The results are in for the 2018 Texas Primary Election that took place yesterday, March 6 — the first primary in the nation. As predicted, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz will face former Congressman Beto O’Rourke in the Nov. 6 General Election. Texas is poised to send two Hispanic women to Congress for the first time. All incumbent statewide leadership fended off their Republican challengers and all incumbent judges won their primary races. Early voting numbers broke records for a nonpresidential election year as more than 885,000 people voted prior to March 6 — a 50 percent increase from the previous high of 592,000 in 2014. Despite the “surge” reported among Democratic early voters, a record 1.5 million Republican voters turned out overall, the second highest number in state history.
Before the General Election takes place on Nov. 6, candidates in five congressional races and eight Texas House races will face each other once again in the Primary Runoff Election on May 22.
All incumbent members won their primary races. Crowded fields of candidates vied for eight open Texas congressional seats and five are headed to a runoff.
CD 2 (Poe) – Runoff: State Rep. Kevin Roberts v. Dan Crenshaw
CD 3 (Johnson) – State Sen. Van Taylor
CD 5 (Hensarling) – Runoff: State Rep. Lance Gooden v. Bunni Pounds
CD 6 (Barton) – Runoff: Ron Wright v. Jake Ellzey
CD 16 (O’Rourke) – Veronica Escobar
CD 21 (Smith) – Runoff: Chip Roy v. Matt McCall
CD 27 (Farnethold) – Runoff: Bech Bruun v. Michael Cloud
CD 29 (Green) – State Sen. Sylvia Garcia
In CD 7, Congressman John Culberson won the Republican primary but Democrats came out in droves to attempt to turn the Houston seat blue — a district carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016. Democrats Laura Moser and Lizzie Pannill Fletcher are in a runoff and this will be the congressional race to watch in November. Additionally, eyes are on the districts of Congressmen Pete Sessions (also won by Clinton) and Will Hurd in November as potential swing districts.
Incumbent Republican Gov. Greg Abbott handily won his primary with over 90 percent of the vote. Former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and Andrew White, son of the late Gov. Mark White, are in a runoff to determine who will hold the golden ticket for the Democrats in November. The winner will face an uphill battle challenging Abbott, who has over $40 million in his campaign war chest and consistently ranks as the most popular statewide official.
The following incumbents also are expected to coast to re-election: Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, Land Commissioner George P. Bush, Railroad Commission Christi Craddick and Comptroller Glenn Hegar.
While Attorney General Ken Paxton should also easily win re-election, the Democrats have picked his out as the statewide seat to attempt to turn blue. Paxton is being challenged by Justin Nelson, an attorney who has been shown to raise significant campaign funds. The Democratic Attorneys General Association already has begun attacking Paxton for his ongoing securities fraud legal battle, using material created by members of his own party.
At this point, two new faces will grace the 31-member upper chamber during the 86th Legislative Session in 2019.
In the only open Texas Senate seat, Angela Paxton won the GOP primary 54.35 percent to 45.64 percent against Phillip Huffines. Paxton is the wife of Attorney General Paxton and Huffines’ twin brother serves in the Texas Senate. Angela Paxton secured the endorsement of Patrick. The candidates spent roughly $10 million vying for Senate District 8 vacated by Sen. Van Taylor (R-Plano), who won his primary bid to replace retiring Congressman Sam Johnson.
State Rep. Pat Fallon successfully unseated incumbent Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) with over 62 percent of the vote in a three-way race. Fallon secured the endorsement of Patrick.
In other Senate news, last month Sen. Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio) was found guilty on 11 felony charges, including multiple counts of fraud and money laundering. Uresti vowed to appeal the decision and will face federal sentencing in June, which could amount to years in prison and millions of dollars in fines. He also has another trial in May on separate felony charges of bribery and money laundering. Many in the Texas Democratic circle have called for Uresti to resign his seat, as his term does not expire until 2021 and state law allows him to continue to serve until all appeals are exhausted. However, no announcement by the embattled senator has been made. Following the February ruling, Patrick stripped Uresti of his committee assignments.
There were 13 open seats in the 150-member Texas House heading into the primary but there will be at least 19 new members in the lower chamber following the March 6 results. Six incumbent members lost their primary races: two Republicans and four Democrats. Two former members will return, one of which unseated his successor. Two incumbents are in runoffs to retain control of their seats.
On the Republican side in three races in which Abbott endorsed opponents of GOP incumbents, only one will not return next session if the other two can fend off Democratic opposition in November. Rep. Wayne Faircloth (R-Galveston) was defeated by Mayes Middleton, president of Middleton Oil Co., an independent oil and gas company. Middleton was hailed as the more conservative of the two.
Rep. Jason Villalba (R-Dallas), one of the most moderate members of the Texas House, lost his seat to conservative Lisa Luby Ryan, an interior designer and businesswoman. Without an incumbent in the race, the Democrats will be eyeballing the seat in November.
On the Democratic side, incumbent Rep. Diana Arevalo (San Antonio) lost by 115 votes to former Rep. Trey Martinez Fisher, her predecessor. Additionally, Rep. Tomas Uresti lost to opponent Leo Pacheco. The aforementioned felony fraud conviction of Rep. Uresti’s brother, Sen. Carlos Uresti, did not work in his favor.
In Dallas, longtime Rep. Roberto Alonzo lost to Jessica Gonzalez, and in Austin, embattled Rep. Dawwna Dukes was ousted by House legislative staffer Jose “Chito” Vela and former Austin City Councilwoman Sheryl Cole, who will continue to vie in a runoff.