Texas Primaries Pose a Test for Democratic Enthusiasm


Unlike many previous election cycles, Texas is the only state hosting a primary on Tuesday and the first in a midterm election cycle drawing intense national interest over whether a possible Democratic wave could flip control of the U.S. House or Senate in November.

Most of the polls in the state will close at 8 p.m. ET, but some areas in the far western part of the state will be open until 9 p.m. ET. The energy displayed by Democrats in a state that traditionally leans Republican may bode well for the minority party in Washington, if it can be sustained throughout the year and replicated in areas with competitive races.

But statewide in this primary Democrats out-voted Republicans in early balloting, a sign that both of our major political parties are ready to compete.

Democrats have also been winning special state legislative elections around the country, in states including Florida, Wisconsin and Kentucky that were once considered safe for Republicans.

Keep up with election returns from The Texas Tribune's election tracker below, and follow along for live updates throughout the night from KUT reporters and producers. Sarah Davis of West University Place, Wayne Faircloth of Galveston and Lyle Larson of San Antonio.

Abbott went to particular great lengths to unseat Davis, dumping around a quarter million of his own dollars on the race.

What happened in Texas' 7th Congressional District?

As member station KUT's Ben Philpott reported, the last Bush now holding office in the country - George P. Bush, the grandson of former President George H.W. Bush and nephew of former President George W. Bush - is facing a primary challenge in his race to remain the Texas land commissioner. Democrats have 25 contested congressional primaries, and Senate nominee Beto O'Rourke raised $2.4 million in the final three months of 2017, more than U.S. Sen.

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Even some Houston Democrats who agree with their national counterparts' move in spirit worry it only strengthened Moser ahead of Tuesday.

The DCCC's maneuvers - the very embodiment of "the establishment" that many voters hate - may have had the opposite of the intended effect and could end up propelling Moser into the May runoff.

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State Land Commission George P. Bush, the nephew for former President George W. Bush, won the Republican nomination for another term.

And that effort is facing some resistance just over two years after his father, Jeb Bush, succumbed to the challenge from Trump. All three challengers have targeted Bush's oversight of the Alamo, particularly his work on restoration of the site of the historic 1836 battle. "There are questions about how well his office has handled Hurricane Harvey relief".

And in the 32nd District, the two runoff spots went to civil rights lawyer Colin Allred and former Obama administration official Lillian Salerno in their bids to unseat Sessions.

In all likelihood, most of them.

How many primaries for Texas' eight open congressional seats will have to be settled in runoffs?

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Runoff elections are expected on May 22 in some of the most heavily contested districts where one candidate is unlikely to receive the majority required to win outright.

State Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, also won her party's nomination Tuesday for the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston, placing her on track to win in the fall.

Other possible exceptions are state Sen.

But that doesn't mean these winners are the best Republicans to govern the Lone Star State.

Who came out on top in the costly primary fight between Phillip Huffines and Angela Paxton?

Statewide, the election results were mixed, with both traditional Republicans and staunch conservatives mostly holding already established ground. It's divided some of the most powerful players on the far right in Texas, not to mention two of the most well-known families in conservative circles. But voters in the Lone Star State have been voting for nearly two weeks already - and there's been a big surge in enthusiasm across the board. But Bush is running against a former land commissioner who wants the job back.

Which Democrat is going to run against Abbott? Texas Gov. Greg Abbott easily clinched the GOP nomination, but Democrats appear to be headed for a runoff.

Uncertainty runs deep about how exactly the primary will shake out.

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For Republicans, former Ted Cruz chief of staff Chip Roy, former Central Intelligence Agency agent William Negley, state Rep. Jason Isaac and former Bexar County GOP Chairman Robert Stovall are seen as having the best chances to advance to a runoff. Find a complete list of them here.