For the last two months, we've brought you news and analysis on nearly two dozen hotly contested primaries. Here's a look at who won, who lost, and who's headed for runoffs in the top legislative and congressional races.
After a sometimes ugly campaign, two-decade incumbent Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, stomped Republican challenger Ben Bius.
The campaign included allegations of lying from both men. Bius also challenged the propriety of Ogden’s daughter being a registered lobbyist, while Ogden accused Bius of defaulting on a state contract. Though Odgen is generally regarded as a stalwart conservative, Bius sought to place his candidacy even more to the right, making the abolition of “generational welfare” a centerpiece of his rhetoric. Ogden stuck to a simple message: As the long-time chair of the Senate Finance Committee, he has the experience and expertise to handle the potential fiscal crisis looming over the upcoming session — and Bius does not.
David Simpson narrowly defeated GOP incumbent Rep. Tommy Merritt, R-Longview in an unexpected upset. Simpson, who served as mayor of Avinger (pop. 464) from 1993 to 1998, says the local Tea Parties drafted him to oppose Merritt. He is a devout Christian who campaigned largely on an anti-Washington, anti-illegal immigration platform. He describes his bid for office as a “mini Scott Brown race.” “I was asked by the people and it was about the people," Simpson said.
Merritt currently leads the House Public Safety Committee. He's known for his independent streak, which is probably the reason he has drawn opponents in every GOP primary but one since 2000.
Newly Republican state Rep. Chuck Hopson, of Jacksonville, won re-election for the first time since switching parties last year. Hopson has represented the East Texas district, which includes Cherokee, Henderson, Panola, and Rusk counties, since 2001. He shocked the Texas political world in November, saying he'd decided to leave the Democratic Party and join the GOP.
The switch was easily the biggest factor in his race. But he beat out both of his Republican challengers, Allan Cain and Michael Banks.
Republican voters of Williamsom and Milam counties will be spared a runoff in the HD-20 race to fill outgoing state Rep. Dan Gattis' Georgetown seat. Dr. Charles Schwertner, an orthopedic surgeon, emerged with more than 50 percent of the vote. Schwertner beat out three others — former Legislative Council head Milton Rister, former Cedar Park councilmember Stephen Thomas, and auditor Patsy Williams.
Schwertner, who is backed by the Texas Medical Association, spent four times as much as Thomas and Rister from Jan. 22 to Feb. 20, according to campaign finance reports.
Palmview attorney Sergio Muñoz Jr., is headed to the Texas Capitol after handing former school district trustee Sandra Rodriguez a decisive defeat in the HD-36 Democratic Primary. With no GOP or third-party candidate on the ballot for November’s general election, Muñoz will claim the seat currently held by state Rep. Ismael “Kino” Flores, D-Palmview.
Flores decided not to seek another term in the Legislature after he was indicted last year by a Travis County grand jury on charges that he hid sources of income, gifts, real estate holdings and other information from his financial disclosure forms. Muñoz Jr., is the son of former state Rep. Sergio Muñoz. He fended off allegations from Rodriguez that he was Flores’ handpicked successor. Rodriguez nearly upset Flores two years ago, losing by less than 1,000 votes.
State Rep. Tara Rios Ybarra lost her bid for re-election to Kingsville businessman J.M. Lozano, ending her short career as a representative for HD-43. Lozano won the seat by more than 12 percentage points.
Throughout the race, Rios Ybarra, a South Padre Island dentist, was forced to defend her moderate views in light of accusations hurled by Lozano that she was a “closet Republican.” Lozano said the issue must have resonated with voters. Rios Ybarra was first elected to the Texas House in 2008.
Republicans Paul Workman and Holly Turner are headed to an April 13 runoff. None of the three candidates in the GOP primary broke the 50-percent threshold to avoid a runoff, but Workman and Turner came out with the highest vote counts, knocking out David Sewell.
The winner out of the GOP primary will face incumbent Democratic state Rep. Valinda Bolton in November. Republicans think the district provides a real opportunity to turn a part of Travis County red. The southwest Travis County district includes some of the area's most affluent suburbs but has also been home to some headline-making white-collar job cutbacks. Bolton first won here in 2006 and was re-elected by just a couple thousand votes in 2008.
Larry Gonzales and John Gordon appear to be heading into a runoff for House District 52 in Williamson County. As of early Wednesday, the pair ran far ahead of two other GOP candidates, Stephen Casey and Alyssa Eacono, according to election results from the Williamson County website.
The winner of a runoff ultimately will take on incumbent Diana Maldonado, D-Round Rock, in the general election. A freshman Democrat in a district that has historically leaned Republican, Maldonado has been perceived by some as vulnerable. The general election will prove both a test of her personal political strength and of whether Democrats have gained ground with demographic shifts in the fast-growing suburban district north of Austin.
Gonzales is a 40-year-old Capitol insider, having worked on the staffs of several House members, the Lieutenant Governor and the Attorney General. Gordon, 63, is a Williamson County insider, who has advocated on local hot-button issues for years and worked in community organizations.
With nearly all precincts counted, former Plano City Councilwoman Mabrie Jackson and Plano businessman Van Taylor are likely headed to a runoff to replace state Rep. Brian McCall, R-Plano.
Jackson is the only candidate who has held public office. Perceived as the establishment favorite, she was endorsed by the Greater Dallas Restaurant Association, the Texas Hospital Association, the Texas State Teachers Association and The Dallas Morning News. "It was very clear that Plano wants a representative that is reflective of Plano, and we're going to work very, very hard to win this next election," Jackson said. As to how she'll proceed in the run-off, she said, "Well, I'm going to sleep tomorrow. Then we'll regroup, and we'll be ready to hit it."
Taylor had two factors in his favor: he's independently wealthy and has a solid conservative resume. He's also no stranger to political campaigns — before moving to Plano, he tried and failed to unseat U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco, in 2006. "It's clear that conservatives have spoken and rejected Mabrie's moderate message and negative attacks," Taylor said.
Democratic state Rep. Norma Chavez and El Paso attorney Naomi Gonzalez will continue their bare-knuckle battle in next month's runoff. Gonzalez ended the night with a slight lead over Chavez, but neither were able to break the 50-percent threshold to avoid a runoff.
Chavez, who was elected to the Texas House in 1996, has been fighting the battle of her political career against Gonzalez. Gonzalez, an assistant county attorney who in 2008 lost a bid for El Paso City Council, has tried to convince voters that Chavez has overstayed her welcome and that the district needs a change in leadership. Chavez has worked to defend her aggressive legislative style after a year of news headlines about her fights with other El Paso lawmakers.
The district the two are fighting over is a swath of central El Paso where nearly a third of the residents live in poverty.
Second verse, same as the first in El Paso’s HD-78, where Republican Dee Margo and Democrat state Rep. Joe Moody will face each other again in the November general election.
El Paso businessman Margo beat first-time GOP candidate Jay Kleberg in the race to represent West and Northeast El Paso in the Texas House. For Margo, the campaign is his third try for a seat under the pink dome. Margo, 52, is CEO and chairman of JDW Insurance and a well-known El Paso Republican. He ran in 2006 against state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, and lost in the heavily Democratic county. In 2008, Margo beat longtime El Paso state Rep. Pat Haggerty in a nasty GOP primary battle. But he then lost the general election to Moody.
The race was Kleberg's inaugural run for public office. The 31-year-old corporate recruiter, who grew up on his family's famed King Ranch in South Texas, moved to El Paso in 2004. Kleberg, who was competitive financially and raised $136,700 for the race, hoped to convince voters that he was the Republican who could actually beat Moody in November.
Lubbock Republican state Rep. Delwin Jones will face accountant Charles Perry in an April runoff, after winning 39 percent of the GOP primary vote. Perry said he wasn't surprised he made the runoff: "It’s not a money issue around here," he said. "It’s a person issue." The best-funded candidate, Lubbock attorney Zach Brady, ultimately lost outright.
But Perry will have an uphill battle against Jones. Perry has come under attack for only voting in one primary in the last 10 years. And Jones' campaign says Jones split votes with Brady, and in the run-off, they expect to bring those voters on board. "I do feel confident that we can persuade Zach’s voters to vote for us," said Jones campaign spokesman Scott Mann, "because we are the best candidate for West Texas."
Republicans Mark Griffin and John Frullo will meet in an April runoff for the chance to face Democrat Carol Morgan in November over the soon-to-be-vacated seat of HD-84 Republican state Rep. Carl Isett. Griffin got just under 50 percent of the vote; Frullo got about 43 percent of the vote.
The Lubbock County district will greet a new face after 16 years of service from Isett, a U.S. Navy reservist who announced late last year he was stepping down in order to concentrate on his military career and spend more time with his family. Griffin is a former Texas Tech regent who resigned his post in September 2009. Frullo is an accountant and businessman.
State Rep. Vicki Truitt, R-Southlake, held off three primary challengers and managed to stay out of a runoff defending a seat she's held since 1999.
Truitt came under fire for saying kind things about allowing local voters to raise gasoline taxes for local roads. And her North Tarrant County district has been a hotbed for Tea Party activists. Giovanni Capriglione, Rich DeOtte, and Diane Thorpe were trailing the incumbent in a race where the sheer number of candidates could force a runoff, but Truitt kept her head above the 50-percent mark.
Dallas attorney Eric Johnson scored an easy victory in the Democratic primary over incumbent state Rep. Terri Hodge, who pled guilty last month in a citywide corruption scandal. Because there is no Republican or Libertarian running in the general election, the seat is Johnson's. "I'd like to thank the voters of District 100 for their support at the polls today," Johnson said in a press release. "... I am incredibly honored and humbled that my fellow citizens have elected me to serve them in Austin."
Hodge, 69, backed out of the race in February after she pled guilty to lying on a tax return. But because it was too late to take her name off the ballot, Johnson, a neighborhood boy turned Ivy League education expert, had to run against Hodge's legacy — and convince her longtime supporters not to vote for her in solidarity. Hodge, who is awaiting sentencing, has represented the district that spans West Dallas, the Harry Hines hospital district and Fair Park since 1996.
Mesquite businesswoman Cindy Burkett narrowly avoided a runoff in the HD-101 Republican primary, winning just over 50 percent of the vote to defeat former Mesquite Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Greg Noschese and former state Rep. Thomas Latham. She will face freshman Democratic state Rep. Robert Miklos in November.
Dallas GOP strategists call Miklos' District 101 the "A-1 in danger" Democratic seat in Dallas. They say Miklos was swept into office in 2008 by a one-time-only surge of Democratic enthusiasm tied to Barack Obama's historic run for the presidency. Miklos flatly denies that, and says the district was trending Democratic anyway.
Former Collin County prosecutor Stefani Carter handily defeated Geoffrey Bailey, a consultant to T. Boone Pickens, in the HD-102 Republican primary. She will run against incumbent Democratic state Rep. Carol Kent in the general election.
The long-Republican district, which went Democratic in 2008, is, like HD-101, a big target for the Texas GOP.
Business consultant Loretta Haldenwang defeated former Texas Department of Transportation director Kim Limberg in the House District 105 Democratic primary by a 10-point margin. Haldenwang will run against Irving Republican state Rep. Linda Harper-Brown in November.
Democrats nearly snapped up the seat in 2008; after a recount Bob Romano lost to Harper-Brown by 19 votes — out of nearly 40,000 cast. Harper-Brown “was able to survive the 2008 tidal wave, and it made her realize she’s going to have to run an even harder campaign in 2010,” Dallas County Republican Party Chairman Jonathan Neerman said last month. “I don’t think the race will be nearly as close this time.”
Dan Huberty will face Humble anesthesiologist Dr. Susan Curling in a runoff to replace retiring state Rep. Joe Crabb, R-Atascocita.
Huberty, a vice president at Clean Fuels Energy Corp. and president of the Humble School Board, never had the most campaign cash in the four-way race but was swarmed with endorsements from conservative groups. Curling's campaign strategy involved personally knocking on thousands of doors.
A month ago Curling said, “If you ask anyone which candidate has come the farthest, I think hands down that would have to be me. Prior to this campaign starting, nobody knew who Dr. Curling was.”
In what's been a colorful race replete with accusations of cyber treachery and publicity stunts, voting returns show the contest between incumbent Al Edwards and challenger Borris Miles is too close to call. In unofficial voting returns, Miles has an 11-vote hold over Edwards — meaning the race is likely headed for a recount.
The stand-off revives a longstanding rivalry between the two candidates, who have competed against each other to represent the district twice before. Edwards won the seat in 1979 and has held it ever since — except for when Miles dislodged him briefly in 2006, capitalizing on fallout over Edwards' support of Tom Craddick and introduction of the infamous "Booty bill," a piece of legislation that Edwards intended to curtail an "epidemic of sexy cheerleading." Edwards won the seat back in 2008, after news broke of Miles' erratic behavior at a Christmas party, where he allegedly waved a pistol in the air and forcibly kissed another man's wife.
Preliminary voting totals early Wednesday morning show Will Hurd and Francisco "Quico" Canseco will likely be competing in an April runoff for the Republican nod in Congressional District 23.
Hurd, an ex-CIA officer, and Canseco, a San Antonio-based lawyer and businessman, have long been the frontrunners. Canseco has the support of the conservative establishment, many of whom believe his surname will lend him an advantage in the primarily Hispanic district. Hurd earned the endorsement of the San Antonio Express-News.
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