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Inside Intelligence: About Those 2016 Legislative Races...

For this week’s nonscientific survey of insiders in government and politics, we asked about your 2016 legislative and statewide office predictions.

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For this week’s nonscientific survey of insiders in government and politics, we asked about your 2016 legislative and statewide office predictions.

With our first question, we focused on eight key House primaries: four in which Joe Straus and his allies face challenges from tea party candidates and four in which tea party incumbents face challenges from establishment-backed candidates.

On this question, the insiders clearly favored the chances of the establishment Republicans. Clear majorities picked John Frullo (65 percent), Byron Cook (74 percent), Charlie Geren (87 percent) and Straus (97 percent) to win their primaries. 

The insiders by contrast were bearish on the chances of the tea party incumbents winning their primaries. They were most pessimistic about Jonathan Stickland and Molly White, with just 19 percent predicting a primary win for each. Another 26 percent picked Tony Tinderholt to win and 34 percent picked Matt Rinaldi to win.

We shifted with the next questions to quiz the insiders on who they thought would make the runoff in several key multi-candidate GOP primaries.

In the case of the seven-candidate contest for the open Railroad Commission seat, the insiders favored Wayne Christian (75 percent), John Greytok (48 percent) and Gary Gates (47 percent) as the ones most likely to advance to the next round. No other candidate was picked by more than 10 percent of the insiders.

In the race to fill the open Senate District 1 seat vacated by Tyler Republican Kevin Eltife, the insiders clearly favored Bryan Hughes (90 percent) and David Simpson (63 percent) to make the runoff. James "Red" Brown was mentioned by 21 percent. Interestingly, 14 percent thought the race would be won without a runoff.

Finally, in the race to fill the open Senate District 24 seat vacated by Horseshoe Bay Republican Troy Fraser, the insiders clearly preferred Dawn Buckingham (69 percent) and Susan King (64 percent) to make the runoff. Brent Mayes was named by 27 percent and Jon Cobb was named by 13 percent.

We collected comments along the way, and a full set of those is attached. Here’s a sampling:


Which of these GOP House incumbents will survive?

• "You're pandering to the right by including Speaker Straus on the list. 100 Empower Texas candidates can run against him and he will still beat them without a runoff."

• "Watch out for Crazy Town, USA... aka DFW. That area bodes extremely well this cycle for the Tea Party types and very, very poorly for those who are not."

• "Molly White, Tony Tinderholt and Rinaldi have no real opposition outside Austin — the Lobby doesn't like 'em. Cook and Geren will survive because their opponents are weak — so the establishment and the right wingers will split — Stickland and Frullo won't be back."

• "Most incumbents survive because the 84th Texas Legislature was the most conservative in history, according to Dan Patrick and Greg Abbott. Messaging will be the key."

• "Sadly, a few who should be changing pins at a bowling alley will remain."


Which two candidates make the runoff in the open Railroad Commission GOP primary?

• "There is only one candidate in this race because they genuinely want the job and will take it seriously and that's John Greytok. Most of the others are perennial candidates or wannabes in search for an office."

• "Gates spends the most (mailers and radio already!?) to get in, and the Christians confuse people, and Martinez learns The Carrillo Lesson of Hispanic names on down ballot races."

• "Wayne Christian makes it because he already has name recognition statewide from his recent run for RRC. He probably won't win it without a runoff because of confusion that will occur with the other candidate with the surname Christian."

• "Gates gets in low 40s and buys his vote with tons of mail."

• "Have absolutely no idea. There isn't a significant candidate with any name ID."


Which two candidates make the runoff for the open Senate District 1 GOP primary?

• "Hughes and Simpson are fighting for the same voters and Hughes will beat him and lead into the runoff. Brown slips in with the support of sane voters."

• "There is something about parts of that district that loves an interestingly unusual candidate."

• "Is Simpson running a campaign? It's like he's disappeared."

• "Hughes wins without runoff."

• "Red Brown will have Tyler support... but Tyler won't be able to match the voters Bryan will have come out for him in the runoff."


Which two candidates make the runoff for the open Senate District 24 GOP primary?

• "Ryan Downton makes it with Tim Dunn's support, Susan King gets in despite her effectively late entry with solid support in Taylor County and enough in Bell. Dawn Buckingham is third because she has no geographic base in the district and has been Dunn's main target."

• "Dawn will win the whole thing. I'll hesitantly give Susan the nod for the runoff over Mayes due to size of Abilene. But watch out for Mayes. He could edge Susan out altogether."

• "Toughest race to predict. Cobb and Dawn both have baggage."

• "Mayes comes in first, Buckingham buys second place and Cobb comes in third — then Mayes wins it."

• "Dawn Buckingham is working hard and should make the runoff. The other person in the runoff should be Brent Mayes. It could also be Jon Cobb. Both of these guys are working together, are supported by the crazy wing of the R party."

Our thanks to this week's participants: Cathie Adams, Brandon Aghamalian, Brandon Alderete, Clyde Alexander, Jay Arnold, Andrew Biar, Allen Blakemore, Tom Blanton, Chris Britton, Raif Calvert, Lydia Camarillo, Kerry Cammack, Corbin Casteel, Elna Christopher, Randy Cubriel, Beth Cubriel, Curtis Culwell, June Deadrick, Nora Del Bosque, Ted Delisi, Tom Duffy, Jack Erskine, Jon Fisher, Terry Frakes, Dominic Giarratani, Bruce Gibson, Stephanie Gibson, Eric Glenn, Daniel Gonzalez, Clint Hackney, Wayne Hamilton, Bill Hammond, Ken Hodges, Steve Holzheauser, Deborah Ingersoll, Mark Jones, Robert Kepple, Richard Khouri, Tom Kleinworth, Dale Laine, Pete Laney, James LeBas, Luke Legate, Myra Leo, Ruben Longoria, Matt Mackowiak, Steve Minick, Mike Moses, Nef Partida, Gardner Pate, Robert Peeler, Tom Phillips, Wayne Pierce, Allen Place, Gary Polland, Jay Pritchard, Jay Propes, Ted Melina Raab, Tim Reeves, Patrick Reinhart, David Reynolds, Carl Richie, A.J. Rodriguez, Grant Ruckel, Tyler Ruud, Andy Sansom, Jim Sartwelle, Barbara Schlief, Stan Schlueter, Robert Scott, Steve Scurlock, Ben Sebree, Jason Skaggs, Ed Small, Larry Soward, Leonard Spearman, Dennis Speight, Colin Strother, Sherry Sylvester, Sara Tays, Jay Thompson, Trey Trainor, Vicki Truitt, Corbin Van Arsdale, Ware Wendell, David White, Darren Whitehurst, Peck Young, Angelo Zottarelli.

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