Tuesday marks the end of the road for Rep. Steve Stockman
Voters in Texas go to the polls today to select candidates in the Democratic and Republican primaries. In races where no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will be held on May 27 between the top-two vote getters. Polls close at 8 pm eastern throughout the state, with the exception of the small portion in the Mountain Time Zone where polls will close an hour later. Our guide to the key races to watch tonight is below.
• TX-Sen (R & D): Despite holding a very conservative voting record, two-term incumbent and Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn attracted some opposition from the far right. Cornyn's enemies were briefly elated when Rep. Steve Stockman entered the race in December. However, it quickly became clear that while Stockman has no problem attracting attention, he did not have the chops to take down the powerful senator.
Stockman declared at the last possible second with no preparation, having almost no money and no major endorsements lined up. He has also not used his brief time in the race well, with the congressman barely reaching out to potential allies and disappearing for weeks to go on overseas trips. At this point, it would be a major surprise if Cornyn doesn't easily clear 50 percent and win outright. The bigger question may be whether Stockman even gets a distant second place or if a lesser-known candidate overtakes him.
Team Blue's hopes to take this seat in November are slim, but the Democratic primary is still worth watching. Five candidates are running, and unfortunately one of them is LaRouche devotee Kesha Rogers. Rogers, who wants to impeach and execute Barack Obama, would be a very unwelcome distraction for Texas Democrats if she is the nominee. Unfortunately, that prospect is not as far-fetched as it may seem. Rogers was noninated twice in TX-22, despite local Democratic attempts to stop her in 2012. Furthermore, the only recent poll of the race shows Rogers in the lead with 35 percent. Democrats have to hope Rogers is defeated in the runoff by wealthy dentist David Alameel (who placed second in the poll with 27 percent) or by lawyer Maxey Scherr.
Please read below the fold for more on other key Texas races.
• TX-LG (R): It has not been an easy few years for Republican Lt. Gov David Dewhurst. After losing the 2012 Senate nomination to eventual winner Ted Cruz, Dewhurst is running for re-election to the post he's held since 2003. However, following his upset Senate defeat, Dewhurst's intra-party rivals smell blood in the water and are looking to hand him another loss. Three Republicans are running in the primary: Houston state Sen. Dan Patrick, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples.
A recent University of Texas poll had Dewhurst in the lead with 38 percent, Patrick at 31, and Patterson and Staples with less than 20 percent each. The stakes are huge here: The lieutenant governor has immense power, with the ability to set the state Senate's agenda. The eventual winner will face Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte in November.
To help you follow along with our analysis of individual House races, we've created maps of the state's congressional district. Due to Texas' sheer size, we've broken the map into two parts, with the northern half on top and the southern just below:
• TX-04 (R)
: At 90 years young, 17-term Republican Rep. Ralph Hall says this is the last time he'll run for office. However, it remains to be seen if Hall will be retiring with his head held high, or if he gets thrown out of office by his own party. Hall only won his 2010 and 2012 primaries with less than 59 percent
each time against a group of lackluster opponents, and this year, it looks like he has a real foe. Former U.S. Attorney John Ratcliffe dipped heavily into his own wallet and used his wealth to outspend Hall on the homestretch by a wide $300,000 to $41,000. Four other candidates are in the race, but none of them have anywhere near Ratcliffe's resources. Hall's longevity may be enough to earn him one more term, but there's a good chance that this will at least go to a runoff.
• TX-23 (R): Three Republicans are competing for the honor of facing freshman Democratic Rep. Pete Gallego in the state's only swing district. Francisco "Quico" Canseco, who served one term in the House before losing to Gallego in 2012, probably started as the best-known candidate. However, Canseco may have squandered any advantage by running an almost nonexistent campaign for months. Canseco faces a rematch with former CIA officer Will Hurd, whom he beat 53-47 in their 2010 runoff. Also in the race is physician Robert Lowry, who also ran in 2010. Gallego would certainly love for this race to go to a second round, giving him almost two more months of watching his opponents beat each other up before they can focus on him.
• TX-33 (D): For the second time in a row, freshman Democratic Rep. Marc Veasey faces a primary against a well-funded opponent in a race with geographic and racial fault lines. Veasey, an African American from Fort Worth, won his 2012 runoff 53-47 against Domingo Garcia, a Hispanic state representative from Dallas. This time, wealthy attorney Tom Sanchez, who has a similar base as Garcia, is challenging Veasey. However, Sanchez is making a greater effort to appeal to Fort Worth than the much more divisive Garcia; Sanchez also used his own money to outspend Veasey $674,000 to $148,000 since the beginning of the year. Veasey, however, is still the favorite. While Hispanics outnumber African Americans 66-15 percent in this district, the gap is much smaller among eligible voters, and African Americans are more likely to turn out. Furthermore, this time around, Veasey has the benefit of incumbency (plus an endorsement from Barack Obama). Veasey and Sanchez are the only two Democratic candidates on the ballot, so this race will be decided tonight.
• TX-36 (R): Steve Stockman's last-second Senate run left his dark red east Texas seat open, and 12 Republicans are fighting to take his place. Self-funding businessman Ben Streusand and dentist Brian Babin are the only candidates to spend at least six figures, and at least one of them should be favored to advance to the likely May runoff. Another candidate who may be able to secure a spot in May due to name recognition is former Pasadena Mayor John Manlove. However, this is the district that elected Steve Stockman, so really, anything can happen here.
• Texas: The state will also hold competitive primaries in the open posts for agriculture commissioner, attorney general, comptroller, and railroad commissioner. While both parties are fielding candidates, the real action will be on the Republican side in all these races. For more information about these races, see Burnt Orange Report's rundown.
For information about tonight's state legislative contests, Burnt Orange also gives us a three-part roundup of the competitive primaries for the state House (here, here, and here), as well as one for the Senate.
• Oklahoma City Mayor: Republican Mayor Mick Cornett looks like the strong favorite to win another term against independent City Councilor Ed Shadid in this officially non-partisan race. Shadid's longshot campaign was likely fatally wounded by the unsealing of his divorce records, which painted a very ugly picture of the councilor. The only publicly released poll showed Cornett ahead 64-19.
•Massachusetts Legislature: Massachusetts will also host four special legislative Democratic primaries. It's a very crowded race to succeed Boston Mayor Marty Walsh in the 13th Suffolk House District. No members of other parties filed, so the primary winner will be the district's next representative. It's a similar story in the 2nd Suffolk House District, where three Democrats are running.
Three candidates are facing off in the 16th Suffolk House District primary. The winner will take on Republican businessman Todd Taylor on April 1 in a district Obama carried 64-35. Finally, in the race to succeed Rep. Katherine Clark in the 5th Middlesex Senate District, two state representatives and a former school commission member are running. The winner will face Republican Melrose Alderman Monica Medeiros in the general in a district Obama won 59-39. For more information about special and mayoral election candidates, poll closing times, and future elections, see our calendar here.