With only a little trepidation, allow us to forecast the results of some of next November's elections.
The list starts with Comptroller Susan Combs, who is unopposed in the Republican primary on March 2 and didn't draw a Democratic opponent for the November general election. Lawrence Allen Jr., a Democrat first elected to the State Board of Education in 2004, is likewise headed for another term on that panel. Combs, at least, will face Libertarian Mary Ruwart of Burnet in the fall; Allen didn't even draw a Libertarian.
By our tentative count (the ballots aren't official yet, and might not even be complete), 89 members of the House won't have major-party competition in March or November, nine of the 16 senators on the ballot, and four members of the state's congressional delegation all apparently drew byes in this year's races.
Monday was the filing deadline for the 2010 elections, and the parties published preliminary lists of the people who want to run the state next year. Democrats and Republicans will nominate their candidates in the March primaries; Libertarians had the same filing deadline but will choose their nominees in a series of county, district and state conventions in March and June. The lists come with caveats: Candidates whose districts don't cross county lines file with local party officials and not with the state. Officials with both state parties say their initial lists might be missing folks who signed up locally. They have ten days to gather names from the counties, and to scrub and deliver the final rosters to the Texas Secretary of State, which administers elections. The full ballots, as they stand now, are in our Election 2010 database.
Republicans aren't offering voters any distractions from the governor's race at the top of the bill. Democrats, meanwhile, will be wrestling for the right to take on the GOP's incumbents in November. Texas Democrats haven't won a statewide election since 1994, haven't held statewide office since 1998, and haven't won a race for governor since 1990. Republicans also hold majorities in the congressional delegation, the Texas Senate, and in the Texas House.
The biggest surprise of the deadline filers was former state Sen. Hector Uribe, D-Brownsville, who broke a 14-year absence from the ballot by filing for Land Commissioner. He'll face Bill Burton of Athens in the Democratic primary; the winner will face incumbent Republican Jerry Patterson in November. Cinema trivia fans: Uribe and Patterson were both in The Alamo — Uribe as an actor and Patterson as an extra — and Uribe also had a speaking part in No Country for Old Men. Democrats Kinky Friedman and Hank Gilbert, meanwhile, will spar for the right to face Republican Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples in November.
Most of what's at the top of the ballot was known, but some new folks joined the battle. Five Libertarians want that job, led by Jeff Daiell, who's been on the ballot for Houston City Council, U.S. Senate, and for governor (twice). Seven Democrats filed, including Alma Aguado, Felix Alvarado, Bill Dear, Clement Glenn, Star Locke, Farouk Shami, and Bill White. If nothing else, that number raises the chances of a primary runoff on April 13 — the high number of candidates could make it difficult for anyone to get more than 50 percent. The Republicans have three candidates and you've heard of all of them: Kay Bailey Hutchison, Debra Medina, and Rick Perry.
Linda Chavez-Thompson joined the lieutenant governor field; the San Antonio labor leader will run against former Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle and restaurateur Marc Katz; the winner will face incumbent Republican David Dewhurst in November.
Other notes: U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, drew a primary challenge from Houston City Councilman Jarvis Johnson. The Democrats didn't put up candidates for all of the statewide court seats on the ballot, but the Libertarians did. Six Republicans and a Democrat are after an open seat on the Texas Supreme Court — a group that includes former state Rep. Rick Green of Dripping Springs — and two Republicans and a Democrat are in the running for the seat held since October by Justice Eva Guzman of Houston.