As Primary Season Dawns, Here Are Five Texas Races To Watch

In races for governor, Congress, and state representative, candidates are lining up to challenge incumbents and replace retiring lawmakers.

By Jill AmentDecember 12, 2017 7:00 am

The deadline for Texas candidates to file to run in the 2018 primaries was Monday. And if you’ve been trying to keep up with the latest rash of Congressional retirements and scandals, plus what’s turned out to be a pretty crowded field of Democratic gubernatorial candidates, you may be wondering how to sort through all of the noise.

The Austin American-Statesman’s Political Editor Bob Gee highlights five Texas races that are worth a closer look.

Beginning at the top of the ballot, several Democratic candidates want to challenge incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott. Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and Houston businessman Andrew White – who’s the son of former governor Mark White – are the leading contenders, Gee says. Valdez is perceived as the Democratic establishment pick, while White is expected to carve out a more centrist set of positions.

Incumbent Land Commissioner George P. Bush faces a challenge from the previous occupant of the office, fellow Republican Jerry Patterson.

“That was a real shocker,” Gee says. “He was a big critic of George P. Bush in [Bush’s] first term as land commissioner, criticizing him over his job running this redevelopment project at the Alamo, and also Hurricane Harvey relief.”

Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi) could face reelection troubles of his own, with continuing controversy over a sexual harassment settlement paid to a former staffer with taxpayer money, and revelations about a crass workplace culture in his Congressional office.

Gee says six Republicans have filed to run against Farenthold, including Bech Bruun, former chairman of the Texas Water Development Board.

State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, an Austin Democrat, has drawn several primary opponents. Dukes has faced criminal charges related to use of state funds, and had even promised to resign her seat at one time, though she failed to do so.

“She had been under indictment for almost a year on corruption charges, and then the Travis County district attorney dropped those charges this fall. In the interim, several Democrats said they would challenge her,” Gee says.

Five Democrats are running to unseat Dukes, including former Austin City Council Member Sheryl Cole.

The Congressional seat being vacated by Republican Lamar Smith has no shortage of aspirants. Smith’s district is centered in San Antonio, but also reaches into Austin, Hays County and the Hill Country.

Gee says the district is seen as Republican-friendly. Ten members of that party are running, including State Rep. Jason Isaac.


Written by Shelly Brisbin.