As is often the case in Texas, there were many races this year in which all of the candidates in the district came from the same party. In those districts, the winners are determined by the primaries instead of the November general election. Some candidates won outright on March 1, while others must wait for a runoff in May to determine who will earn these seats. In several other races, the winners of the primary will face only token opposition in November. Only a small number of races will be considered truly competitive in the general election in Texas.
Here you will find highlights of several races of particular interest to the education community, including a race for the U.S. House, and contests for seats on the State Board of Education, in the Texas Senate, and in the Texas House of Representatives. We’ll also show you how ballot propositions fared in the primaries and highlight upcoming runoffs worth watching.
Congressional District 8 – U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands) survived a primary contest in CD 8 with three challengers, including former state representative Steve Toth (R). Brady, who chairs the powerful U.S. House Ways and Means Committee in Washington and has pursued Social Security legislation at ATPE’s request, secured just over 53 percent of the vote. There are no Democratic challengers in his race.
SBOE District 1 – This open race was created when incumbent State Board of Education member and educator Martha Dominguez (D) decided not to seek re-election. In a three-way race on the Democratic side, Georgina Perez (D) secured enough votes on March 1 to defeat Joe Fierro (D) and Lynn Oliver (D). A third-party candidate, Hugo Noyola, is also running in November, but it is likely that Perez will win the seat.
RUNOFF ALERT: SBOE District 9 – This district’s incumbent, Thomas Ratliff (R), is not seeking re-election. In a three-way race on the Republican side, the candidate with the most votes was Mary Lou Bruner (R), who has garnered national media attention for her controversial ideology. Bruner hovered just below the 50 percent threshold as primary returns were coming in, and she will face a runoff in May against Keven Ellis (R), who has been popular among the education community. Democrat Amanda Rudolph (D) and third-party candidate Anastasia Wilford will be on the ballot in November, but the district is drawn in a manner that heavily favors Republican candidates. This is definitely a runoff to watch this spring.
RUNOFF ALERT: Senate District 1 – This open race in east Texas generated by the retirement of Sen. Kevin Eltife (R) was one of the most closely watched primaries. All candidates in the race were Republicans. Rep. Bryan Hughes (R) was the front-runner in the primary but could not avoid a runoff. He will face the relatively distant second-place finisher and fellow Rep. David Simpson (R) again in May. Texas Parent PAC endorsed candidate James K. “Red” Brown (R) finished in third place behind Simpson and missed the runoff by only 13 votes.
Senate District 19 – Sen. Carlos Uresti (D) survived a primary challenge by Helen Madla, the widow of the late Frank Madla who held this Senate seat until losing to Uresti. Sen. Uresti will face Peter Flores (R) and third-party candidate Maximilian Martin in the November general election.
RUNOFF ALERT: Senate District 24 – Six Republican candidates and one Democrat filed to succeed Sen. Troy Fraser (R), who is retiring. The candidate earning the most votes in the Republican primary was Rep. Susan King (R), followed closely by Dr. Dawn Buckingham (R). Those two ladies will meet up again in a runoff on May 24. Rep. King has been endorsed by Texas Parent PAC. Democratic candidate “Jennie Lou” Leeder (D) will be on the ballot in November, but the GOP runoff winner will have a strong advantage in this Republican-oriented district.
Senate District 26 – San Antonio area Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D) mounted another challenge against Sen. Jose Menendez (D) in this Democratic primary race, but Menendez prevailed. Sen. Menendez will face two third-party candidates in November, Fidel Castillo and Scott Pusich, but the Democratic senator will be heavily favored to win again in the general election.
Senate District 27 – Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. (D) defeated a challenger, O. Rodriguez Haro, III (D) to win re-election, since there are no other candidates in the race.
House District 1 – Rep. Gary VanDeaver (R), who won the support of Texas Parent PAC, defeated repeat opponent George Lavender (R), who previously held the seat. Lavender received significant amounts of funding from Texans for Education Reform (TER), but the education community rallied behind VanDeaver. His re-election is secure now, since no other candidates of any party have filed to run.
House District 2 – In this close race, Rep. Dan Flynn (R) won re-election despite a challenge by Bryan Slaton (R).
House District 4 – In this rematch, Rep. Stuart Spitzer (R) lost his seat to the former representative Lance Gooden (R). No other candidates are in this race, so it’s a final victory for Gooden, who received an endorsement from Texas Parent PAC.
RUNOFF ALERT: House District 5 – This open race in which all the candidates were Republicans is heading to a runoff between the top two finishers, Cole Hefner (R) and Jay Misenheimer (R). Texas Parent PAC has endorsed Misenheimer.
House District 7 – This open race between David Watts (R) and Jay Dean (R) goes to Dean, who was endorsed by Texas Parent PAC. There are no other candidates in the race.
House District 8 – Rep. Byron Cook (R) defeated challenger Thomas McNutt (R) in this hard-fought race. Cook faces no opponent in November.
House District 12 – Rep. Kyle Kacal (R) is re-elected after defeating two challengers, Michael Stanford (R) and Timothy Delasandro (R).
House District 14 – Rep. John Raney (R) survived a challenge by Jess Fields (R) to win re-election.
House District 17 – Rep. John Cyrier (R), who was endorsed by Texas Parent PAC, once again beat his repeat opponent Brent Golemon (R) to earn re-election for another term.
RUNOFF ALERT: House District 18 – This open race to succeed retiring Rep. John Otto (R) necessitated a runoff on the Republican side. The top finishers were Keith Strahan (R) and Ernest Bailes (R). The winner of that runoff will face third-party candidate Evan Nagel in November but is likely to prevail.
House District 20 – In one of the most unexpected outcomes of the primary election, Rep. Marsha Farney (R) lost her race to challenger Terry Wilson (R). No other candidates have filed to run, which means that Wilson will take the seat. The primary results caught many by surprise as Farney’s seat was not believed to have been in jeopardy. Farney has been a member of the House Public Education committee and previously served on the State Board of Education.
House District 27 – Rep. Ron Reynolds (D) almost escaped a runoff but will instead face round two against Angelique Bartholomew (D) in a Democratic party runoff. On the Republican side, Ken Bryant (R) prevailed to win a spot on the November ballot.
RUNOFF ALERT: House District 33 – This is another open race to succeed outgoing Rep. Scott Turner (R). On the Republican side, there will be a runoff between John Keating (R) and Justin Holland (R) in May. Karen Jacobs (D) has won the Democratic party’s nomination. This race also features a third-party candidate who calls himself “Crazy” Rick.
House District 36 – Rep. Sergio Muñoz (D) beat his challenger Abraham Padron (D) and secures another term in the Texas House.
House District 37 – Rep. Rene Oliveira (D) defeated Don De Leon (D) to win re-election, too.
House District 49 – In this Democratic primary election, there were seven candidates altogether, but Gina Hinojosa (D) secured enough votes to avoid a runoff for this open seat being vacated by Rep. Elliott Naishtat (D). Hinojosa was endorsed by Texas Parent PAC. There is one third-party candidate (Rick Perkins) in the race still, but Hinojosa has the definite edge to become Austin’s newest state representative in November.
RUNOFF ALERT: House District 54 – This is a race to choose a successor for Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock (R), who has chaired the House Public Education committee but is retiring at the end of this term. Texas Parent PAC endorsed Scott Cosper (R), who garnered the most votes on March 1, but he is headed to a runoff against Austin Ruiz (R). Meanwhile, Sandra Blankenship (D) won the Democratic nomination.
House District 55 – Beleaguered Rep. Molly White (R) lost this race to her challenger Hugh Shine (R). Shine, who was endorsed by Texas Parent PAC, wins this election outright since there are no other candidates in the race for November’s general election.
House District 58 – Rep. DeWayne Burns (R) survived a challenge from repeat opponent Philip Eby (R) to win re-election outright. Burns was endorsed by Texas Parent PAC.
House District 59 – Rep. J.D. Sheffield (R), who was also endorsed by Texas Parent PAC, defeated challenger Brent Graves (R) to win re-election. Sheffield faces no opponents in November.
House District 60 – Texas Parent PAC-endorsed candidate Kevin Downing (R) could not muster enough votes to defeat Mike Lang (R) in this open race to succeed Rep. Jim Keffer (R). Lang wins the election outright with no other candidates in the race.
RUNOFF ALERT: House District 64 – This is another open race created by the retirement of Rep. Myra Crownover (R). Texas Parent PAC endorsed Lynn Stucky (R), who earned the most votes on the Republican side but will face Read King (R) in a runoff. Over on the Democratic side, Connor Flanagan (D) won the nomination in a contested primary.
House District 71 – In this crowded race to succeed Rep. Susan King (R) who is running for a Texas Senate seat, Stan Lambert (R) won the Republican nomination outright, defeating four other opponents. Lambert has been endorsed by Texas Parent PAC. There is a third-party candidate (Pierre LoPachin) in the race, too.
RUNOFF ALERT: House District 73 – Rep. Doug Miller (R) did not earn enough votes to avoid a runoff. He will face second-place finisher Kyle Biedermann (R) again in May to determine the winner. No other candidates have filed for a place on the ballot in November.
House District 75 – Rep. Mary Gonzalez (D) will keep her seat after defeating former state representative Chente Quintanilla (D). This one is a big win for the education community after Texans for Education Reform (TER) spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on behalf of Quintanilla trying to unseat Gonzalez, who serves on the House Public Education Committee and is an educator herself.
House District 77 – This open race between Adolfo Lopez (D) and Evelina “Lina” Ortega (D) goes to Ortega. She will succeed Rep. Marisa Marquez, who did not seek re-election this year. Ortega was endorsed by Texas Parent PAC, too.
House District 81 – Rep. Brooks Landgraf (R) won re-election after overcoming his sole challenger Josh Crawford (R).
House District 84 – Rep. John Frullo (R) similarly survived a challenge from Jim Landtroop (R) to win re-election.
House District 92 – Despite making negative headlines, Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R) overcame a primary challenge by pastor Scott Fisher (R), who earned the endorsement of Texas Parent PAC. Stickland must still run against Kim Leach (D), along with third-party candidates Travis Christal and Leah Sees, in November.
House District 94 – This is another race in which a Texas Parent PAC-endorsed candidate tried unsuccessfully to unseat the incumbent. Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R) prevailed over the more education-friendly Andrew Piel (R), but Tinderholt must still face Libertarian candidate Jessica Pallett in November.
House District 99 – Rep. Charlie Geren (R) defeated challenger Bo French (R) in another primary contest that received a good bit of media attention. A third-party candidate, Dan Hawkins, is running in November, but the well-known Geren is expected to prevail. Texas Parent PAC also endorsed Geren.
House District 110 – Rep. Toni Rose (D) won re-election outright by beating repeat challenger Sandra Crenshaw (D).
House District 114 – Rep. Jason Villalba (R) defeated Dan Morenoff (R) in a competitive primary match-up. Villalba must still face Jim Burke (D) and third-party candidate Anthony Holan in the general election.
House District 115 – Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R) defeated his repeat opponent and former state representative Bennett Ratliff (R), who was endorsed by Texas Parent PAC. There is a Democrat, Dorotha Ocker (D), running in the general election.
House District 116 – In another open race, Diana Arevalo (D) wins this election after defeating fellow candidates Martin Golando (D) and Ruby Resendez (D). This is the seat of Rep. Trey Martinez-Fischer (D), who opted to run for the Texas Senate instead.
House District 118 – This seat previously held by Rep. Joe Farias (D), who retired, was the focus of a special election in January, which John Lujan (R) won. In the March 1 Republican primary, Lujan predictably prevailed again, while Tomas Uresti (D) defeated Gabe Farias (D) to win the Democratic nomination. This will be a race to watch in November.
RUNOFF ALERT: House District 120 – This was another crowded open race to fill the seat of Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon (D). The top vote-getters were Barbara Gervin-Hawkins (D) and Mario Salas (D). They’ll meet again in a runoff to determine the ultimate winner.
House District 121 – House Speaker and Rep. Joe Straus (R) appears poised to win re-election in this district after defeating his primary challengers, Sheila Bean (R) and Jeff Judson (R). Straus and several of his lieutenants in the Texas House were targeted by the conservative group Empower Texans. There is a third-party candidate, Jeff Carruthers, still in the race, but Straus is predicted to keep his seat with ease and be well-positioned for the next speaker’s race in 2017.
House District 124 – Rep. Ina Minjarez (D) defeated her challenger Sergio Contreras (D) to win re-election outright.
House District 126 – It’s another open race to fill the seat of the retiring Rep. Patricia Harless (R). Joy Dawson-Thomas (D) earned the Democratic nomination following a contested primary and will face Kevin Roberts (R) and third-party candidate Eric Moquin in November.
RUNOFF ALERT: House District 128 – Rep. Wayne Smith (R) came in second behind his more conservative challenger Briscoe Cain (R) in the Republican primary, resulting in a runoff. The winner of that match-up will face Ken Lowder, a third-party candidate, in November.
House District 130 – In this open race to succeed the retiring Rep. Allen Fletcher, Tom Oliverson (R) gets the nod over Kay Smith (R). No other candidates of any party have filed to run.
House District 131 – Rep. Alma Allen (D) easily won re-election over her only challenger John Shike (D).
House District 137 – Texas Parent PAC endorsed Rep. Gene Wu (D) in his successful primary race against Edward Pollard (D). Kendall Baker (R) and third-party candidate Dan Biggs will also be on the ballot in November.
RUNOFF ALERT: House District 139 – This open race to succeed current Houston mayor and former Rep. Sylvester Turner (D) will be decided by a Democratic party runoff. Kimberly Willis (D) received the most votes, followed by Jarvis Johnson (D).
House District 144 – Mary Ann Perez (D), a former state representative endorsed by Texas Parent PAC, won the Democratic party nomination to compete against Rep. Gilbert Pena (R) in a re-match this November. Pena unexpectedly defeated Perez back in 2014.
House District 148 – Rep. Jessica Farrar (D) defeated challenger Dave Wilson (D) to win re-election decisively. She has no other opponents in the race.
House District 150 – This Republican primary produced one of the most surprising upsets when Rep. Debbie Riddle (R) lost to a more conservative challenger Valoree Swanson (R) in a four-person primary contest. Swanson will now go up against Michael Kelly (D) in the general election.
The Republican and Democratic primaries also gave voters an opportunity to weigh in on ballot propositions aimed at shaping each party’s platform. Not surprisingly, all propositions passed on March 1, including one on the Republican side aimed at doing away with educators’ and other public employees’ right to use payroll deduction for payment of voluntary membership dues to professional associations or labor unions.
To view complete election results from both the Republican and Democratic primaries, visit the Texas Secretary of State’s website. Primary runoff elections are slated for May 24. Stay tuned to Teach the Vote for election updates as the runoff competition gets underway, and check out the candidates’ profiles here on our website.
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