Races to watch on election night

Here at Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters, War Room Division, it occurred to us that you, members of the crap-reading public, would be torn as to how to divide your attentions on election night as the returns come in. On one hand, there are races you care about. On the other hand, one shouldn’t let that get in the way of the massive amounts of alcohol you intend to consume, probably on some poor hapless candidate’s tab.

Thus, we herein present this handy guide on which races in Austin and around the state are worth watching as election returns come in tomorrow night. Hopefully this will save you enough time so that your political activism can remain balanced with your alcoholism.

And if this isn’t enough to whet your appetite for politics, if you’re in the Austin area on election night you can tune into News8Austin, where I’ll be joining Republican Ted Delisi, Quorum Report’s Harvey Kronberg, and news anchor Paul Brown for news and analysis on the election returns throughout the evening.


Republican Primary: Perry vs Hutchison vs Medina. Perry will lead. Will it be a run-off or a clear Perry win? Perry clearly thinks he can win it out-right, or he would have pulled down much of his TV traffic in recent days and instead saved it for the run-off. If he’s wrong, that means that more Republicans will have voted against Perry than for him.

Democratic Primary: White vs Shami vs a whole bunch of folks nobody ever heard of, including two Hispanics. White will lead heavily. Run-off or clear White win? Even with so many candidates on the ballot – seven in fact – the smart money’s on a clean win for White.

Lt. Governor

Democratic primary: Linda Chavez-Thompson is favored to win. Does Ronnie Earl’s history as the man who brought down Tom DeLay have any impact? If so, does Marc Katz become the spoiler that creates the run-off?

Agriculture Commissioner

Democratic Primary: Hank Gilbert versus Kinky Friedman. This is similar to situations such as when a car dealer or newscaster runs for office: Gilbert has the substance, but Friedman has the name I.D. Which wins?

State Senate Races

(both are Republican primaries)

SD5 (College Station to North Austin suburbs) Republican primary. Incumbent Steve Ogden, the chairman of the all-powerful Senate Finance Committee, should be ok. But challenger Ben Bius has been very aggressive, and this could be a test case for whether the “anti-insider” teabagger sentiment runs deep, or if they’re just messin’ around.

SD22 (Waco to Southern D/FW suburbs) Republican primary. Incumbent Kip Averitt is on the ballot whether he likes it or not (hint: he doesn’t like it. He quit campaigning a couple of weeks after the filing deadline), and many if not most folks in Waco are going to vote for him anyway. Will a popular incumbent who didn’t suit up for the game win it anyway, against fringe nobody Darren Yancy?

State House races

HD83 (Panhandle) Republican primary. They’ve written Republican Delwin Jones’ political obituary many times, and he’s survived them all – the only legislative race he ever lost was to Pete Laney, but that was in a Democratic primary back when the earth cooled. Jones later came back as a Republican, with Laney’s goodwill and friendship. Jones is in a big fight this time against challengers Zach Brady and Charles Perry. Will he survive this time or is he done?

HD11 (East Texas) Republican primary. Democrat Chuck Hopson switched to the Republican Party, for fear that he couldn’t win the general election. But now he’s in the fight for his life in the Republican primary instead, against 2 challengers – Michael Banks and Allan Cain. Does Chuck go or does Chuck stay?

HD76 (El Paso) Democratic primary. Incumbent Norma Chavez was previously thought to be doing well in her re-election bid against two challengers, until the El Paso Times released a poll over the weekend showing her neck-in-neck with one of her challengers, Naomi Gonzalez. Has the home town newspaper’s dislike for Norma gotten the best of their editorial judgment, or might Norma’s challenger get the best of her?

HD92 (Tarrant County) Republican primary. No-holds-barred cage fight pits incumbent Todd Smith against Jeff Cason. Some Republicans blame Smith for the death of voter ID, and have used the issue effectively. Then he got caught calling Republican women in his district “too stupid” on an answering machine message. We’ll see what Republican primary voters call Smith.

HD146 (Houston) Democratic primary. This is the re-re-match between (this time) incumbent Al Edwards and (this time) challenger Boris Miles. Both candidates have had their issues, but which one can convince voters that he’ll get it right this time?

HD43 (South Texas and Rio Grande Valley) Democratic primary. This is geo-politics at its best. Tara Rios Ybarra won the district 2 years ago because her base, the south end of the district, out-voted the incumbent’s base, the north end of the district. J.M. Lozano is challenging her this time, and similar to Rios’ last race, his base is in the north end of the district. Early voting this time suggests that last election’s voting trend hasn’t continued – the north end is out-voting the south end. Has she made in-roads in the north end or not?

HD36 (Rio Grande Valley) Democratic primary. This is the open seat that Kino Flores vacated following his indictment, and the race to take his seat got dicey in a hurry, featuring an abortion TV spot so rough I’m surprised the local stations didn’t reject it. Sandra Rodriguez is running against Sergio Muñoz Jr., with the bulk of the Flores organization apparently backing Muñoz. Money is pouring in from all quarters, and the race totals are nearing $1 million.

Local Travis County races

(all Democratic primary races)

County Commissioner Precinct 4: Margaret Gomez vs Raul Alvarez. Gomez supporters are happy as clams because they say she’s solid. Alvarez supporters aren’t happy as clams, because they say she’s not proactive enough. Both candidates are spending a lot of clams.

Judge, 201st District. This is a race defining which candidate has Democratic Party cred. Amy Clark Meachum, the challenger of sorts, is said to be leading against Jan Patterson, who has held a different judgeship for a decade. But Patterson was caught playing footsie with Rick Perry, which would have resulted in handing a Democratic-leaning court of appeals to the Republicans. Patterson has been explaining herself for the entire primary election, and you know what they say about candidates – if you’re explaining, you’re losing.

Judge, 299th District. This is a toss-up race with 4 candidates, but it’s likely to result in a runoff between Mindy Montford and Karen Sage. Who will lead going into a likely runoff?

County Court-at-Law #3. The race features John Lipscomb versus Olga Seelig. Lipscomb has most of the club endorsements, but Seelig got the Statesman. Both candidates are qualified, either though judicial experience or longstanding Democratic activism. This, along with the race for the 201st district court above, could be an indicator of whether the institutional strength of the local Democratic clubs remains solid.

J.P. Precinct 1. This is a toss-up race (if only in my mind) between Yvonne Williams and Daniel Bradford. Will voters see this generically as two qualified Democrats running, or at an Anglo gay Democrat (Bradford)  against an African-American Democrat (Williams), in what is largely an African-American district? Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

What races are we missing? Sheila Jackson-Lee? Ralph Hall? Terri Hodge? Some random incumbent nobody knew was in trouble who suddenly looks retired by 8:30 pm? Throw in your two cents.



11 Responses to Races to watch on election night

  1. Anonymous March 1, 2010 at 9:06 pm #

    Dora Olivio re-match 187 votes last D. Primary

  2. FUBAR March 1, 2010 at 9:12 pm #

    Anonymous (if indeed that is your real name): I actually thought about that one, and decided not to include it, mainly under the theory that if her challenger couldn’t get the votes out to beat her in 2008, it would be that much more unlikely in 2010. Maybe if the state House district overlapped with Jackson-Lee’s Congressional district I would think differently, but it doesn’t, so I don’t. That said, who knows – I could very well be wrong.

  3. whiskeydent March 1, 2010 at 9:18 pm #

    FUB, I am surprised that you are not keeping a close eye on the fierce Val Beard vs Avi Rangra race for Brewster County Judge. Rumor has it that Avi is picking up Farouk’s coattails.

    And since my nom de net is whiskdeydent, you can obviously see why I have a soft spot for another Brewster County candidate:

  4. FUBAR March 1, 2010 at 9:25 pm #

    Whiskeydent: I actually am keeping a close eye on the Brewster County judge’s race. I just didn’t think any other reader of this blog cared. Do I have any readers in Brewster County? Speak up!

    On that race, since you asked, I can report that the 4×8 sign war was going full blast as of 2 weeks ago when I was last there. I asked a store clerk about the race, and she reported that Avi Rangra was a very well-known figure in Alpine, but that most folks apparently either love him or strongly dislike him – not many in between. Meanwhile, over in Marathon, they had an event for him, complete with free food and everything, and I heard it was not very well-attended.

    My guess? Val hasn’t screwed anything up that I can see, so I’m guessing the good people of Brewster County will return her to Commissioner’s Court.

  5. Anonymous March 2, 2010 at 7:09 am #

    I don’t believe that “Democratic activism” qualifies a person to stand in judgment of those accused of crimes. Lipscombe also has prosecutor experience. However, Olga Seelig has been a prosecutor, a criminal defense attorney (which means she’s worked BOTH sides of the criminal case) and for the past four years she’s been on the bench for the city. That kind of hard work and experience truly does qualify her to be our next judge on County Court 3.

  6. FUBAR March 2, 2010 at 1:38 pm #

    Anonymous (if that is indeed your real name): clearly, those qualified to stand in judgment of those accused of crimes are qualified officially by the legal requirements to hold the office. It’s a fact that both candidates are legally qualified to hold the office, because they’re both successfully on the ballot as candidates for the office. The rest of the equation is whether voters see them as qualified. You are obviously entitled to your personal definition of qualified, but if Lipscombe wins the race, in my opinion, it will be in part because voters perceive that he is a longstanding Democratic activist. I realize that in the heat of partisan primary battles it’s difficult to see that there are other points of view, but my piece was not an advocacy piece, it is merely an attempt to describe the situation as it currently stands – and my description is how things currently stand. I have advocated elsewhere on this website for Olga Seelig, and I voted for her.

  7. Anonymous March 2, 2010 at 3:48 pm #

    Pretty good list, but it seems we have a couple interesting Republican primaries here in Central Texas — in HD-20 (Georgetown/Cedar Park), HD-52 (Round Rock and environs), and HD-47 (southwestern Travis County). Any thoughts on those?

  8. FUBAR March 2, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

    Anonymous (if indeed that is your real name): no, unfortunately I haven’t paid much attention. The Republican primaries for who will later be defeated by Maldanado and Bolton won’t interest me until later. I should have, but haven’t, been paying attention to the race for Gattis’ seat. Who do you think will win those races?

  9. Anonymous March 2, 2010 at 4:37 pm #

    Thanks for the reply, FUBAR (if indeed that is your real name). If I knew all the answers to the profound questions you raise, I might become the author of a widely-read and -admired blog.

    You know, you’ll have to know SOMETHING about those races for your gig on News8Austin tonight.

  10. FUBAR March 2, 2010 at 4:39 pm #

    How cute that you think people gotta know stuff before they go on TV.

  11. Anonymous March 2, 2010 at 6:03 pm #

    It’s almost as cute as FUB thinking Maldanado has a snowballs chance in Nov.

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