Democrats in deep-red Texas turned out in the largest midterm primary election numbers in more than a decade Tuesday, propelling women candidates toward challenges to entrenched male Republicans in Congress and venting their anger at President Donald Trump in the first state primary of 2018.
Some election highlights:
U.S. Senate: Ted Cruz’s newest ad targeting Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke is a country jingle that warns, “If you’re going to run in Texas, you can’t be liberal, man.” Cruz tweeted the 60-second radio ad Tuesday night, shortly after the two advanced to a November matchup. The ad says O’Rourke “wants to take our guns” and calls him “liberal Robert,” referring to his given first name, and says he “changed his name to Beto.” Cruz also uses a nickname for his given name, Rafael Edward Cruz.
U.S. Representative: The packed Republican primary to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Joe Barton is headed to a runoff. None of the 11 candidates won a majority Tuesday, prompting a second round of voting May 22. The best known is Ronald Wright, an ex-Barton aide who was a county tax assessor-collector who added “In God We Trust” to tax bills and payment envelopes. Also advancing Tuesday was ex-Navy combat pilot Jake Ellzey. Barton is leaving after almost 30 years in Congress following the appearance online of a nude photo of him.
Governor: Former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and Houston investor Andrew White, son of former Texas Gov. Mark White, advanced to a May 22 runoff from a field of nine largely unknown Democratic primary candidates in their lonshot bid to unseat Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. After sailing to victory against little-known challengers, Abbott struck a cautious tone for his party. “We cannot afford to take Texas for granted,” said the incumbent. “This is a fight for our future and it begins now.”
Attorney General: Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton has clinched his party’s nomination for re-election after running unopposed despite being indicted on felony securities fraud charges. Despite that negative attention, Paxton wasn’t challenged in the Republican primary – even as other top members of his party were.
Texas State Senate: Sen. Van Taylor, 45, a state lawmaker since 2010, has won the Republican nomination to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson, one of eight Texas congressmen not seeking re-election this year. Taylor is a businessman and former Marine and Iraq War veteran. He has been endorsed for Congress by Gov. Greg Abbott and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.
Land Commissioner: In 2014, George P. Bush became the only member of his political family to win in his first election try. On Tuesday, Bush drew an unlikely challenger in Jerry Patterson, who preceded him as land commissioner. But Bush was backed by Trump and comfortably defeated his opponent.