• TX-04 (R): After a Congressional career that spans almost 34 years and two parties, 91 year-old Republican Rep. Ralph Hall is seeking one last term. However, he may not get it. Hall won unimpressive primary victories in 2010 and 2012 against weak opponents, and he was held to 45 percent of the vote in the March primary. The incumbent will now face wealthy former US Attorney John Ratcliffe in the runoff. Ratcliffe, who took 29 percent in March, has not hesitated to make Hall's age an issue. Ratcliffe may be able to benefit from low turnout: Primary runoffs tend to be dominated by more ideological voters who are often suspicious of incumbents and candidates close to the party establishment.
However, Hall has several advantages of his own. Most of the primary candidates who were eliminated in the first round have endorsed Hall. It's also not clear if the well-connected Ratcliffe can appeal to the type of anti-establishment voters who are likely to show up. Furthermore, Hall has matched Ratcliffe in spending in the lead-up to the runoff, a big change from the primary. The winner should have no problem holding this very conservative east Texas seat.
Please read below the fold for more on other key Texas races.
• TX-23 (R): Freshman Democratic Rep. Pete Gallego unseated one-term Republican Quico Canseco in 2012 in this west Texas swing-seat. Canseco is seeking a rematch, but he must get past former CIA officer Will Hurd in the runoff. This isn't the first time the two Republicans have tangled: Canseco defeated Hurd 53-47 in the 2010 primary runoff. Third-place finisher Robert Lowry has endorsed Hurd in another repeat of 2010's match-up. Whichever Republican wins in the end will face a tough test against Gallego, who beat Canseco 50-46 even as Mitt Romney was carrying the district 51-48.
• TX-36 (R): Dentist Brian Babin faces self-funding businessman Ben Streusand in the race to replace Rep. Steve Stockman. Babin placed first in March by a 33-23 margin, and has been endorsed by most of the primary also-rans. However, Streusand has outspent Babin $385,000 to $183,000 in the final weeks of the runoff. Streusand, who served as state chair of the tea party friendly Americans for Prosperity Branch, may also be more appealing to conservative runoff voters. Geography is likely to play a major role here: Streusand did very well in the Houston suburbs in March, while Babin's base is in the more rural areas of the district. Both Babin and Streusand have lost previous House bids, but the winner on Tuesday will have no problem in November in this safely Republican seat.
• TX-LG (R): It looks like Lt. Gov. and 2012 Senate candidate David Dewhurst is about to be forced into retirement. Dewhurst was outpolled by ultra-conservative state Sen. Dan Patrick by a brutal 41-28 in March, and should have an even tougher time in a lower-turnout runoff. Dewhurst has already experienced first hand how dangerous Republican runoffs can be: After leading in the 2012 primary, he lost the Senate runoff to now-Sen. Ted Cruz by double digits. However, Dewhurst isn't going out quietly, and the race has gotten incredibly nasty. Unlike many other states, the Texas lieutenant governor's office is incredibly powerful, with the ability to set the state Senate's agenda. The winner will face Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte in November.
• TX-AG (R): State Sen. Ken Paxton faces Rep. Dan Branch in the race to replace gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbot. Paxton, who identifies with the tea party, outpolled the more establishment flavored Branch 44-33 in the first round and initially looked poised for victory in the runoff. However, Paxton has recently earned some bad headlines over his ethics, potentially complicating things. Branch has also earned the endorsement of third place candidate Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman (who earned 22 percent in March) and has outspent Paxton. The Republican nominee will take on Sam Houston. Yes, really.
• TX-Sen (D): Republican Sen. John Cornyn is all but assured another term, but the Democratic primary to face him is still worth watching. LaRouche devotee Kesha Rogers is in the runoff and she would be an unwelcome distraction and embarrassment for Texas Democrats if she won the nomination: Among other things, Rogers has called for executing Barack Obama. Rogers has won the Democratic nomination for the House twice despite the party's attempts to stop her, so it is not utterly implausible she could win on Tuesday. Fortunately, wealthy dentist David Alameel looks like the frontrunner. Alameel ran ahead of Rogers 47-22 in March, and should win on Tuesday barring an unwelcome surprise.