Congratulations, you made it through the March 6 primaries!
Okay, now what?
I’m glad you asked! But before we get to the answer, let’s start with a 30,000-foot review of what went down last Tuesday.
Less than 24 hours before the polls opened on primary election day, the Dallas Morning News reported that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had escalated his attempts to intimidate educators and suppress their vote. It was the latest assault by a band of politicians bought and paid for by Empower Texans, a funded by a handful of West Texas billionaires and obsessed with attacking educators and their allies.
Turns out, they had good reason to want to shut educators up.
When the dust cleared Wednesday morning, the anti-education organization and its accomplices lost more than a dozen races. As politics watchers surveyed the fallout, most reached similarly damning conclusions regarding the erstwhile political puppet-masters at Empower Texans. At the same time, 72 percent of pro-education candidates supported by ATPE PAC won their races outright, and another eight percent are headed to May 2018 runoffs as the top vote getters.
Compounding the troubles facing public education opponents, the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) filed a public information request this week seeking to uncover communications between Empower Texans and Paxton, as well as state Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), the Texas Public Policy Foundation, and others “regarding possible coordination to intimidate voters.”
“Scare tactics, intimidation, and voter suppression have no place in our democracy,” said Beth Steven, director of TCRP’s Voting Rights Program. “Unfortunately, the Orwellian-named ‘Empower Texans’ apparently believes that by scaring educators away from teaching young people about civic participation, they will stem the tide of a new and upcoming generation of voters. More jarring, however, is the possibility that our state’s chief law enforcement official is enabling these dangerous efforts. We sent this request to uncover any communications between the Attorney General’s Office and groups that are trying to suppress the vote. We need to restore trust and faith in our democracy, and that begins with finding out who is attempting to keep Texans away from the ballot box — and why.”
The education community’s biggest antagonist, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, survived his primary intact – yet not necessarily unscathed. As Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey pointed out, more than 300,000 Texas Republicans voted against Patrick and for public education supporter Scott Milder. After losing the primary, Milder announced he would split his ticket in November to vote for the Democrat, Mike Collier, in that race.
Ultimately both Republicans and Democrats exhibited record turnout, but University of Texas Professor Joshua Blank warns against reading too much into how turnout on either side translates to performance in the November general election. Professor James R. Henson offered a more in-depth analysis in this post for The Hill.
But before we turn our focus to November, there’s still some unfinished business in the party primaries – and THAT’S what’s next!
We’re watching 17 races in which no candidate earned more than 50 percent of the vote. The top two vote getters in each of these races will show down in a May 22 runoff election to determine who will represent their party on the November ballot. Early voting for these races runs from May 14 to May 18. You may only vote in the runoff of the party in which you cast your primary ballot. For example, if you voted in the Republican primary, you can only vote in the Republican runoff. Likewise, if you voted in the Democratic primary, you can only vote in the Democratic runoff. You cannot vote in the Democratic runoff after voting in the Republican primary, or vice-versa.
Just as with the March 6 primaries, the outcomes of the May 22 runoffs are incredibly important. We encourage everyone to consult our CANDIDATES page and make plans to vote!
REPUBLICAN RUNOFF RACES
- HD4: Former Rep. Stuart Spitzer (46%) vs. Keith Bell (26%)
- HD8: Cody Harris (45%) vs. Thomas McNutt (39%)
- HD13: Jill Wolfskill (39%) vs. Ben Leman (36%)
- HD54: Rep. Scott Cosper (45%) vs. Brad Buckley (42%)
- HD62: Reggie Smith (46%) vs. Brent Lawson (34%)
- HD107: Deanna Metzger (45%) vs. Joe Ruzicka (27%)
- HD121: Matt Beebe (29%) vs. Steve Allison (26%)
DEMOCRATIC RUNOFF RACES
- GOV: Lupe Valdez (43%) vs. Andrew White (27%)
- SD17: Rita Lucido (49%) vs. Fran Watson (35%)
- HD37: Rep. Rene Oliveira (48%) vs. Alex Dominguez (36%)
- HD45: Rebecca Bell-Metereau (45%) vs. Erin Zwiener (31%)
- HD46: Chito Vela (40%) vs. Sheryl Cole (38%)
- HD47: Vikki Goodwin (34%) vs. Elaina Fowler (29%)
- HD64: Mat Pruneda (42%) vs. Andrew Morris (39%)
- HD109: Deshaundra Lockhart Jones (45%) vs. Carl Sherman (40%)
- HD133: Sandra Moore (49.92%) vs. Marty Schexnayder (41%)
- ED12: Suzanne Smith (48%) vs. Laura Malone-Miller (26%)
Runoffs typically see some of the lowest turnout, as far as elections go. It’s not unusual for runoffs to see half of the voter turnout typically seen in the primaries. The problem is that the enemies of public education are counting on educators continuing this trend and sitting at home May 22. There is a very real risk that your efforts to support pro-public education candidates in these races will be for nothing if educators do not show up again in force.
The bottom line: Educators made a statement on March 6. The job isn’t finished yet, but we’re getting there.