Big races and key questions during primary runoff Election Day

big races and key questions during primary runoff election day

TLMD Houston

Voters head back to the polls Tuesday for party primary runoffs to decide who'll be on ballots in November.

On March 6, if a candidate for a race failed to receive more than 50% of the vote the two top finishers would then move on to a runoff. Most of the races are not competitive in November because lawmakers drew the seats to favor one party over the other.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Election Day, though some polling places were delayed or closed Tuesday due to power outages from thunderstorms that moved through the area earlier in the day. Kaufman County, which was hit particularly hard in the storms, extended voting until 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Some of the races held on Tuesday are listed below. A complete list of runoff races is available here.

DOES THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE SURVIVE?

Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, is arguably the third most powerful person in state government. He's in his most competitive race yet with former GOP county chair David Covey. Covey received more voters in the March primary and earned the endorsement of the third-place finisher in the race.

Phelan led the lower chamber passing major conservative priorities on property tax reform, permitless carry of handguns, and major abortion restrictions. However, his lower chamber also tried to remove Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton from office during a controversial impeachment process and publicly rejected one of Gov. Greg Abbott's priorities, school choice vouchers.

Those items, along with the longstanding tradition to allow Democrats some power in Austin by chairing House committees, have put a target on his back from the right flank of the Republican Party. In a rare move, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, president of the Texas Senate and a frequent Phelan critic, has jumped into the race with money and time to oust his rival across the capitol.

Former President Donald Trump, Paxton, and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller have endorsed Covey. Former governor and US Energy Secretary Rick Perry is backing Phelan along with powerful Republican groups that protect incumbents: Texans for Lawsuit Reform and the Associated Republicans of Texas.

It is very difficult to defeat an incumbent in the small Texas House districts and early voting has shown a higher turnout in Phelan's Jefferson County. If Phelan falls in the election, it will set off a massive struggle for power in the lower chamber ahead of the January 2025 legislative session.

WHO WILL RUN THE DALLAS COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE?

Incumbent Sheriff Marion Brown is facing the person who recommended her for the job, former Sheriff Lupe Valdez. Both have high name recognition across the county. The race will largely hinge on which organization can get their people to the polls in a race expected to have a low turnout.

Brown argues she has put more attention, communicating and spending time in underserved parts of the county she argues were ignored under her predecessor. Valdez claims morale in the department has plummeted and she was urged to run by deputies within the department.

The sheriff oversees more than two thousand employees in the county and runs the Dallas County Jail.

WILL GOV. ABBOTT GET THE VOTES HE NEEDS FOR SCHOOL CHOICE VOUCHERS?

After the very public rejection of his top priority, Gov. Abbott has spent millions of dollars campaigning against fellow Republicans.

After the March results, Abbott said he needs two more votes to cross the 76-vote threshold he needs to pass legislation in the next session that will allow families to use public school dollars on private and home schools.

A group of mostly rural Republicans voted against the idea last session, believing it wasn't a conservative use of tax dollars and would divert attention and funding away from their local public schools. Abbott has backed challengers against Representatives Gary VanDeaver, R-New Boston, Justin Holland, R-Rockwall, and DeWayne Burns, R-Cleburne, along with select others across the state.

The three incumbents usually coast to reelection but are fighting off a historic amount of money from fellow Republican officeholders and pro-school choice money from outside political groups and ultra-wealthy donors.

WHO WILL FOLLOW A POWER BROKER IN WASHINGTON, D.C.?

Longtime Fort Worth Congresswoman Kay Granger is retiring. The one-time chair of the Appropriations Committee, Granger brought millions in projects and government funding to North Texas.

State Rep. Craig Goldman, R-Fort Worth, has wracked up the endorsements of Granger, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and others and raised far more campaign contributions than businessman John O'Shea.

However, O'Shea said he's a longtime friend of Attorney General Ken Paxton, who's endorsed him in the race. Goldman was one of the two-thirds of House Republicans who voted to impeach Paxton on bribery and abuse of power allegations.

The two candidates divide on Paxton and their views on the Russia-Ukraine War. The district is home to major defense contractors like Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. O'Shea said he opposes U.S. taxpayer support for Ukraine, voting against what he calls the "military-industrial complex." He argued Russia has a claim to the land they're trying to take in a recent Lone Star Politics interview. Goldman opposes Russia's invasion efforts and said he would have supported the bipartisan bill to send billions in foreign aid to help the eastern European country. The foreign aid bill means more work to build arms and weaponry in Fort Worth to send overseas.

WILL ABBOTT'S HELP BEAT BACK THE PAXTON 'REVENGE TOUR?'

Since his controversial impeachment trial and acquittal in the Texas Senate last fall, Attorney General Ken Paxton has been on a revenge tour to oust the lawmakers who tried to remove him from office.

In this second round of the primary, many of his endorsed candidates are running against people endorsed by arguably the most popular state-elected official, Gov. Greg Abbott.

In North Texas, Abbott is backing Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, who almost survived the March primary without a runoff. She's running against Paxton-backed David Lowe in House District 91.

Abbott has also backed Rep. Lynn Stucky, R-Denton, against Paxton-backed Andy Hopper.

Paxton has also targeted Rep. Craig Goldman in his congressional race against John O'Shea and Rep. Dade Phelan over the impeachment votes last year.

WHO WILL FILL THE ONLY OPEN TEXAS SENATE SEAT?

After a lengthy year of impeachment and special sessions, Sen. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, chose to not seek re-election and focus on his personal and business life. His decision left the sprawling Senate District 30 seat open northwest of the Metroplex.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and a long list of Republican officials, including former President Donald Trump, quickly endorsed Brent Hagenbuch, former Denton County GOP chair and businessman, to fill the seat. Hagenbuch has seen an infusion of campaign contributions in the last few weeks to mobilize his voters.

However, conservative attorney Jace Yarbrough has surprised many onlookers by tapping into the right-flank and activist side of the Republican party to put up a tough challenge for the seat. Yarbrough also joined lawsuits brought before the March primary, challenging the residency of Hagenbuch. The lawsuit is ongoing.

There is also a runoff on the Democratic side for the Senate District 30 seat. In that contest, Michael Braxton is taking on Dale Frey.

Braxton, a barbershop owner and a pastor from Denison, secured 38% of the vote in March compared to Frey's 33%. According to his bio, Frey worked for several governmental agencies including the Department of Education, the USGS, GSA and NOAA. Braxton and Frey defeated challenger Matthew McGee in the primary to advance to the runoff.

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