Notes on the Texas primary elections

Texas politicos waited so long to have a primary election that it seems completely anti-climatic now that it’s over. But at least for the truly-addicted like me (wipe that smug look off your face – like you too), we now begin the 9-week primary run-off period.

Some interesting doings from last night:

— while I’m not yet convinced that House Speaker Joe Straus is in trouble, last night’s results at the least put some air under the wings of those who hope to cause him trouble. Several of his House BFFs were defeated, and several more got the bejesus scared out of ’em.

— it will never be enough for the right-wing conservatives. Do you see the pattern emerging? Here it is: conservative Republican defeats incumbent Democrat. In the following election, second way-conservative Republican beats first conservative Republican, since the first conservative now has an actual voting record. Will it soon be that the new-and-improved definition of “conservative” is “non-incumbent nobody”?

— wow, what a bad night for Texans for Lawsuit Reform. Yep, they won some. But they themselves staked out the marque race they wanted as the latest proxy war with their enemies, the challenge to Senate district 25 incumbent Jeff Wentworth, they picked their candidate, and they gave her bajillions. She didn’t make the run-off.

— Party switching is SO 2008.  Four formerly-Democratic state House members had switched parties over the last couple of years. As of today, only one is sure to survive. Aaron Pena wasn’t even on the ballot. Chuck Hopson, who looked like a goner most of the night, is on life support in a run-off election. Same situation with J.M. Lozano. Only Allan Ritter seems to have survived quite nicely from his ordeal. In the case of Hopson and Ritter, had they not switched parties, they almost surely would have been defeated as Democrats anyway. But in future elections, I’m guessing incumbents will think longer and harder when the other Party comes knocking, because the switcharoo has proven to be a tough deal as well.

— Good news: the AFL-CIO endorsement is still powerful medicine around these parts, as witnessed by the Democratic primary for US Senate. Bad news: so it mistaken identity. There were four candidates in the Senate race, and none of them raised any money to speak of. That means virtually no meaningful communications with voters happened. Thus, in the run-up to last night, there were only two things that happened in that race in which any of them had any hope of getting voters’ attention: the televised debate in which all the credible candidates of both parties were invited to participate, and the AFL-CIO endorsement. Of the four Democrats, only Sean Hubbard and Paul Sadler were invited to debate. When the smoke cleared last night, it was clear that not only did the debate mean nothing, it meant less-than-nothing, and Sean Hubbard (who had impressed me so much in the debate that I voted for him) came up a little short was dead last. In the good news department, Paul Sadler, the one with the AFL-CIO endorsement, led voting, and it wasn’t even close. In the bad news department, Democrats have apparently now traded in their long-standing habit of voting for a guy mistaken for dead dancer Gene Kelly, in favor of voting for a guy mistaken for legendary dead Senator Ralph Yarborough – Sadler will face Grady Yarbrough in the run-off. Meanwhile, when was the last time a candidate whom media didn’t even invite to a debate end up placing in the money? Congratulations to Paul Sadler, and congratulations to the AFL-CIO, in a clear demonstration that the good guys’ support still means a lot.

— Speaking of celebrity mistaken identities, things must not be that bad, since a guy named Daniel Boone running in a Democratic Congressional primary lost handily.

— God help the guy who told David Dewhurst that if he just pulled that extra few million out of his pocket, he’d win without a runoff. Similarly, God help Dewhurst if, after his peeps telling him that a few more million would be necessary, he replied that he thought he already had it in the bag. I bet the U.S. Senate run-off between The Dew and Ted Cruz ends up being a $15 million investment for Dewhurst, at least. Also, since neither one of these guys has uttered a true word about the other one in at least two weeks, how bad will the lies get over the next nine? I’m sure both were on the phone with Tom Leppert late last night, trying to get Leppert’s endorsement, and presumably his 13-ish percent of the vote. Also, big congrats to Craig James for becoming the Republican Sean Hubbard – lots of motion, ultimately little progress.

— Go look at the current membership of the House Public Education Committee. Between retirements and defeats last night, things sure are getting lonesome.

What tidbits did I miss?



5 Responses to Notes on the Texas primary elections

  1. svsalon May 30, 2012 at 5:07 pm #

    Sid *Sonogram* Miller in a run-off with J D Sheffield (R) will be against Bill Norris (D) -Texas House District 59.

  2. Eric Miles May 30, 2012 at 9:50 pm #

    You missed the opportunity to point out how much of an empty suit Tom Leppert proved to be. With no core values, he was unable to convince the voters that he could be trusted…proving the adage “A Leppert can’t change his spots” no matter how hard he tries.

  3. Blue_in_Guadalupe May 30, 2012 at 10:53 pm #

    I’m fairly new to Texas politics and wasn’t in Texas 16 years ago when Ralph Yarbrough died so maybe that explains my inability to understand how anyone with two brain cells to rub together could possibly mistake a Grady for Ralph. Are you seriously saying that Democratic Party voters are that, how shall I say this politely, ill-informed? I too voted for Sean Hubbard after meeting both he and Paul Sadler and find it hard to imagine how a guy with no campaign or even a web page could possibly have drubbed Sean so badly. Please tell me you’re kidding about Ralph so I don’t have to join the Green party in search of voters with an IQ over 95.

  4. Jim Cullen May 31, 2012 at 12:18 am #

    You missed Doggett’s remarkable win in a district that was weighted toward San Antonio Latinos and designed to cut his legs out from under him. Tom DeLay is still headed to prison and Lloyd Doggett is headed back to Congress.

  5. Harold Cook May 31, 2012 at 1:35 am #

    Blue_in_Guadalupe: I hate to tell you this, but…yes. Texas Democrats more than once have nominated Gene Kelly, mistaking him for the dead dancer. It’s a small leap to imagine they’d mistake somebody else for the dead Senator.

    Jim – I didn’t miss that, I just chose not to write about it. I was pretty sure all along that Doggett could beat Romo. The only reason I doubted it was when he came on Capital Tonight looking a mess and said he’d lose if Travis voters didn’t turn out. Little did I (or he) understand that with the high numbers he ran up, he had to have carried a bunch of Bexar County as well. It was interesting, but hardly earth-shattering – Doggett has been dodging Republican grim reaper attempts since 2003 quite well.

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