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And They're Off!

It's time to harvest the political speculations of the last several months: Democrats and Republicans have until January 4 to put their names on the ballots, or not, in anticipation of the March 2 primaries.

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If you're checking off the boxes for gubernatorial candidates, Thursday belonged to Gov. Rick Perry, who filed for reelection before noon on the first day he was allowed to do so.

Friday belongs to Houston Mayor Bill White, who's expected to say he's decided to run for governor rather than for the U.S. Senate. Only one Democrat — William Dear — filed for that post on Day One, but that list also includes Felix Alvarado, Kinky Friedman, Hank Gilbert, and Farouk Shami.

Monday will see the news move back to Austin, where U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison will file papers for her place on the primary ballot, opposite Perry and Debra Medina, who's running but hasn't put in the paperwork (and the check).

Those are just the headliners. It's time to harvest the political speculations of the last several months: Democrats and Republicans have until January 4 to put their names on the ballots, or not, in anticipation of the March 2 primaries.

No real surprises on the first day, but Steve Ogden finally answered the question about his race (he's in), and did it slowly enough to draw the first primary opponent of his career, in Ben Bius of Walker County. Dan Gattis won't be anywhere on the ballot, but that little shocker dropped a few days before the filing started.

Changes are part of the deal. Gilbert, the gubernatorial candidate, might call an audible before White's big production on Friday. Gilbert's campaign says he will conduct "a virtual press conference with Texas media to address his status in the race for Governor of Texas." The Democrat's staff sent the notice out at midnight, offering no clues as to what's going on. Other Democrats have been talking (constantly) about the shape of the party's ticket if White's in the race for governor. Gilbert, who ran four years ago for Agriculture Commissioner, could stay put, get out, or move into another statewide race. The most likely landing spot? Probably land commissioner, or another run at agriculture.

Dr. Alma Aguado, a San Antonio physician, says she's switching from the U.S. Senate race to the race for governor — still running as a Democrat. She's got a federal campaign account going — it had a $750 balance at the end of September — but hasn't run a state report yet. That filing isn't due until next month. William Corwin Dear, a private investigator from Mt. Calm, filed to run for governor, too.

It's also possible for candidates to move once they've filed. They can change races, pull out, you name it. It's a one-month biennial festival of political ambition, bluffing, chicanery, and rumor. It culminates when the doors close on January 4th and the parties stop accepting filings, and there's almost always something unexpected at the deadline.

Candidates file with the state parties if they're running a race in a district that crosses county lines. Statewide races cross all of them. But lots of urban and suburban candidates have districts that don't cross the lines; they can file in their county party offices. The state parties put the filings on the Internet; local offices have varied levels of skill. So the lists we've got are incomplete, because not all of those local parties have distributed the information.

The Republican Party of Texas lists its candidate filings here. The Texas Democratic Party's list is here. We'll add links for other counties, and to a comprehensive list we'll compile from those, when they open the spigots.

Top of the Ballot

Several Democrats filed for statewide office on the first day, including Barbara Ann Radnofsky, a Houston lawyer running for Attorney General; Jeff Weems, a Houston lawyer who wants to be on the Texas Railroad Commission, and Bill Burton, a real estate instructor in Athens running for land commissioner.

Weems summarized his challenges (and those of other newbie candidates) like this: "I'm the new guy. You guys don't know me. A lot of people don't know me."

The Legislature

Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, filed to run for a new term. He looked at the governor's race earlier this year and has been mentioned steadily as a potential candidate for lieutenant governor. But you can't run for two offices on the same Election Day, and Watson's looking for a repeat. Several Republican senators filed for reelection, including Kevin Eltife of Tyler, Robert Nichols of Jacksonville, Ogden, Jane Nelson of Lewisville, Joan Huffman of Houston, and Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio.

Carol Kent is seeking a second term in the House. But the Dallas Democrat, who upset a Republican incumbent in 2008, is now on defense. She filed on the first day major-party candidates can sign up. She's in a pack of people who filed for reelection on the first day.

A partial list of Democrats seeking reelection to the House also includes Robert Miklos of Mesquite, whose initial focus will be on utility and insurance rates, and fellow Dallas County officeholders Roberto Alonzo, Kirk England, Allen Vaught; Donna Howard of Austin; Ellen Cohen of Houston; Yvonne Gonzalez Toureilles of Alice, Mark Homer of Paris, Patrick Rose of Dripping Springs, and Joe Heflin of Crosbyton.

The Republican list includes Linda Harper-Brown of Irving, who survived the tightest vote count on the state ballot last year, winning by fewer than two dozen voters out of more than 40,000; Dallas County Republican Reps. Will Hartnett, Dan Branch, Angie Chen Button, and Jim Jackson; Harris County Republicans Patricia Harless, Wayne Smith, John Davis, Bill Calegari, Beverly Woolley, Dwayne Bohac, and Ken Legler; and Betty Brown of Terrell; Byron Cook of Corsicana; Wayne Christian of Center; Chuck Hopson of Jacksonville; John Zerwas of Houston; Todd Hunter of Corpus Christi; Phil King of Weatherford; Doug Miller of New Braunfels; and Delwin Jones of Lubbock.

The challenger list after the first day includes former Rep. Jim Murphy, R-Houston, who'll be trying to win his seat back from freshman Democrat Kristi Thibaut. Greg Noschese and Cindy Burkett both filed in the GOP primary hoping to challenge freshman Rep. Robert Miklos next November. Charles Perry filed to run against Delwin Jones.

Dr. Susan Curling, chief of staff at both the Kingwood and Humble hospitals, will challenge Rep. Joe Crabb, R-Atascocita, for the HD-127 seat in the House. In fact, he'll have at least four challengers if he runs, including her, Dan Huberty, Addie Wiseman and Martin Basaldua.

Abel Bosquez of Amarillo will challenge Rep. David Swinford, R-Dumas, but that's a Democrat challenging a Republican; first, the two have to get through the primaries.

Lance Gooden, a former legislative assistant to Rep. Betty Brown, R-Terrell, is putting together a challenge to his former boss in the Republican primary. He's got a website up and running, but hasn't filed yet. She has filed.

No surprise here: Sergio Muñoz Jr., whose dad was a state representative, filed in the Democratic primary in HD-36. He's running for the seat now held by Rep. Ismael "Kino" Flores, D-Palmview. Flores announced, after he was indicted earlier this year, that he won't seek reelection. Sandra Rodriguez, who ran against Flores in 2008, is expected to get into this race, too. In another open seat, Republican Lanham Lyne of Wichita Falls filed to run for David Farabee's spot; Farabee won't run again. Three of the candidates who want to replace Gattis in the House all filed: Dr. Charles Schwertner, a surgeon; Patsy Williams, who listed her occupation as auditor/concealed handgun instructor; and Stephen Thomas, who left the Cedar Park city council to enter the race.

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2010 elections Angie Chen Button Bill White Byron Cook Donna Howard Dwayne Bohac Griffin Perry Jane Nelson Jim Murphy Joan Huffman Phil King Rick Perry Robert Nichols Roberto R. Alonzo Todd Hunter Wayne Christian