Tuesday night was the Texas primary elections; the main event was the Republican Senate primary, but with the state gaining four new House seats thanks to reapportionment, there was also a number of wide-open House primaries with crowded fields. Let's have a brief recap of what happened Tuesday night, and look ahead to the runoff, which will be held July 31:
• TX-Sen: The question going into the primary wasn't whether the state's Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst would get the most votes, but whether he'd clear the 50% mark to avoid a runoff. In the end, he didn't, and he'll face off again versus the state's former Soliticor General, Ted Cruz. Dewhurst finished ahead of Crux 45-36, with former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert at 13 and former ESPN analyst Craig James at an embarrassing 4. This sets up a big establishment vs. tea party (or at least the Beltway astroturf version thereof) duel, with groups like Club for Growth and FreedomWorks in Cruz's corner.
Dewhurst finished about where the polls had put him, but Cruz seemed to get all the undecideds, and pulled close to Dewhurst in actual Election Day votes (while Dewhurst cleaned up among early voters). Cruz does seem to have the momentum here; his problem, though, is that Dewhurst doesn't have that far to go to get over 50%, and Dewhurst seems likelier to pick up the voters from Leppert, who was probably the most 'moderate' member of the field. PPP's Tom Jensen shared some thoughts on the race, based on PPP's last-minute poll last week (which found that Dewhurt led Cruz 59-34 in a potential runoff):
We found last week that 49% of Cruz's supporters were 'very excited' about voting for him. Only 27% of Dewhurst's expressed the same sentiment. Among that most enthusiastic group of voters Cruz led Dewhurst 42-37 for yesterday's primary, and trailed only 48-46 in a hypothetical runoff contest. It's hard to say what turnout will be in July but assuming it's lower than it was yesterday that will work to Cruz's advantage due to the passion of his supporters.The Democrats also face a runoff, with ex-state Rep. Paul Sadler the probable winner there. Instead of facing activist Sean Hubbard, though, as expected, instead the other runoff participant will be Grady Yarbrough, little-known but apparently helped by sharing the same last name (apparently unrelated) as long-ago Sen. Ralph Yarborough. Sadler stands little chance in the general, so that leaves us with the question of which GOPer to root for in the runoff... Dewhurst is considerably older so he won't be entrenched as long as Cruz.
More over the fold...
• TX-16: Beyond the Senate race, the most noteworthy result (and probably the biggest surprise) of the night was the loss of Silvestre Reyes, Democratic Rep. from the El Paso area for nearly two decades. He lost the primary to Beto O'Rourke 50-44, with O'Rourke clearing the runoff threshold by only a few hundred votes. O'Rourke, an El Paso city councilor, raised little money, but apparently had a strong ground game and also got some financial help from the Campaign for Primary Accountability, the mysterious Super PAC that seems to be out to shed the blood of both parties' entrenched incumbents.
Reyes is the third House incumbent to lose a primary to a non-incumbent challenger this year, and the CPA played in all three of those (the other two were GOPer Jean Schmidt and Dem Tim Holden, though redistricting played a much larger role in those two fights). O'Rourke may be a bit more progressive than Reyes, but if nothing else, at 25 years younger than Reyes, he brings some new blood to the Texas Dems' delegation.
• TX-04: The other Texas race where the CPA got involved was in attempting to force out ancient Ralph Hall in the GOP primary in the rural/exurban 4th; the 89-year-old Hall (Congress's oldest member) survived, but with the second-lowest percentage of the vote (58%) of any of the state's incumbents. It probably helped that Hall had two opponents, Steve Clark and Lou Gigliotti, to split the focus.
• TX-06, TX-19, TX-24, TX-27: Other GOP incumbents who weren't expected to lose, but facing competitive primaries, all survived as well. These include Joe Barton, who got 63% in the 6th, Randy Neugebauer, who got 74% in the 19th, Kenny Marchant, who got 68% in the 24th, and Blake Farenthold, who got 71% in the 27th.
• TX-14: This seat, left open by Ron Paul's retirement/Presidential run, had a crowd of nine candidates in its Republican primary and had always seemed destined to go to runoff. In the end, state Rep. Randy Weber and Pearland city councilor Felicia Harris are going to runoff. They'll face Democratic ex-Rep. Nick Lampson, who represented a similarly-configured Galveston-to-Beaumont district in the 1990s. It'll be an uphill fight for Lampson, as the area has moved to the right since then, but he can remain above the fray while Weber and Harris try to out-conservative each other for two more months; it's one of the Dems best pickup shots in Texas.
• TX-23: The 23rd is probably the Dems' best chance to gain a seat in Texas, but they'll have to sort through the runoff before knowing who faces GOP frosh Quico Canseco. Ex-Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (who lost in 2010 to Canseco) faces a runoff with state Rep. Pete Gallego, after they finished 46-41 (with 13 for John Bustamante, son of long-ago Rep. Albert Bustamante). It's basically a San Antonio vs. rural border counties duel between the two; Gallego, from the tiny town of Alpine, seems to offer more upside for the general than Rodriguez, though, who's been a weak fundraiser.
• TX-25: This used to be Democrat Lloyd Doggett's seat, but this was redrawn as a solidly Republican seat, and Doggett is running in the new 35th. The Republican primary here was always framed as Williams vs. Williams (ex-SoS Roger Williams vs. ex-Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams), but Michael Williams (one of the state's few African-American Republican politicians) surprisingly tanked, finishing 5th here with 10%. Instead Roger Williams will go to a runoff against previously unknown tea partier Wes Riddle (check out his low-budget, ranty website), after they finished with 25 and 15 respectively, though look for Williams (a wealthy car dealer who can self-fund as needed) to crush in the runoff.
• TX-30: Long-time Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, who represents Dallas's African-American-plurality seat, was thought to have been in some trouble here, facing both a state Rep., Barbara Caraway, and a well-funded lawyer with some big endorsements, Taj Clayton. Johnson easily avoided a runoff though, finishing with 70%.
• TX-33: The 33rd is one of the state's new seats, intended as the Dallas area's Hispanic-majority seat. While Hispanics make up the bulk of the district's population, African-Americans may actually outnumber Hispanics among the ranks of Democratic voters. Accordingly, the two candidates heading to runoff are African-American state Rep. Marc Veasey and Hispanic ex-state Rep. Domingo Garcia, who finished with 37 and 25 apiece. Another black candidate, Kathleen Hicks, was 3rd with 13; add her share to Veasey's and that makes 50, so Veasey may have the edge here. Wealthy dentist David Alameel spent nearly $2 million on ads but hardly registered at the ballot box, finishing fourth at 11% (for nearly $1,000 per vote).
• TX-34: Another new seat is the Hispanic-majority 34th in the Rio Grande Valley. Cameron Co. DA Armando Villalobos was the early favorite, but he got sidetracked by a wee little indictment (though he remained in the race, finishing 5th). The runoff will be between lawyer Filemon Vela, who dominated the field at 40, and former Solomon Ortiz CoS Denise Saenz Blanchard, who narrowly finished 2nd at 13. Between his money and his strong finish on Tuesday, Vela looks like the one to beat here.
• TX-35: Liberal Austin-area Rep. Lloyd Doggett has used up at least 10 of his 9 lives in fighting off various Republican attempts to wipe him out through redistricting, and he survived one more time. His former 25th got turned into a solidly Republican one, but Doggett moved over to the newly-created Hispanic-majority 35th. On paper, that looked difficult, as an Anglo in a mostly Hispanic district with a lot of San Antonio-area voters unfamiliar with him, but thanks to a huge cash edge and great loyalty among his remaining Austin constituents, he easily won his primary against Bexar Co. Assessor Sylvia Romo, 73-21.
• TX-36: Everyone seemed to treat state Sen. Mike Jackson as the frontrunner in the Republican primary in this new, dark-red Houston-suburbs district; it's unclear whether he got caught sleeping or just nobody likes him, but he wound up not even making the runoff. Instead financial advisor Stephen Takach (who spent the most by far) and far-right ex-Rep. Steve Stockman, who seems to have kept his name rec alive through a talk radio gig, made the runoff at 22 each, with Jackson third at 20.