Runoffs will decide several top statewide races

Republicans have voted for tried-and-true incumbents and fire-breathing conservatives, while Democrats have learned they still have a lot of building to do if they hope to compete in November.

Dewhurst, Patrick enter Texas lieutenant governor runoff
Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and state Sen. Dan Patrick have advanced to a runoff for lieutenant governor in the Republican primary, extending an already bruising campaign for one of the state’s most powerful offices.

Dewhurst is seeking a fourth term and has said it would most likely be his last. Patrick has been in the Senate since 2007.

Patrick was leading Dewhurst in election results late Tuesday night.

Those two emerged as the top candidates from a bitter campaign that also included state Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples.

Each has claimed to be the most conservative and heavily courted tea party groups that were seen as the key to Dewhurst’s defeat in a 2012 campaign for U.S. Senate.

Alameel, Rogers advance to Texas Senate runoff
Dallas dental mogul David Alameel and frequent candidate Kesha Rogers have advanced to a runoff to decide the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination.

They were the top-two vote-getters in Tuesday’s five-candidate field for a post held by Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, but neither won a majority.

The runoff is May 27.

Alameel is a multimillionaire who has been endorsed by Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis. He has given to both Democratic and Republican candidates but now calls the GOP too extreme.

Rogers wants to impeach President Barack Obama but was the Democratic nominee during unsuccessful runs for Congress from a suburban Houston district in 2010 and 2012.

The Associated Press had called the race for Alameel, but uncalled it after a county’s results had been miscounted.

Paxton, Branch advance to attorney general runoff
Texas state lawmakers Dan Branch and Ken Paxton have advanced to a runoff for the Republican nomination for attorney general.

Branch, a state representative from Dallas, and Paxton, a senator from McKinney, are vying to replace Greg Abbott, who is running for governor.

Branch and Paxton finished ahead of Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman. Each claimed he was the most conservative candidate in the race.

Branch and Paxton have both served in the Legislature since 2003. Branch co-authored the 2005 state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Texas and is chairman of the House higher education committee.

Paxton served in the House from 2003-2012 before being elected to the state Senate.

Friedman, Hogan face runoff for ag commissioner
Jim Hogan and Kinky Friedman will face each other in a Democratic runoff for Texas agriculture commissioner.

The two men received the most votes, but neither got more than 50 percent in the three-way race with Hugh Fitzsimmons.

Best known as a singer and humorist, this was Friedman’s third run for statewide office. He campaigned in favor of legalizing marijuana, hoping to attract younger voters.

Friedman angered many Democrats when he ran for governor as an independent in 2006, clearing the way for Republican Gov. Rick Perry to win with 39 percent of the vote.

Hogan is a Cleburne farmer who was considered a relative unknown in the race.

They beat out Fitzsimmons, considered the favorite among mainstream Democrats.

Miller, Merritt head to GOP ag commissioner runoff
The Republican race for Texas agriculture commissioner is going to a runoff between Sid Miller and Tommy Merritt.

The two men received the most votes in Tuesday Republican primary, but neither got more than 50 percent.

Miller is a former state representative from Stephenville. He attracted statewide attention for his conservative views in the Legislature, including passing a bill that requires doctors to perform a sonogram before an abortion.

Merritt is a former state representative from Longview and founder of Gregg Industrial Insulators, which employs 500 people. He lost his seat to a tea party activist.

The agriculture commissioner is responsible for promoting Texas products while regulating food products for safety.

The runoff election will be held May 27.

GOP runoff set in race to replace US Rep. Stockman
The 12-Republican race to replace U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman is not surprisingly heading to a runoff.

Brian Babin and Ben Streusand were the top two vote-getters, but no one in Tuesday’s crowded field won a majority. The runoff is May 27.

Stockman is a congressional renegade known for inflammatory gun-rights comments and calls to impeach President Barack Obama.

Stockman originally filed for re-election in his suburban Houston district. But he changed his mind at the last minute and instead was unsuccessful in challenging U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in the Republican primary.

Those vying to replace him included two mayors and a former mayor, an insurance agent and a mortgage banker.

The runoff winner faces Democrat Michael Cole, a 2012 Libertarian congressional candidate who sought his new party’s nomination unopposed.

Texas GOP comptroller race too close to call
The Republican race for comptroller is too close to call.

State Sen. Glenn Hegar of Katy leads Kerrville state Rep. Harvey Hilderbran by nearly 25 percent. But as of Wednesday morning, he was falling just short of capturing a majority of the votes cast in Tuesday’s primary.

The race also featured tea party activist Debra Medina, who finished third, and former state Rep. Raul Torres of Corpus Christi.

Hegar could win outright, or head to a May 27 runoff with Hilderbran.

Whoever is the GOP nominee will be a heavy favorite in November. Houston businessman Michael Collier was unopposed for the Democratic nomination Tuesday.

Susan Combs, the state’s current chief financial officer, is not seeking re-election. She drew criticism from both parties over revenue projections that underestimated state spending power.

Abbott wins GOP nomination for Texas governor
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is the first new Republican nominee for the state’s governor in more than a decade.

Abbott coasted Tuesday night to a primary victory against three largely unknown challengers. The win had been considered a foregone conclusion since Abbott announced his bid to replace Gov. Rick Perry, who isn’t seeking re-election after 14 years.

Abbott already has spent months attacking his November opponent, Democrat Wendy Davis, whose primary also was uncompetitive.

The 56-year-old Abbott has been attorney general since 2003 and is a former Texas Supreme Court justice. His ambitions to succeed Perry were no secret while spending years stockpiling more than $20 million in campaign cash for a gubernatorial run.

Other GOP gubernatorial candidates were political unknowns Lisa Fritsch, Miriam Martinez and Larry Kilgore.

Texas Democrats nominate Wendy Davis for governor
Democrat Wendy Davis has become the first female gubernatorial nominee in Texas since former Gov. Ann Richards.

The Fort Worth state senator formally clinched her party’s nomination Tuesday night. She headlines a Democratic ticket that in November will seek the party’s first statewide victory since 1994, which was also Richards’ last year in office.

Neither Davis nor her Republican opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbott, faced a competitive primary. Gov. Rick Perry is not seeking re-election after a record 14 years in office.

The 50-year-old Davis became a national Democratic star last summer with a nearly 13-hour filibuster over new abortion restrictions. Her fundraising outpaced Abbott in the last half of 2013 but she’s still considered a heavy underdog.

Political unknown Reynaldo Madrigal was the only other Democrat on the ballot.

Democrats nominate Van de Putte for lieutenant governor
Texas Democrats have nominated state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte for lieutenant governor, sending the San Antonio pharmacist into the November general election to try to win back a seat held by Republicans since 1999.

Van de Putte has served in the Senate since 1999 and calls herself a pro-business and pro-veterans candidate.

She is currently the chair of Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs and Military Installations. She left her father’s funeral last year to return to the Capitol to support Sen. Wendy Davis’ filibuster on abortion restrictions.

Van de Putte was unopposed for the nomination for lieutenant governor. If elected in November, she would be Texas’ first woman and first Hispanic lieutenant governor.

No Texas Democrat has won statewide office since 1994.

US Sen. Cornyn wins Republican nomination in Texas
Incumbent John Cornyn has crushed tea party-backed U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman and six lesser-known primary challengers to win Texas’ Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.

As party whip, Cornyn is second in the GOP Senate leadership. He is the overwhelming favorite to win his third term in office during November’s general election.

Cornyn has been dubbed too moderate by a small group of tea party activists. He faced a last-minute challenge from the right by Stockman, a fierce conservative and House renegade.

But Stockman struggled to raise money. He did little organized campaigning, ignoring the media and alienating many top Texas grass-roots organizers.

Stockman even dropped completely out of sight for nearly three weeks in January — though it turned out he’d been part of an official overseas delegation.

Bush wins Texas GOP land commissioner nomination
Yet another Bush is rising among the ranks in Texas politics.

George P. Bush, the 37-year-old son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush easily defeated businessman David Watts on Tuesday to secure the Republican nomination for Texas land commissioner.

Bush’s mother, Columba, is from Mexico. His grandfather and uncle are former Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush, who also was a Texas governor.

Bush, a Fort Worth attorney, has worked to tamp down lofty expectations. But the Texas GOP has touted him and his political royalty surname as key to wooing Hispanic voters.

Bush becomes the overwhelming favorite in November against former El Paso Democratic Mayor John Cook.

He has raised a whopping $3.5-plus million — an unheard of sum for land commissioner, who administers state-owned lands and mineral resources.

Texas GOP nominates 4 incumbents for Supreme Court
The four Republican incumbents on the Texas Supreme Court have won their party’s nomination to run for re-election.

Four places on the state’s highest civil court are up for election this year, and on Tuesday Republican voters rejected all the challengers.

Nathan Hecht will run again for chief justice, while Jeff Brown and Phil Johnson beat their challengers for the GOP nomination. Jeffrey Boyd was not challenged in his race.

None of the Democratic candidates faced competition for their party’s nomination. Bill Moody, Larry Meyers and Gina Benavides moved on to the general election in November.

The Supreme Court in Texas only handles civil matters, but is considered the state’s highest court. The Court of Criminal Appeals is the highest court for criminal cases.

Democrats nominate Brown for Railroad Commission
Texas Democrats have nominated party activist and organizer Steve Brown for an open seat on the state Railroad Commission.

Brown beat Dale Henry in Tuesday’s primary, advancing to the November general election.

The Railroad Commission regulates the oil and gas industries in Texas. Commissioner Barry Smitherman is leaving office to run for state attorney general.

Brown says he wants to modernize the agency and help facilitate energy production while protecting the environment. He is a former Democratic Party Chairman for Fort Bend County.

Christian, Sitton to railroad commission runoff
Oil and gas technology executive Ryan Sitton and former state Rep. Wayne Christian are headed to a GOP runoff for an open seat on the Texas Railroad Commission.

Sitton and Christian finished in the top two Tuesday night, but neither got the 50 percent vote needed to avoid a runoff. They were in a crowded Republican primary that also included geologist Becky Berger and attorney Malachai Boyuls.

The Railroad Commission regulates the oil and gas industries in Texas and often is viewed as a jumping off point for other statewide offices. Commissioner Barry Smitherman ran for state attorney general, but lost Tuesday night in the primary.

Texas Democrats nominate Collier for comptroller
Houston businessman Mike Collier has clinched the Democratic nominee for Texas comptroller.

Collier had no primary challenger Tuesday night and will be a heavy underdog in November. He never has held elected office and no Democrat has won a statewide race in 20 years.

Republican Comptroller Susan Combs didn’t seek re-election. She had drawn criticism from members of both parties over revenue projections that underestimated state spending power.

Cook gets Democrats’ nod for land commissioner
Former El Paso Democratic Mayor John Cook has clinched his party’s nomination for land commissioner.

Lamenting that no one from El Paso has ever captured statewide office, Cook ran unopposed Tuesday. He will face George P. Bush in the general election.

Cook sought the nomination even after he knew it would mean running against Bush, a Republican whose uncle and grandfather are former presidents and whose father is ex-governor of Florida.

A guitar player, Vietnam War veteran and former school teacher, Cook also owned several small businesses.

He was mayor from 2005 until last year, when term limits prevented him from running again.

Cook has spent little money campaigning, but it’s more than he’s reported raising. With his famous political name, Bush has raked in more than $3.5 million.

Texas Democrats pick Houston for attorney general
Texas Democrats have nominated Houston attorney Sam Houston for state attorney general.

Houston was unopposed in the Democratic primary in the campaign to replace outgoing Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is running for governor after 12 years in office.

Houston says he wants to improve the office’s child support enforcement division and would be judicious in suing the federal government. Abbott has touted filing almost 30 lawsuits against President Barack Obama’s administration for what he calls federal overreach on state issues.

Houston says he also wants to beef up the office’s consumer protection division.

Houston previously ran for the statewide office in a failed campaign for the Texas Supreme Court in 2008.

He is not related to former governor and president of the Republican of Texas Sam Houston.

Longtime US Rep. Ralph Hall, 90, faces runoff
The oldest member of the U.S. House will face a runoff election as he seeks to return to Congress for an 18th and final term.

U.S. Rep Ralph Hall of Texas did not win 50 percent of the vote Tuesday night in the Republican primary in Texas’ 4th Congressional District, which stretches from Rockwall north and east toward Sherman and Texarkana. He’ll face challenger John Ratcliffe in a May 27 runoff.

The 90-year-old Hall is a World War II veteran who has served in Congress since 1980. He’s declared that this year’s re-election campaign will be his last.

Ratcliffe is a former U.S. attorney during the George W. Bush administration and mayor of the North Texas town of Heath.

 

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