As Campaigns Conclude, It's Up to the Voters Now

Early voting at the Acres Home Multiservice Center in Houston on Oct. 26, 2014.
Early voting at the Acres Home Multiservice Center in Houston on Oct. 26, 2014.

If Texas Democrats win a statewide race Tuesday night, it'll be an upset.

That’s not to say it's impossible, but a Democratic win on the statewide executive and judicial ballot would be something akin to an August blizzard.

The state government is turning over for the first time in years, with no incumbent running for any of the seven executive offices on the ballot. From the governor’s race through the contest for a spot on the Railroad Commission of Texas, the winners will be new to their offices in January.

Topping the slate is the gubernatorial face-off between Republican Greg Abbott and Democrat Wendy Davis. In the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, Abbott had a 16-point lead; the rest of the statewide races varied only in the actual numbers, but all of the Republicans were at least 12 points ahead of their Democratic opponents.

The Texas Supreme Court, which handles final appeals of civil cases, and the Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest court for criminal cases, each has nine members elected as Republicans. (Credit that odd phrasing to Lawrence Meyers, who was elected to the criminal court as a Republican and then switched parties last year in anticipation of his run this year for the civil court.)

 

In the only federal statewide race, polls show U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican, with a commanding lead over Democrat David Alameel of Dallas.

Farther down the ballot, redistricting has made for only a handful of competitive races.

Just one of the 36 congressional districts in Texas is considered competitive, as most of the races were decided during the party primaries earlier this year. Only Congressional District 23 appears to be in play this year, with U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, facing a challenge from Will Hurd, a San Antonio Republican.

Likewise, there’s only one seat truly up for grabs in the Texas Senate, where the Republicans currently hold a 19-12 majority. The Democrats are a factor there primarily because of a handful of experienced legislators in their ranks and a long-standing rule that requires approval from two-thirds of the members to bring up most legislation. In Tarrant County’s open Senate District 10, Republican Konni Burton of Colleyville faces Democrat Libby Willis of Fort Worth. The winner will replace Davis in the Senate.

The Texas House is also Republican by a sizable margin. And thanks to redistricting, it will remain that way no matter how Tuesday’s races come out. Only a dozen of the 150 races are really in question, and only seven of those contests involve incumbents.

Here are some of the races people are watching this year:

Competitive Congressional and Legislative Races
DistrictDemocratRepublicanLibertarianGreenExiting incumbent
CD-23 Pete Gallego (i) Will Hurd Ruben Corvalan - n/a
SD-10 Libby Willis Konni Burton Gene Lord John Tunmire Wendy Davis (D)
HD-23 Susan Criss Wayne Faircloth - - Craig Eiland (D)
HD-43 Kim Gonzalez Jose Manuel Lozano (i) - - n/a
HD-50 Celia Israel (i) Mike VanDeWalle David Dreesen - n/a
HD-94 Cole Ballweg Tony Tinderholt Robert Harris - Diane Patrick (R)
HD-105 Susan Motley Rodney Anderson W. Carl Spiller - Linda Harper-Brown (R)
HD-107 Carol Donovan Kenneth Sheets (i) - - n/a
HD-108 Leigh Bailey Morgan Meyer - - Dan Branch (R)
HD-113 Milton Whitley Cindy Burkett (i) - - n/a
HD-115 Paul Stafford Matt Rinaldi Kim Kelley - Bennett Ratliff (R)
HD-117 Philip Cortez (i) Rick Galindo - - n/a
HD-144 Mary Ann Perez (i) Gilbert Peña - - n/a
HD-149 Hubert Vo (i) Al Hoang - - n/a

 

A full set of brackets for all of this year’s Texas elections — from the primaries through today — is here, and will be updated with the results when we have them.

Voters are deciding some issues in addition to filling elective offices. Texas voters get to say whether some oil and gas tax revenue should be used for transportation projects instead of put into the state’s Rainy Day Fund. And voters around the state are weighing on local issues from transportation to health care.

General elections at the state level do not have runoffs (city and special elections have their own rules), so this is it. It’s all over but the voting.

 

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