American from Fort Worth, and former State Representative Domingo Garcia, a Latino from Dallas.  

The conflict between Veasey and Garcia has become very negative.  Garcia, an ardent liberal with a very confrontational reputation, recently attacked GM, American Airlines, and Lockheed Martin from a populist angle.  After Veasey defended the companies, noting that they employ tens of thousands in the area, Garcia accused him of being a "paid-for errand boy."  Unsurprisingly the comment attracted criticism from many, including the NAACP, who saw it as racially loaded.  Additionally, unions sided with Veasey over Garcia's attacks on the companies.  

Garcia and Veasey have both sought to expand their support beyond their racial and geographic bases.  Garcia has the backing of Civil Rights icon Joseph Lowery, and has the support of many influential black politicians in Dallas.  Veasey has picked up the endorsement of The Dallas Morning News, and has endorsements from Dallas County officials as well.  Still, the race will likely be decided in large part by ethnicity.  The district is heavily Latino but African Americans are much more likely to turn out, making the runoff unpredictable.  As of mid-May Garcia, helped by personal funds, leads Veasey in cash on hand $241,000 to $105,000.  

While Garcia and Veasey are likely to go to the runoff, three other candidates have the potential to surprise.  Wealthy dental chain owner David Alameel has spent by far the most money, with $1,934,000 of his own funds used in the last month and a half.  However, Alameel seems to lack much political talent and has avoided the media, and lacks a political base.  Two other local electeds may have a chance to slip through.  However, neither Fort Worth Councilmember Kathleen Hicks (like Veasey an African American) nor former Dallas councilmember Steve Salazar have much funds.  Barring the unexpected, it looks like the May primary will send Veasey and Garcia to the runoff and into two more months of aggressive campaigning.  

Texas's 34th Congressional District: OPEN, Harlingen, Brownsville.
President: Obama 60%, McCain 39%
Governor: White 56%, Perry 42%
★★★★

You know it's a odd race when one of the frontrunners gets arrested and refuses to drop out, but that's exactly what happened in this Democratic primary.  Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos was indited on charges of bribery among others, but has adamantly refused to either resign or drop out.  Luckily for Democrats, he was far from the only candidate running.  

The top fundraiser has been attorney Filemon Vela, the son of a famous judge and of a former mayor of Brownsville.  Much of Vela's money came from personal funds, but he has dramatically outspent the other candidates in the lead-up to the primary, $198,000 to his nearest opponent's $32,000.  However, Vela has been accused of being a closet Republican, with local GOPers claiming he was prepared to switch parties until he saw the final Congressional maps.  The fact that Vela's wife is a Republican judge doesn't help him.  Still, Vela's fundraising superiority likely makes him the frontrunner for this district.

The other prominent candidates in the race are former Solomon Ortiz chief-of-staff Denise Saenz Blanchard (who's spent the next most in fundraising), former Edinburg city manager Ramiro Garza, former Brownsville city commissioner Anthony Troilani, and former District Attorney Juan Angel Gruella, who indited Dick Cheney in 2008.  For the most part, all the candidates have stayed away from Villalobos's problems.  The big exception is Gruella, who is trying to remove him from office.  Right now Vela should be considered the frontrunner, with the race likely to go to a runoff.  Gruella's local profile may also earn him a runoff spot, though the fact that he hasn't reported raising any money is likely to hurt his prospects.  Unless Villalobos somehow winds up as the nominee, the Democrats should easily win this district in the general.

Texas's 35th Congressional District: Lloyd Doggett (D), Southeast San Antonio, San Marcos, eastern Austin.
President: Obama 63%, McCain 35%
Governor: White 60%, Perry 37%
★★★

For the second time in his career, redistricting has split up Lloyd Doggett’s Austin base and he has chosen to run in a heavily Hispanic district he is largely unfamiliar with instead of a heavily Republican one.  In 2004 Doggett campaigned hard in a very different district and easily won, and he is looking to repeat that victory.  For a time Joaquin Castro planned to run against Doggett, but the retirement of Charlie Gonzales led Castro to seek a different district.  Instead, Doggett's primary opponents are Bexar County Tax Assessor-Collector Sylvia Romo, and 2006 Lt. Governor nominee Maria Luisa Alvarado.  

Doggett has dramatically out-raised and outspent both candidates, with Romo pulling in only $60,000 to his millions and Alvarado barely raising anything.  Doggett has campaigned hard in the San Antonio area where he is largely unknown, and is the only candidate to be able to advertise on TV.  He has also won endorsements from electeds and unions from across the district, while Romo has pulled in some local endorsements in San Antonio.  Romo is attempting to appeal to Austin, but the consensus seems to be that Doggett has the area locked up, and the election will be won or lost in San Antonio.  

Romo has emphasized the need for more gender and racial diversity in Congress, and has talked up tax reform and economic development.  Doggett has reminded voters of his progressive values, as well as his experience and incumbency.  The incumbent has the support of the two biggest papers in the district, The San Antonio Express News and the Austin-American Statesman.  However, Doggett is reportedly worried about low turnout in early voting saying, "If we can't get more people out to vote, I'm not going back to Washington."  

Given his endorsements, money, and heavy campaigning, Doggett looks to have the advantage going into the primary.  However, demographics and name recognition may give Romo a chance to pull off a big upset or at least force a runoff.  The winner of the Democratic primary should have no problem prevailing in November.  

Texas's 36th Congressional District: OPEN, Baytown, La Porte.
President: Obama 30%, McCain 69%
Governor: White 33%, Perry 65%
★★★

Republican State Senator Mike Jackson looks like the favorite, though not a sure thing, in this district.  Jackson has the endorsement of many establishment Republicans as well as the Texas Association of Businesses and the Beaumont Enterprise.  Jackson's fundraising hasn't been particularly great, with $27,000 on hand and $80,000 spent in the last month and a half.  However, with one exception, Jackson still is outspending the field.  

Given that there are twelve Republicans on the ballot, a runoff is all but assured.  Baytown financial adviser Stephen Takach loaned himself $277,000 and used it to easily outspend everyone.  KY Griffin, a wealthy funeral home owner, may be able to drop some cash into the race to secure a runoff spot but so far hasn't.  Seabrook councilmember Kim Morrell may be able to secure some local support but doesn't seem to have much money.  

Former Congressman Steve Stockman, who was elected in the 1994 GOP landslide before losing to Nick Lampson two years later, is also in the race and has some support from gun groups.  In Stockman's short Congressional career he earned a very conservative reputation, perhaps too conservative even for Republicans.  (Among many other highlights, he once suggested that Bill Clinton raided the militia compound in Waco to ban assault weapons.)  Since losing his seat Stockman hasn't had much luck in politics.  He unsuccessfully ran for Railroad Commission in 1998, and tried to run for Congress as an independent in 2006 but didn't have enough signatures to make the ballot.  He hosted a radio show for a little while, which may give him some name recognition his brief Congressional career did not.  Stockman has been employing an interesting strategy by making signs saying "Re-elect Stockman," apparently hoping that if he acts like the incumbent he'll win.  However, Stockman hasn't raised much money.  

If Jackson is in a runoff with Takach he could be in for a tough race due to Takach's big wallet.  Against the other candidates he should be the easy favorite.  A race against Stockman would likely be the most entertaining, though Jackson should win.  For now, Mike Jackson looks like the clear favorite to be the GOP nominee and thus the next Congressman from this district.

Disagree with my ratings?  Did I make a mistake?  Did I leave something out?  Please let me know in the comments!

Also a big shout out to the DK Elections team for compiling the district data!

And for another perspective on these races, see TDDVandy's dairy here.  

Originally posted to Darth Jeff on Fri May 25, 2012 at 07:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by TexKos-Messing with Texas with Nothing but Love for Texans and Community Spotlight.

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