Vol 29, Issue 22 Print Issue

Election Leaves Three Dozen Races Unresolved

We'll skip the part where we list the results of the elections, pointing you instead to places where you can examine what the voters have done. Our scoreboard, with the vote numbers in it, is here. And our election brackets, which we're using to track the candidates from filing to swearing in, are available here. The Secretary of State's numbers for Republicans are here; for Democrats, here.

The primaries left 37 races undecided — runoffs that will keep candidates busy (and spending money) for the next 60 days. There are 25 on the Republican side, 12 on the Democratic side. Those races include five at the statewide level, 11 for Congress, three for the State Board of Education, one for the state Senate and 17 for the state House. Democrats have the biggest turnout obstacle, with only one statewide race and the rest, at some level or another, local.

The marquee race, and it'll get national attention, is the Republican runoff between David Dewhurst and Ted Cruz for U.S. Senate. Cruz is riding the national wave of insurgency in the Republican Party; Dewhurst has spent plenty of time railing at Washington and the administration, but is positioned as the establishment candidate. Democrats have a runoff, too, between former state Sen. Paul Sadler and a political newcomer named Grady Yarbrough. Their problem is different: Democrats are outnumbered by Republicans (their primary turnout was less than half the size of the GOP's) and it's been almost 20 years since their party won a statewide election in Texas.

Incumbent Inertia, Thwarted

U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-El Paso, was the only member of the Texas congressional delegation bumped off and others who were supposed to have tough races — who told people they were in tough races — skated on through. Democrats Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas and Lloyd Doggett of Austin head that list.

• Texas Supreme Court Justice David Medina landed in a runoff, as did Rick Perry appointee Barry Smitherman, who's trying to win election to the Texas Railroad Commission.

• Three members of the State Board of Education got the axe, including former chairwoman Gail Lowe, a Republican, Democrat Michael Soto, and Republican George Clayton, who finished third in a Republican primary and won't be in the runoff for his own seat.

• Sen. Jeff Wentworth is going to a runoff, but not one of his colleagues got beat or seriously challenged.

Donna Campbell of New Braunfels, who leap-frogged Elizabeth Ames Jones and got into a SD-25 runoff with Wentworth, R-San Antonio, might have been the biggest surprise of the election. And the breakdown shows where she's strong and he's weak. Wentworth led in Bexar County, with 39 percent to Jones' 38 percent and Campbell's 24 percent. That's where half of the district's voters live. Hays County is the next biggest, and lookee here: Campbell got 55 percent, followed by Wentworth at 29 and Jones at 17 (numbers are rounded). Comal is about the same size, and Campbell led there, too, with 37 percent to Wentworth's 32 and Jones' 31 percent. She was first in Guadalupe County, with 41 percent, followed by Jones at 31 and Wentworth at 28. Campbell led in Travis County, too, pulling 45 percent to Wentworth's 37 percent to Jones' 17. Last up: Kendall County, with the smallest population in the district. Wentworth got 37, Jones got 33 and Campbell got 30.

• Seven House members lost their reelection bids, and four find themselves in runoffs. Add those to the 30 state reps who didn't seek reelection. The dearly departed include Republicans Marva Beck, Leo Berman, Wayne Christian, Rob Eissler, Mike "Tuffy" Hamilton, Barbara Nash, and Vicki Truitt. Chuck Hopson, Jim Landtroop, J.M. Lozano, and Sid Miller are on the primary trail for another nine weeks. Eissler, Hamilton, Truitt, Hopson and Miller are all committee chairs.

• This is a head-scratcher: Eissler, R-The Woodlands, went down on election night with money in the bank. There was only one other guy in the race, so he wasn't holding it for a runoff. As of his last report eight days before the election, Eissler was sitting on $650,104. He raised another $28,500 in that week, but won't report final spending until July.

Upwardly and Downwardly Mobile

It was a mixed election for officeholders looking for promotions. Winners include Joaquin Castro, who's on his way to a general election for Congress in one of the six open seats in the delegation (two from retirement, four added to Texas in reapportionment). And four House members won GOP nominations for the four open state Senate seats: Kelly Hancock, Ken Paxton, Charles Schwertner, Larry Taylor.

The biggest loser might be Mike Jackson, who gave up a seat in the state Senate for an open congressional seat, only to miss the runoff. Michael Williams gave up his spot at the Texas Railroad Commission, couldn't get traction in the U.S. Senate race, switched to a congressional race, tumbled around in the redistricting maelstrom, and ran, finally, in a congressional primary that featured a dozen Republicans. He's going home. So is state Rep. Todd Smith, who lost to Hancock. A couple of local officials gambled on congressional seats and lost: Former Bastrop County Judge Ronnie McDonald and Bexar County Tax Assessor-Collector Sylvia Romo.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst didn't win, but at least he's still breathing. He'll be in a runoff next month. That goes, too, for state Reps. Pete Gallego, Marc Veasey, and Randy Weber, who'll be in runoffs for congressional nominations.

• Endorsement power? President Barack Obama endorsed U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-El Paso. Former President Bill Clinton visited El Paso on his behalf. And then Reyes lost, getting only 43 percent of the vote.

• Nice night: Republican consultant Jordan Berry went undefeated, with one client — Jim Landtroop, R-Plainview — in a runoff. His list included Reps. James White, R-Hillister, and David Simpson, R-Longview.

Mitt Romney's win in Texas put him over the top for the delegates he needs to win the Republican nomination for president.  

• Had the redistricting litigation not delayed Texas elections twice, the state's voters would be going to the polls next week. For the primary runoffs, originally scheduled for May 22 and then for June 5.