Although this was a much anticipated election in many respects due to the number of challenges Texas statewide and Texas Senate and House incumbents faced, the real story was the turnout. Turnout, including the type of partisan voter that participates in the primary and the actual number of those primary voters registering their preference among the choices available for a given race, is certainly among the most critical determinants of which candidates win or lose elections, which is true for incumbents, challengers, and open seats. If a candidate does not secure more than 50% of the vote, a runoff election will be held on May 24th to determine the general election candidate. There was no big sea change or major upsets in the election results but due to unexpected voter turnout there are a number of runoffs, which will take place May 24th.
TURNOUT AT A GLANCE
• South Texas counties – Cameron, Hidalgo, Brewster, Hidalgo, Jefferson, and Mason – experienced major increases in the number of Republicans casting votes, exceeding the total number of Republican votes cast in 2018, including all of early voting and Election Day.
• Montgomery and Galveston counties set early GOP turnout records.
• On the Democratic side, around 480,000 people voted in the 15 largest counties, which is slightly ahead of the 2018 total but well behind 2020 (770,000) and 2008 (890,000) turnout totals.
• Voter turnout outside the 15 largest counties is estimated to be 5.73% for Republicans and 1.80% for Democrats.
Early voting, which concluded last Friday, February 25th, did provide some notable takeaways:
• Preliminary totals indicate early turnout was just shy of 10% of registered voters.
• Indications of the early vote and anticipated in-person votes might be considered record-setting for gubernatorial primaries, at least for the Republican primary.
• Republican voter participation was higher than the Democratic primary count, based on the information currently available – with just over 1.1 million people voting in the Republican primary statewide, and more than 625,000 people voting in the Democratic primary statewide.
• Governor Greg Abbott received nearly two-thirds (66.4%) of the vote, former state Republican chair Allen West (12.3%) and former Sen. Don Huffines (12%) of the vote;
• Lt. Governor Dan Patrick won handily (74.0%), as expected;
• Comptroller Glenn Hegar (81.6%) easily defeated his primary opponents ;
• Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller (58.5%) comfortably held off Rep. James White by more than 25 points;
• Senator Dawn Buckingham’s (48.4%) road to the nomination to head the General Land Office will need a runoff, against Tim Westley (14.7%); and
• Attorney General Ken Paxton’s (R) late ad blitz against former Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman appeared to yield the desired effect, as Paxton (42.7%) will face Land Commissioner George P. Bush (R) (22.8%) in the runoff.
Democratic Primary, four races will be settled by runoffs:
• Democrat Challenger Beto O’Rourke cleared the 90% mark, a much stronger showing than his 2018 primary for the U.S. Senate when he was held to 62% of the vote;
• Lt. Governor: Mike Collier (41.5%) will face Rep. Michelle Beckley (30.3%);
• Attorney General: Rochelle Garza (43.12%) will face either Joe Jaworsk (19.6%) or Lee Merritt (19.46%);
• Comptroller: Janet Dudding (46.1%) will face Angel Vega (34.7%); and
• Land Commissioner: Sandragrace Martinez (32%) will face Jay Kleberg (25.8%).
All incumbents seeking re-election were victorious (most were unopposed.). As mentioned, it was a good night for Lt. Governor Patrick, whose endorsed candidates fared well. Reps. Phil King (R-Weatherford), Mayes Middleton (R-Wallisville) and Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound), along with Kevin Sparks (R) won their respective nominations outright. Former Sen. Pete Flores’s (R-Pleasanton) comeback will require a runoff against Raul Reyes Jr (R-Castroville).
The race for SD27 (Lean D) to replace Senator Eddie Lucio is heading to a runoff between Morgan LaMantia (D-Brownsville) (33.75%) and Sara Stapleton-Barrera (D-Harlingen) (32.73%).
Rep. Art Fierro (D-El Paso) was the only incumbent to lose outright, falling to Rep. Claudia Ordaz Perez (D-El Paso), 65%-35%, in the only matchup of paired incumbents. Four incumbents were forced into runoffs:
• Kyle Kacal (R-College Station) will face Ben Bius (R-Huntsville) in HD12 (Safe R);
• Glenn Rogers (R-Graford) will face Mike Olcott (R-Aledo) in HD60 (Safe R);
• Phil Stephenson (R-Wharton) will face Stan Kitzman (R-Pattison) in HD85 (Safe R); and
• Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth) will face David Lowe (R-North Richland Hills) in HD91 (Likely R).
Rep. Stephenson can blame redistricting for his runoff. He received around 80% of the vote in counties he has represented and around 25% in counties that were added to the district. Similar dynamics may have impacted Rep. Kacal and Rep. Rogers.
Runoffs abound for open seats, though some may remain only projected at this point
• HD17 R: Stan Gerdes (R-Smithville) vs. Paul Pape (R-McDade)
• HD19 R: Ellen Troxclair (R-Austin) vs. Justin Berry (R-Lakeway)
• HD22 D: Joseph Trahan vs. Manuel Hayes
• HD23 R: Patrick Gurski vs. Terri Leo-Wilson
• HD37 D: Ruben Cortez vs. Luis Villarreal Jr.
• HD52 R: Patrick McGuinness vs. Caroline Harris (staffer for Senator Bryan Hughes)
• HD61 R: Frederick Frazier vs. Paul Chabot
• HD63 R: Ben Bumgarner vs. Jeff Younger
• HD70 R: Jamee Jolly vs. Eric Bowlin
• HD73 R: Barron Casteel vs. Carrie Isaac
• HD76 D: Suleman Lalani vs. Vanesia Johnson
• HD84 R: David Glasheen vs. Carl Tepper
• HD93 R: Nate Schatzline vs. Laura Hill
• HD100 D: Sandra Crenshaw vs. Venton Jones or Daniel Clayton
• HD114 D: Alexandra Guio and John Bryant led a tightly grouped field
• HD122 R: Elisa Chan vs. Mark Dorazio
• HD133 R: Shelly Barineau and Mano DeAyala were edging ahead of Greg Travis; and
• HD147 D: Jolanda Jones vs. Danielle Keys Bess or Reagan Flowers
Several open-seat candidates won outright including Salman Bhojani (HD92 D), Lulu Flores (HD51 D), Erin Gamez (HD38 D), Josey Garcia (HD124 D), Richard Hayes (HD57 R), Angelia Orr (HD13 R) and Kronda Thimesch (HD65 R).
Almost all of the legislative candidates preferred by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan advanced to the November general election. And most sitting House and Senate members seeking to return to the Texas Capitol kept their seats.