Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 14, 2016

Texas: What to Watch in the First Primaries of 2014

(By Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The nation’s first primary election of the 2014 cycle arrives today, and Lone Star State campaigns have braced themselves for low turnout thanks to unusually frigid weather.

Or as they say in some parts of Texas, it’s colder than a tin toilet in the Yukon.

Few places are prepared to handle ice and 30-degree temperatures, which could keep voters at home. As a result, many campaigns predict early voting and early media buys will have an outsized influence on the primaries.

A candidate must receive a majority of the vote to win Tuesday’s primary outright. Otherwise, the top two candidates will advance to a May 27 runoff.

Polls close at 8 p.m. EST. Here are six things to watch as results come in:

1. Does John Cornyn break 60 percent?
Hardly anyone in Texas politics says Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn faces true electoral trouble. Rep. Steve Stockman launched a disorganized, eleventh-hour challenge against him — and few in the GOP take the congressman’s attempt seriously.

“It’ll still be a stomping,” said a Texas Republican consultant.

Most savvy Republicans doubt Cornyn will have to even deal with a runoff. Instead, they’re watching to see if he can beat 60 percent.

2. Is Ralph Hall forced to a runoff?

Republican Rep. Ralph M. Hall’s bid for an 18th term is widely considered the most interesting federal race on Tuesday’s ballot. Attorney John Ratcliffe put $400,000 of his own money into his primary challenge in Texas’ 4th District.

“My theory is if Ralph has to go to a runoff, he’s already lost,” a Texas GOP operative said. “If a majority of the electorate votes against him, that’s a serious problem for Ralph Hall.”

But not everyone is so pessimistic about the oldest member of Congress, who has said this re-election campaign will be his last.

“It will probably be the closest primary of his career, but I think at the end of the day, Ralph pulls it out,” a more optimistic consultant countered. “He’s still wildly popular.”

3. Will Democrat Marc Veasey come back to Congress?
Tech attorney Tom Sanchez has mounted a well-funded effort against freshman Rep. Marc Veasey in the 33rd District. Many local Democrats say Veasey will carry the day.

But there is some doubt, given Sanchez’s million dollar investment in his campaign. President Barack Obama got involved, giving Veasey a last-minute endorsement.

It is unlikely there will be a runoff.

4. Will ex-Rep. Quico Canseco have a runoff?
Republicans bet former Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco’s residual name identification from his single term in Congress will help him crack 50 percent — or at least the high forties. But his primary rival, former CIA Agent Will Hurd, is running hard for the GOP nod in Texas’ 23rd District.

Incidentally, Canseco faced Hurd in 2010. In that crowded primary, the two advanced to a runoff that Canseco won.

5. Which two candidates make the runoff to succeed Stockman?
Twelve Republicans are running in the open-seat race to succeed Stockman in the 36th District in East Texas.

The result is chaos, and the crowded field has left Texas Republican operatives unsure which candidates will make the runoff. A candidate could reach the runoff with just 20 percent of the vote.

Texas Republicans point to former Woodville Mayor Brian Babin, former Pasadena Mayor Johnny Manlove or businessman Ben Streusand as the most likely candidates to face off in late May.

6. What is Pete Sessions’ margin over his primary challenger?

Tea party candidate Katrina Pierson has the backing of FreedomWorks and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, but that probably won’t count for much at the polls.

It is nearly impossible to find a Texas Republican operative who predicts Republican Rep. Pete Sessions will lose his 32nd District in the primary, let alone face a runoff.

  • radsenior

    The bottom line in Texas is will Republicans oust the trouble-some TEA-types or will they continue their strangle-hold on Texas? Grass-roots activists are the TEA-party fringe which has held back the nation as a whole. Look closely at every Senator and representative in every state across the nation. What have they accomplished for your state? On the national level they have corrupted the once proud Republican party. ” Elections do have consequences, locally, at the state level and nationally. Locally has the greatest impact on people as money, infrastructure and general fund usage impacts the hardest. If you do not get registered and do not vote, or are denied your right to vote, you are voting for the opposition! Five years later, the Tea Party is less popular than it ever has been, and less popular than the Republican Party itself, which has lower favorable ratings now than in 2009. Tea Partiers were shocked to discover that after two huge tax cuts, two wars and the worst economic crisis in a half-century, there was a large budget deficit that threatened to create a trillion dollars in debt, every year. But they were not shocked enough to consider raising any taxes — even though taxes were at a 60-year low.
    Too bad you can’t go after TEA-Republicans for failure to complete their fiduciary function for the people instead of the elite 1%!

  • Cathy Varoz

    My fellow Texans, Please consider DWAYNE STOVALL for US Senate. His opponent, Cornyn, is only interested in maintaining his position with the Washington elite. DWYANE STOVALL’S MESSAGE IS MORE POWERFUL THAN ANY AMOUNT OF MONEY THE OTHER CANDIDATES HAVE. He is a true conservative. He will represent Texas! Fire Cornyn!

  • ggm281

    Probably keep tea party. Because people like myself aren’t probably going to brave the ice and cold to vote. Only those with an axe to grind are likely to show up. I think the last primary had a 20% or less turnout.
    And as to your rant about revenue Taxed Enough Already is where they get their acronym. Probably not them you should be railing against. And since Democrats have raised taxes on “the 1%” multiple times, you might want to look at ways of shared sacrifice in the tax burden. After all, 97% of households are still paying 70 year lows in personal income tax. And bonus, when you raise taxes on the lower deciles, it accumulates for the top decile!!

  • Rufus Peckham

    Dwayne Stovall earned all of his TP endorsements. We have a lot of work to in this country, starting with the media. Stovall wasn’t even mentioned in this article.

  • radsenior

    Look at the deductions, exclusions, exceptions and limitations above the 1040 long form Adjusted Gross Income line. The NFL and
    Top earners on Wall Street and Banking should have their entire earnings(Up to $5,000,000.00) taxed and not limited to the first $110,100.00 for Social Security and federal taxes. Only the top 1% can take advantage of these restrictions to increased taxes.
    The besieged rich, also known as the top 1%, have over the years been able to purchase politicals in Washington and state capitals. Through the years they have received preferential and preferred treatment tax wise and huge contracts from every venue due to their close contacts with the powers of both parties. The NFL and other leagues with exemptions or preferential treatment must be brought to the same level as everyday citizens. There should be no cap on taxation for any corporation or entity. There should be no proprietary adjustments, exceptions, exemptions, exclusions or limitations to business’s except actual real expenses. Level the playing field!

  • ggm281

    I support tax reform with ALL deductions being eliminated whether green energy deductions or mortgage interest. And I’d be happy for ALL organizations who enjoy tax exempt status to lose it. I make no distinction between the NFL and UAW and Planned Parenthood or the Red Cross. At the very least, I think organizations should be banned from benefiting from legislation, grants, employment contracts, preferential regulatory treatment it they participate in a tax exempt organization whether labor, industry group, or NGO.

  • OhSayCanYouSee

    rinos planning for Cornyn to take McConnell’s place when he gets fired. Wish more of us had voted against Cornyn to at least send him a message that Republicans are about DEcreasing size of gov’t. Did not get the message about Stovall somehow, but I was definitely NOT voting for Cornyn–that way I don’t get as angry at him when he falls in with McShame and the dems.

  • Hima Layan

    Our gadgets, gizmos, computers, and vehicles were first produced in small quantities for those able to afford them and free to enjoy them.

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