Tuesday’s primary elections went generally very well for conservatives. I’ll touch on the key legislative races below, but it is worth noting that Gov. Rick Perry decisively won re-election by standing strongly for the right. His victory is a win for all Texans.
Also worth noting are the large number of incumbent Democrats who lost in their primaries. What that means for their party and November remains to be seen. Most of the losses were in “safe” Democratic seats. Lesson: the Democrats are apparently more “anti-incumbent” than the allegedly anti-incumbent tea party GOPers.
After all, the “anti-incumbent” narrative some had tried to manufacture for the 2010 Republican Primary seems to have not taken hold in the minds of voters. Some bad incumbents lost, or are poised to lose in the April run-offs, but we may also have lost a good incumbent. Bottom-line: Republicans don’t part easily with their incumbents.
Now, let’s walk through re-election campaigns we supported. (Not covered are folks endorsed who didn’t have primary challenges.)
Ogden, Senate District 5. Steve Ogden won re-election in the face of a very negative campaign against him. Ogden will return to his post as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, where he has ably managed Texas’ affairs.
Flynn, House District 2. Dan Flynn was being challenged by a pro-tax moderate. Flynn won decisively.
Brown, B., HD4. Betty Brown was challenged by her former intern. She lost by 108 votes and a recount is possible. Brown has been a top target in both primaries and general elections for several years.
Brown, F., HD14. Fred Brown will go into a run-off against a former county official, Buddy Winn.
Eissler, HD15. Big win for Rob Eissler.
Miller, HD59. Sid Miller fended off a strong challenge.
Orr, HD 58. Rob Orr, another win.
Hancock, HD91. Kelly Hancock was challenged in Tarrant County by a loud advocate of higher gasoline taxes and big-spending government. Hancock won with 75% of the vote. This is important.
Now let’s turn to the races where we supported challengers to Republican incumbents…
House District 7. Conservative David Simpson easily defeated entrenched incumbent Tommy Merritt, who perennially scored at the bottom of every conservative rating of the legislature! This was a David v Goliath match-up, and David wins.
House District 11. Democrat-turned-Republican Chuck Hopson won re-election, over two challengers who were poorly funded. Hopson said throughout the winter his voting record won’t change. We hope that was pre-campaign rhetoric and that his party conversion will take hold philosophically.
House District 92. Seven months ago State Rep. Todd Smith was considered invulnerable, and on March 2 proved just how hard it is to beat an incumbent. For our part, Empower Texans focused exclusively on Smith’s role in stymieing Voter ID reform, and his support of bad fiscal policy. It’s our hope Smith improves his voting record. Certainly Republican voters said clearly they expect Smith to do better — 92% of Republican primary voters statewide supported ballot propositions dealing with voter ID and government budget control. For his part, Smith ran a strong race and I congratulate him for winning his race well.
House District 65. This probably only barely qualifies as a loss. State Rep. Burt Solomons is perhaps the safest of safe incumbents, yet he was almost felled by the grassroots insurgent campaign of Mike Murphy. Moving to the open seats…
Senate District 22. Was this an open seat? The incumbent’s name was on the ballot, but had withdrawn from the race citing health concerns. His opponent was Darren Yancy, whom we endorsed. Establishment forces worked a “vote Averitt” campaign because they wanted to force the situation the district now faces: a Republican committee will select the nominee if Averitt indeed refuses to serve. The downside is the Democrats, who failed to field a candidate, will also get to pick a nominee for their ballot. This becomes a very costly general election race and could impact the important congressional district 17 race against incumbent Democrat Chet Edwards. Very strange deal all around.
House District 3. Erwin Cain won handily in this east Texas seat where he has been a consistent champion for conservatives and grassroots interests. He will face incumbent Democrat Mark Homer in the fall.
House District 50. Patrick McGuinness, who we endorsed, will now face incumbent Mark Strama in the fall.
House District 52. Our endorsee, Larry Gonzales, is heading to a predicted run-off with John Gordon, to see who takes on the incumbent Democrat, Diana Maldonado in the fall.
House District 66. Another predicted run-off will feature our endorsee, Van Taylor, take on Mabrie Jackson. This seat has been held by the retiring Brian McCall, who strongly supported Jackson along with other “moderate” influences. Expect her record on the Plano City Council will now get a much closer examination.
House District 74. Republican newcomer Yolanda Sotelo Garza lost in the primary. Her opponent, Thomas Kincaid, will go up against Pete Gallego in a heavily Democratic district.
House District 78. Conservative Dee Margo, our endorsee, fended off two others to be the Republican nominee to take on Democratic incumbent Joe Moody in November.
House District 84. A run-off was expected in Lubbock’s three-way race to replace retiring conservative champion Carl Isett. John Frullo, who we endorsed, will face former Texas Tech regent and local political establishment darling Mark Griffin.
House District 85. Our friend Jim Landtroop will advance to the fall for a challenge to incumbent Dem Joe Helfin.
House District 87. There were bare degrees separating Victor Leal from Four Price, in terms of philosophy. We endorsed Leal, but look very favorably upon Mr. Price. Both men were seeking to replace the retiring David Swinford.
House District 93. Barbara Nash, who we endorsed, ran and won a good primary race. Look forward to her taking on Paula Hightower Pierson.
House District 96. A great win for conservatives was Bill Zedler’s return bid to House District 96. He easily beat a moderate challenger. Zedler will go on to challenge incumbent Democrat Chris Turner — a rematch of the 2008 race in which the Obama wave helped give Turner a win. Will the changing national tide play a role this time?
House District 101. This is a great win, with our endorsee, Cindy Burkett, winning outright in a three-way race where she was greatly outspent. The Dallas Morning News didn’t like her pro-taxpayer positions; the taxpayers apparently did.
House District 102. See comments about HD101. Stefani Carter ran an outstanding, issues-focused campaign based on conservative principles. She won with 75% of the vote against a pro-gas tax candidate.
House District 122. Our endorsee Lyle Larson easily won in this bid to replace retiring State Rep. Frank Corte.
House District 149. Our endorsee, Jack O’Connor, ran a great race and will face off against Diane Williams in a run-off. They are working to take on incumbent Democrat Hubert Vo in November.
Other legislative races where we’ll now re-consider our involvement are those with run-offs where we didn’t originally endorse.
House District 83. We sat out the first round, which featured State Rep. Delwin Jones being challenged by two conservatives. Jones only got 38% of the vote and has a run-off with CPA Charles Perry, a grassroots leader.
House District 47. Had three pretty good folks in this race, now there are two. We’ll examine both more carefully in the coming weeks in advance of the run-off. Holly Turner versus Paul Workman. Expect these two to generate a lot of fireworks…
House District 127. Four candidates sought to replace retiring Rep. Joe Crabb. Emerging from the race are Dr. Susan Curling and Dan Huberty. This is Curling’s first big move into politics, while Huberty has served as president of Humble ISD’s school board.
Other races of note…
Collin County Judge. Incumbent Keith Self has been a tireless champion for low taxes, fiscal transparency and responsible budgeting. He won with 58% of the vote against a well-funded moderate who wanted to increase spending.
Railroad Commission. Probably one of the most disappointing losses was that of Victor Carrillo, the conservative, reform-minded and well-regarded chairman of the state’s railroad commission. While a statewide office, most folks don’t know much about the position, what it does, who the three (staggered term) incumbents are, etc. Suspect the race result here will get some serious consideration.
Supreme Court. We were very excited to see Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, appointed to the post only recently, decisively win election to the seat in her own right.