After a couple of election cycles notable for high turnover, 2014 could be pretty mild. Only 13 members of the House, four members of the Senate and one member of the state’s congressional delegation won’t be seeking re-election next year. There might be some involuntary retirements — that’s what elections are all about, after all — but here at the starting gate, the numbers are small.
Here’s the quit list:
House: Dan Branch, R-Dallas; Bill Callegari, R-Katy; Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe; John Davis, R-Houston; Craig Eiland, D-Galveston; Harvey Hilderbran, R-Kerrville; Tryon Lewis, R-Odessa; Rob Orr, R-Burleson; Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie; Allan Ritter, R-Nederland; Mark Strama, D-Austin; Van Taylor, R-Plano; and Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands.
Senate: Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth; Dan Patrick, R-Houston; Ken Paxton, R-McKinney; and Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands.
Congress: Steve Stockman, R-Friendswood.
Two other senators will be on the ballot this year, but not for their own offices. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, and Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, are running for comptroller and lieutenant governor, respectively. If they win, they’ll move up, but if they lose, they’ll still be senators when the new crop is sworn into office in January 2015.
Some state senators seeking re-election have an easy ride, with either no competition in the primary and none — or third-party only — in the general. Those without primaries include Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville; Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown; Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills; Kirk Watson, D-Austin; Royce West, D-Dallas; and Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls. Van Taylor, the Plano Republican running for Ken Paxton’s empty seat, has no primary opponent and no major-party candidate in the general election.
In nearly all races run in political districts drawn by the Legislature, the maps favor one party or another. That effectively moves the political risks out of November and into March, where incumbents have to watch their backs in primaries. U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Rockwall, drew five primary opponents this year. Next door, U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Plano, drew three opponents. Those are big numbers, but not unusual in those two districts. The one swing race in the congressional delegation — CD-23, currently held by Pete Gallego, D-Alpine — features a three-way Republican primary and the promise of a tough November race.
But for most members, incumbency is relatively safe and for some, it means very little campaigning will be needed next year to remain in office.