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Texas Election Source provides frequent, insightful updates to our subscribers about the state of elections in Texas. We track more than 600 candidates for statewide office, Congress, the Texas Legislature and the State Board of Education. We also follow special elections, important local elections and constitutional amendment elections. If you’re interested in Texas politics, then let Texas Election Source be your guide to the ballot box.

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Recently Posted News & Analysis

Election News for June 26

HD3: Rep. Cecil Bell Jr. (R-Magnolia) announced he would seek re-election.

HD16: Rep. Will Metcalf (R-Conroe) announced he would seek re-election.

CD1: Tyler nurse Shirley McKellar has filed paperwork re-designating her federal campaign account for a fourth consecutive race against U.S. Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Tyler) as a Democrat. McKellar received 27%, 23% and 24% in the 2012, 2014 and 2016 general elections, respectively.

See our 2018 Challengers page for all 172 challengers and open seat candidates who we confirm have taken a formal step toward running for state and federal office from Texas in 2018.

©2017 Texas Election Source LLC

Election News for June 25

CD11: Llano rancher and former State Democratic Executive Committee member Jennie Lou Leeder has established a federal campaign committee for a potential challenge of U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Midland) as a Democrat. In 2016, she ran unsuccessfully for the open SD24 seat, losing to Dawn Buckingham (R-Lake Travis), 72%-28%, in the general election.

CD33: Irving resident and Republican precinct chair Emmanuel Lewis has set up a CrowdPAC fundraising page for a potential challenge of U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Fort Worth). Lewis ran unsuccessfully for Irving council P7 in 2016 (25%) and Dallas Co. Clerk in 2014 (46%).

See our 2018 Challengers page for all 171 challengers and open seat candidates who we confirm have taken a formal step toward running for state and federal office from Texas in 2018.

San Angelo: Early voting begins tomorrow for the D6 council runoff election between Steve Hampton and Billie DeWitt. Charlotte Farmer did not seek re-election and instead ran unsuccessfully for mayor. Election Day is July 8.

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Voter ID Schedule and Other Election News for June 22

Voter ID: U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ordered parties in the ongoing Voter ID suit to file briefs by July 5 discussing “the propriety and nature of relief” entitled by the plaintiffs and reply briefs by July 17. The court will not hold any new hearings on the matter but would “consider the Texas Legislature’s passage of [Senate Bill] 5 to the extent that, on its face, may be relevant to issues regarding remedies.” Senate Bill 5 was adopted to conform the law to judicial rulings requiring the state to provide a means for people to vote who have a reasonable impediment to obtaining one of the required photo identifications. In April, Ramos ruled “a discriminatory purpose was at least one of the substantial or motivating factors behind passage” of the state’s Voter ID law.

Rep. Craig Goldman

Rep. Craig
Goldman

Sen. Kelly Hancock

Sen. Kelly
Hancock

Voter Fraud: In a press release, Gov. Greg Abbott thanked Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) and Rep. Craig Goldman (R-Fort Worth) for their intention to file legislation cracking down on mail-in ballot fraud in the special election that has not yet been formally called. “I prosecuted countless cases of mail-in ballot fraud as Attorney General, but the problem continues to exist today,” Abbott said. “I applaud Rep. Goldman and Sen. Hancock for their commitment to strengthen penalties for those who undermine the integrity of our elections.” Mail-in ballot fraud is one of 20 items Gov. Abbott said would be included in a call for a special session, which he said would begin July 18.

HD11: Rep. Travis Clardy (R-Nacogdoches) announced he would seek re-election.

Subscribers can read the rest of this report.

Younger Hispanic/Latino Population Outpacing Anglos

Hispanics/Latinos are responsible for more than half of the state’s population growth since 2010, according to new population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. As of July 2016, Texas has gained more than three times as many Hispanics/Latinos than Anglos this decade.

Anglos remain the state’s largest ethnic group with an estimated population of 11.9 million, up from 11.4 million in 2010. The state has an estimated 10.9 million Hispanics/Latinos, up from 9.5 million in 2010, and 3.3 million African-Americans, up from 2.9 million in 2010. The state has added nearly as many African-Americans (399K) as Anglos (444K) since 2010.

Asian-Americans represent the fastest-growing major ethnic group in the state. Since 2010, the estimated Asian-American population has increased more than 35%, rising to 1.3M from 960K.

As a share of the population, Anglos have slipped to 43% in 2016 from 46% in 2010.

Harris Co. has gained more Hispanics/Latinos than any other in the U.S., adding nearly 40K since 2010. Ten counties with a population of 50K or more have seen at least a 30% increase in their Hispanic/Latino population since 2010, and Donald Trump won all 10 of those counties in 2016,

Nearly half of the state’s population 19 and younger is Hispanic/Latino, significantly higher than other age groups. Hispanics/Latinos represent 42% of adults aged 20-39, 33% of adults aged 40-64 and 22% of adults 65 and older. Anglos’ share of those population groups shrinks as the cohort gets younger, falling from 64% of adults 65 and over to 33% of residents 19 and younger.

©2017 Texas Election Source LLC

Denton Co. Votes for Paper Ballots

The state’s ninth most populous county will be going back to paper ballots beginning in 2018. The Denton Co. Commissioners Court voted to purchase a new voting tabulation system that produces and scans only paper ballots. The new Hart system will print ballots on demand at each election precinct, and voters will be able to scan their ballots when completed.

The county experienced several problems with its voting machines – almost entirely due to human error – during the November election. Many voting machines were incorrectly set in “test mode,” which meant that ballots would not be stored, forcing the use of paper ballots, which at first could not be scanned. Some of those ballots were accidentally counted twice. Some of the machines that were working contained incorrect memory cards, and some of those cards were mislabeled, adding more confusion to the tabulation efforts. Eventually, all ballots were counted three times to produce the final, canvassed results.

None of the election outcomes changed because of the errors, but vote totals shifted significantly. Rep. Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) ended up with 1,290 more votes in the canvass than on Election night. As a result of the problems, the county’s elections administrator was asked to retire and another two other employees were dismissed.

An investigation by the Secretary of State concluded that understaffing and inexperience led to the mistakes. County officials requested that investigation.

©2017 Texas Election Source LLC

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Partner, HillCo Partners

Texas Election Source is my go-to resource for all election returns. Jeff’s experience in the legislative process and his knowledge of candidates make his analyses invaluable to legislative professionals as well as outside observers.

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Assistant Director of Legislative Services, Texas Municipal League

Election News for June 21

HD46: Austin computer programmer and gay rights activist Michael Hendrix told the Austin American-Statesman’s Marty Toohey that he is considering a primary challenge of Rep. Dawnna Dukes (D-Austin).

HD47: Austin registered nurse and health policy consultant Candace Aylor has filed paperwork establishing a campaign committee for a potential challenge of Rep. Paul Workman (R-Austin) as a Democrat. She is at least the fourth Democrat to take a formal step toward running for the seat, joining Austin real estate agent Vikki Goodwin, Leander business consultant Will Simpson and Austin nonprofit executive Sheri Soltes. Meanwhile, 2016 Democratic nominee Ana Jordan, who received 42% of the vote against Workman, said via Twitter that she is not running “this cycle.”

HD114: Rep. Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) announced he would seek re-election. He had been mentioned as a potential primary challenger to Sen. Don Huffines (R-Dallas), but Villalba’s announcement all but closes the door on that possibility.

See our 2018 Challengers page for all 169 challengers and open seat candidates who we confirm have taken a formal step toward running for state and federal office from Texas in 2018.

©2017 Texas Election Source LLC

Republicans 4-for-4 on Congressional Special Elections

Since Donald Trump became President in January, Democrats have had four shots at taking Republican-held congressional seats in special elections. They have not won any, including losing a pair of races this week in Georgia and South Carolina (Democrats won a fifth special election in a heavily Democratic district in California.).

In at least two of these districts, Democratic candidates made the race a referendum on Trump, and millions of dollars of outside money went toward reinforcing that message. So far, no Republican seat has been lost because of Trump or any other reason.

While Republicans prevailed in these four races, they did so by significantly smaller margins that in the previous three general elections. In all cases, the 2017 special election margins of victory were at least 10 points smaller than in November 2016.

On average, the Democratic candidate took 18 points off of the average Republican candidate’s margin of victory in these four districts. These are, of course, special elections, and their naturally volatile nature makes them generally unreliable predictors of future general elections. Nonetheless, an 18-point swing would be enough to flip numerous legislative and congressional districts in Texas and make dozens of others, including the statewide races, suddenly competitive.

A better gauge on 2018 may be the Virginia Assembly elections later this year. Republicans hold a 66-34 advantage in the lower chamber but just a 21-19 edge in the Senate, suggesting a number of districts for which any significant swing, let alone an 18-point one, would flip seats.

©2017 Texas Election Source LLC

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Abbott Draws Second Primary Challenger and Other News for June 20

GOV: Larry “SECEDE” Kilgore appears to be running for governor again as a Republican. He received just over 1% of the vote in the 2014 Republican primary against Greg Abbott and two others. He also ran for governor in 2006, receiving 8% against then-Gov. Rick Perry and two others. He also ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in the 2008 Republican primary, obtaining 19% of the vote.

Larry SECEDE Kilgore

Larry SECEDE Kilgore

As his name indicates, Kilgore’s top issue is secession. He is the second Republican to declare a primary challenge this month, joining Plano landscaping and construction business owner Danny Harrison. Lone Oak gun rights activist Kory Watkins is seeking the Libertarian Party’s nomination.

SD23: Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) confirmed he would seek re-election.

HD17: Elgin resident and Democratic precinct chair Michelle Ryan established a campaign committee for a potential challenge of Rep. John Cyrier (R-Lockhart).

HD42: Rep. Richard Raymond (D-Laredo) announced he would seek re-election.

CD26: U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Lewisville) announced he would seek re-election.

See our 2018 Challengers page for all 167 challengers and open seat candidates who we confirm have taken a formal step toward running for state and federal office from Texas in 2018.

Corpus Christi: The city council appointed public relations firm owner Debbie Lindsey-Opel to fill the unexpired term of Joe McComb, who vacated his at-large position when he was elected mayor. She was chosen from four finalists interviewed by the council. Nineteen people applied for the position.

©2017 Texas Election Source LLC

(Re-)Election News for June 19

LAND: Land Comm. George P. Bush announced he would seek re-election. He has at least one primary opponent in Alvord surveyor Davey Edwards, who announced in February. Edwards filed his campaign treasurer appointment prior to the 2014 general election and has raised about $7K as of the end of 2016.

HD29: Rep. Ed Thompson (R-Pearland) announced he would seek re-election.

HD65: Rep. Ron Simmons (R-Carrollton) announced he would seek re-election.

HD128: Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park) announced he would seek re-election. He has at least one primary opponent in Baytown council member Terry Sain.

HD132: Rep. Mike Schofield (R-Katy) announced he would seek re-election.

See our 2018 Challengers page for all 165 challengers and open seat candidates who we confirm have taken a formal step toward running for state and federal office from Texas in 2018.

El Paso: The D8 special runoff election between Robert Cormell (42%) and Cissy Lizarraga (25%) will be July 15. Early voting will occur between June 28 and July 11. Former Rep. Dee Margo (R-El Paso) will be sworn in as mayor on June 27.

©2017 Texas Election Source LLC

SCOTUS to Hear Partisan Gerrymandering Case

The U.S. Supreme Court announced it will hear oral arguments in a Wisconsin case (Gill v. Whitford) on partisan gerrymandering, a highly watched case that could significantly alter the way congressional and legislative districts are drawn.

In November, a three-judge federal panel struck down the state Assembly’s districts after finding the maps were “intended to burden the representational rights of Democratic voters … by impeding their ability to translate their votes into legislative seats.” The court ruled that the “discriminatory effect is not explained by the political geography of Wisconsin” and thus “constitutes an unconstitutional political gerrymander.” The ruling does not touch on Senate districts, but they will be changed because each is comprised by three Assembly districts.

According to the Brennan Center, this marked the first time a federal court has ruled in favor of plaintiffs asserting a partisan gerrymandering argument in more than 30 years. The issue most recently came before the Supreme Court about 15 years ago, but the Justices failed to define a standard for passing constitutional muster.

SCOTUS also stayed the lower court’s judgment on a 5-4 vote with Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan and Sotomayor voting to deny the stay. The stay effectively blocks a requirement that the state redraw its districts by November 1, greatly increasing the odds that the current maps will stay in place for the 2018 elections.

Republicans hold 64 of the 99 seats in the Assembly and 20 of the 33 seats in the state senate. Yet, Democratic candidates collectively received more votes statewide than Republicans. Plaintiffs argued that many of these votes were “wasted” in non-competitive, heavily Democratic districts.

The case could have significant impacts in Texas, where 40 of the 150 House districts saw straight-party advantages in excess of 20K votes in the 2016 general election.

©2017 Texas Election Source LLC

Straight-party Vote Analysis for SD10

What a difference a single envelope can make.

On January 23, 2013, Texas state senators chose envelopes, one-by-one, that determined their fate for a decade. Inside those envelopes were slips of paper numbered one through 31. An odd number gave senators a four-year term, meaning their next two re-election bids would share a ballot with the office of President of the United States.

After beating an incumbent and winning re-election in consecutive presidential election years, Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) drew an envelope containing an even number. SD10 would now be on the ballot in gubernatorial election cycles.

Nothing else about the district had changed. In fact, SD10 survived the 2011 redistricting process intact, a rarity for legislative districts, and Davis had once again won it. However, the shift from one election cycle to another altered the makeup of the district’s electorate in significant ways, transforming a true swing district into one that leans Republican, without redrawing a single boundary.

Davis did not seek re-election and instead waged a spirited but ultimately unsuccessful campaign for governor.

Sen. Konni Burton

Sen. Konni
Burton

Sen. Konni Burton (R-Colleyville) finished first out of a five-person primary field, then defeated former Rep. Mark Shelton (R-Fort Worth) in a runoff, 60%-40%. She won the general election over Libby Willis, 53%-45%, to succeed Davis. Burton is expected to run for re-election, and there are already at least two Democratic challengers on the campaign trail: Euless biomedical researcher Allison Campolo and Burleson ISD trustee Beverly Powell.

SD10 lies completely within Tarrant Co., one of the state’s most reliably Republican urban counties. However, it contains large swaths of strongly Democratic precincts within Fort Worth, and their presence makes it the closest to a toss-up district in the state … in the right election year.

We analyzed single-punch, straight-party voting data from the precincts currently comprising SD10 back to 1998 to quantify the shifts in the electorate over time and between election cycles. The chart below shows the number of straight-party Republican and Democratic votes cast in SD10’s current precincts from 1998 to 2016.

Republican candidates running in the precincts currently in SD10 have enjoyed an advantage in straight-party voting dating back to at least 1998 and probably further (Our analysis only looks back to 1998.). Those advantages have ranged from less than 1K in 2008 to more than 27K in 2004.

Since 1998, straight-party voters have represented at least 57% of all votes cast except for 2006, when two well-known independent candidates for governor cut into straight-party voting in SD10 and across the state. Since 2008, about 65% of all ballots cast in SD10 have come from straight-party Republican and straight-party Democratic voters.

In general, straight-party Democratic voting has been rising across the district’s precincts, at least in presidential years. Since 2004, Democratic straight-party vote totals have increased by about 24K in presidential years but have only increased slightly compared to 2002 in gubernatorial years. Republican straight-party voting levels have been largely flat, hovering at just over 100K in presidential years and around 67K in gubernatorial years (excluding 2006) over the same period.

The seesaw nature of turnout alternating between presidential and gubernatorial election cycles is evident in the chart. This is not a unique feature of SD10. Statewide, the number of votes cast in the 2010 general election was 38% below 2008, and 41% fewer people voted for governor in 2014 than for president in 2012.

The wobbling gap between the two parties’ single-punch voters, particularly in the last five election cycles, is clearly shown in the chart. Republican candidates’ advantages in 2010 (19,343) and 2014 (13,406) are two of the three largest in the timeframe of this analysis. Those Republican advantages correspond to 11% and 7% of all votes cast, respectively.

The gap between the parties in 2014 was slightly larger than in 2012, but there were 37% fewer voters in 2014 than in 2012. Davis needed 56% of the vote from people going through the entire ballot to overcome the straight-party gap in 2012. She got 60% head-to-head versus Shelton, who was the 2012 Republican nominee, and prevailed.

Two years later, Willis needed at least 62% of the full-ballot vote to overcome the Republicans’ straight-party advantage in the district. She received 49%. Had Davis sought re-election, she would have needed to surpass her prior two performances among full-ballot voters in order to overcome that Republican advantage. In the gubernatorial race, she received just over 50% of the full-ballot vote head-to-head against Greg Abbott but lost the district by 13K votes.

Two more years later, in 2016, the straight-party vote gap was less than 5K, the second-smallest gap observed over the timeframe of this analysis. We estimate Davis would have had a good chance of winning re-election that year, had her envelope held an odd number instead of an even one, based on her performances in 2008 and 2012 among full-ballot voters. Davis, or any other Democratic candidate, would have needed just 52% of the full-ballot vote to defeat a Republican in a hypothetical 2016 race for SD10.

Of course, there was no race for SD10 in 2016. It’s in 2018.

For a Democrat to unseat Burton, two intertwined historical trends must be bucked. First, the gap in straight-party voting must be reduced to a level that makes the seat as competitive in a gubernatorial year as it is in a presidential year. Second, turnout in Democratic precincts must come closer to turnout in Republican precincts.

In each of the last four election cycles, turnout was 10-12 percentage points lower in precincts won by a Democrat than precincts won by a Republican. In 2008, 60% of registered voters cast ballots in precincts won by Davis compared to 72% in precincts won by Brimer. Two years later, both sets of precincts experienced an identical 28 percentage point drop in turnout. In 2012, 59% of registered voters cast ballots in precincts won by Davis compared to 69% in precincts won by Shelton. Both sets of precincts experienced an identical 25 percentage point drop in turnout.

This turnout gap directly affects the straight-party voting gap. In 2010, the Democrats’ advantage in straight-ticket voting in precincts won by Davis fell by more than half compared to 2008. The corresponding decline in the Republican advantage in precincts won by Brimer was just 10%. The Democratic decline from 2012 to 2014 was smaller (just 47%) and the Republican decline was bigger (34%), but the net result was a bigger Republican advantage overall out of a smaller pool of voters.

The table below shows the estimated straight-party vote advantage in 2018 under a variety of scenarios of changes in turnout – all declines – from the 2016 totals based on the declines seen for the last four gubernatorial election cycles.

Scenarios are based upon the highest, average and lowest declines in the last four gubernatorial elections relative to the preceding presidential election, and the midpoints between those values, for each party. For example, if the decline in Republican straight-party voting would be midway between the average and the lowest decline of the last four gubernatorial elections, and the Democratic decline would be midway between the average and the highest for those elections, then the resulting 2018 Republican advantage would be 15,745 votes. If both parties saw an average decline in turnout from 2016, then the resulting 2018 Republican advantage would be 6,146 votes.

SD10 may be the closest to a swing seat on the state senate map, but it is still a Republican friendly district, particularly in gubernatorial election years. A Republican won it in 2002 and 2014, the only two gubernatorial election years during which it was on the ballot within the scope of this analysis. We project that Republicans would have won this seat in every gubernatorial election year since 1998.

A significant change in straight-party voting and turnout trends would be necessary to alter the district’s partisan trajectory … at least until the next time senators draw envelopes.

©2017 Texas Election Source LLC

Methodology

Because of redistricting and shifts in precinct boundaries over time, normally we can only estimate straight-ticket voting prior to the last time the district was drawn (2011). However, SD10 is virtually identical to the way it was drawn in 2001. We estimated straight-ticket vote totals by applying the current district boundaries backward in time to the precincts as they existed in each general election. The farther back we go, the more estimating is required. We use mapping software to identify which voting precincts were located entirely or partially in the current boundaries of SD10 in each even-year general election. We used precinct-level results from each general election to calculate the straight-party vote for each year. For each election prior to 2002, we allocated 100%, 75%, 50% or 25% of the votes cast in those precincts to today’s districts based on the approximate geographic area of the precinct within the district. We totaled the resulting precinct- and split precinct-level data to estimate district-wide straight-ticket votes. For general elections since 2002, we were able to use the current voting precincts within the current districts without the need to allocate votes across split precincts. We thank the Texas Legislative Council for providing the geographic information system (GIS) data necessary to conduct this analysis. We obtained precinct-level election results data from Tarrant Co. election officials.

Cain, Meyer, Workman and Others Draw New Challengers

See our 2018 Challengers page for all 164 challengers and open seat candidates who we confirm have taken a formal step toward running for state and federal office from Texas in 2018.

GOV: Plano landscape and construction business owner Danny Harrison announced via Facebook his primary challenge of Gov. Greg Abbott (R). We reported last month that he filed a campaign treasurer appointment for the race, but his political affiliation was unclear.

RRC: Denton architect and historic preservation officer Roman McAllen filed paperwork establishing a campaign committee for a potential challenge of Comm. Christi Craddick (R) as a Democrat. [CTA filed, Facebook page] In April, McAllen established a federal campaign committee for a potential challenge of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R). He previously announced he would run against U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R) in 2014 but did not ultimately enter the race.

SD31: Former Midland Mayor Mike Canon has updated his campaign committee for a primary rematch against Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo). Canon lost the 2014 Republican primary to Seliger, 53%-47%. Last month, we reported he announced for the seat.

HD47: Leander business consultant Will Simpson filed paperwork establishing a campaign committee and set up an ActBlue page for a potential challenge of Rep. Paul Workman (R-Austin) as a Democrat.

HD65: Carrollton pet store owner Michelle Beckley filed paperwork establishing a campaign committee for a potential challenge of Rep. Ron Simmons (R-Carrollton) as a Democrat. We previously reported that she created an ActBlue page for the race.

HD108: Dallas university adjunct professor and Latina activist Joanna Cattanach filed paperwork establishing a campaign committee for a potential challenge of Rep. Morgan Meyer (R-Dallas) as a Democrat.

Terry Sain

Terry
Sain

Rep. Briscoe Cain

Rep. Briscoe
Cain

HD128: Baytown environmental engineer and council member Terry Sain has filed a campaign treasurer appointment for a potential challenge of Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park). Sain was first elected to the council in 2008. In 2016, he endorsed former Rep. Wayne Smith (R-Baytown), who Cain ousted by 23 votes in that year’s runoff election.

HD134: Houston oil and gas safety executive Allison Sawyer filed paperwork establishing a campaign committee for a potential challenge of Rep. Sarah Davis (R-Houston) as a Democrat.

SEN: Pasadena business owner and self-described “Berniecrat” Sema Hernandez has established a federal campaign committee for a potential challenge of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R) as a Democrat.

CD3: Plano resident Samuel H. Johnson has established a federal campaign committee for a potential run for the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Plano) as a Democrat. The men are not related as far as we can tell.

CD17: Pflugerville behavioral scientist Dale Mantey filed paperwork establishing a campaign committee for a potential challenge of Flores as a Democrat. Mantey was a health policy analyst for former Rep. Mike Villarreal (D-San Antonio) during the 2013 legislative session. Also, New Braunfels paramedic Scott Sturm updated his federal campaign committee for a potential challenge of U.S. Rep. Bill Flores (R-Bryan) as a Democrat. We previously reported he filed paperwork for a run in CD21 and later set up a CrowdPAC page for the CD17 race.

CD24: Hurst resident (Edward Charles) Todd Allen (D) formed a campaign committee for a potential challenge of U.S. Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Carrollton) as a Democrat.

©2017 Texas Election Source

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Jeff Blaylock

Jeff Blaylock

Publisher

Jeff is a political junkie, longtime public policy wonk and former Texas Legislature staffer who has worked political campaigns in Texas and several other states, ranging from school boards to legislators to governors to referenda. He is a public and government affairs consultant based in Austin, Texas, who offers his keen insights about Lone Star State politics as Texas Election Source.

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