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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

Semiannual Reports Give First Glimpse of Primary Competitiveness

Redistricting: The U.S. Supreme Court will not consider the Texas Democratic Party’s partisan gerrymandering case for “want of jurisdiction.” The claim was separate from two Texas racial gerrymandering cases the high court has already agreed to hear this spring.

The filing period for local offices on the May 5 uniform election ballot begins tomorrow and runs until February 16. Sixty of the state’s 100 most populous cities have at least one office up for election.

January semiannual reports, covering contributions received and expenditures made during the last six months of 2017, were due today for state officeholders and candidates (and local candidates, where required). Most will not become available until sometime tomorrow, but we have some results to report for key races. We will be pouring over these reports and updating our Crib Sheets over the next few days.

Subscribers can read the rest of this report, which includes news about LTGOV, AG, LAND, SD17, HD6, HD9, HD11, HD15, HD55, HD60, HD87, HD88, HD106 and HD115.

©2018 Texas Election Source LLC

Endorsement and Election News for January 15

The filing period for local offices on the May 5 uniform election ballot begins Wednesday and runs until February 16. Sixty of the state’s 100 most populous cities have at least one office up for election. See our list here.

Campaign Finance

Semiannual campaign finance reports are due for state officeholders and candidates (and local candidates where required) tomorrow. January semiannual reports cover contributions received and expenditures made between July 1 (or the date the campaign account was established) and December 31. These reports typically become available online by Wednesday, and we will begin analyzing them for key primary races and updating our Crib Sheets at that time. Because of the large volume of candidates, we expect it will take us a few days to complete our Crib Sheet updates.

GOV: Houston entrepreneur Andrew White’s campaign announced he raised $219K during the last few weeks of December from more than 200 donors.

Former Dallas Co. Sheriff Lupe Valdez reported $46K in contributions between December 6 and the end of the year and has $40K on hand. Valdez’s cash-on-hand figure is more than 1,000 times less than Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will report having on hand.

Subscribers can read the rest of this report.

©2018 Texas Election Source LLC

Frequent Updates & Analyses

Our subscribers have access to our complete reports and analyses, including our archives, that cover the gamut from breaking campaign news to thoughtful exploration of the deeper trends in Texas. Links to our latest reports and updates are emailed straight to our subscribers’ inboxes.

Updated Candidate Lists & Campaign Finances

Our subscribers have access to our Crib Sheets: complete, up-to-date and accurate lists of candidates running for Congress, statewide office and the Legislature and more. See their latest campaign finance figures, past election results and other helpful information.

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Real-time Election Returns & Analysis

On Election Nights, our subscribers receive relevant results fast, often before they appear on publicly available outlets, and get our analysis of trends and their implications while votes are still being counted. Know who’s winning before everyone else!

By the Numbers: Legislators to Washington

46%

Success rate of incumbent Texas legislators running for Congress since 2000.

Two incumbent Texas senators and three state representatives are seeking a seat in the U.S. Congress in 2018. Since 2000, six of the 13 incumbent legislators running for Congress have won their races. Four of those six won their races in 2012, when three claimed open seats and a fourth defeated a Republican incumbent in the general election.

Subscribers can read the rest of this report.

©2018 Texas Election Source LLC

Election News for January 12

LTGOV: Democratic challenger Mike Collier’s campaign announced he raised around $500K during the last half of 2017 and will report around $143K on hand. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) has not yet released fundraising totals. He raised nearly $4M during the last 12 days of June and reported a war chest of more than $16M as of June 30.

SD8 open: The Phillip Huffines campaign announced he raised nearly $1.1M during the second half of 2017. He faces Angela Paxton for the Republican nomination to succeed Sen. Van Taylor (R-Plano), who is running for CD3.

HD80: The Texas Supreme Court denied former Webb County Judge Danny Valdez’s petition to be placed on the Democratic primary ballot.

Subscribers can read the rest of this report.

©2018 Texas Election Source LLC

SCOTUS to Hear Texas Redistricting Cases

This post has been updated since we issued our Breaking News alert.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a pair of Texas redistricting cases during its current spring term.

The state appealed lower court rulings invalidating two congressional and nine state House districts. A federal panel ruled that the Legislature in 2011 drew them intentionally to discriminate against minority voters. Defects from those 2011 maps persisted into maps drawn by the court and ultimately adopted, with minor modification, by the Legislature in 2013. Those rulings were stayed by the high court in September, and those stays remain in effect until the high court rules.

“We are eager for the chance to present our case before the U.S. Supreme Court, which ordered the district court in San Antonio to draw lawful congressional and House maps,” said Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton in a statement. “The lower court’s decisions to invalidate parts of the maps it drew and adopted are inexplicable and indefensible.”

A separate appeal by the Texas Democratic Party was not addressed by the high court. The Democratic Party sought to have the maps tossed on partisan gerrymandering grounds. Nonetheless, party chair Gilberto Hinojosa welcomed the development. “We will again be before the Supreme Court to examine Texas Republicans’ stacking of the deck through systematic discrimination against people of color,” he said in a statement.

Given the anticipated timetable for this case’s disposition, it is highly likely that the current maps will be used for this year’s election.

©2018 Texas Election Source LLC

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Election News for January 11

AG: Democratic challenger Justin Nelson’s campaign announced he raised $911K during the last six months of 2017, of which $500K came from the candidate himself. Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton (R) has not reported his fundraising totals for the second half of 2017. As of June 30, he had $5.2M on hand after raising just over $1M in the last 12 days of June.

SD2: The Texas Assoc. of Realtors TREPAC endorsed Rep. Cindy Burkett (R-Sunnyvale), a Realtor, in her primary challenge against Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood).

SD30: Young Conservatives of Texas endorsed Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Frisco) over Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls).

Subscribers can read the rest of this report.

©2018 Texas Election Source LLC

By the Numbers: Partisan Competition for County Office

131

Number of counties, out of 254, in which only one party fielded candidates for every county-level office up for election in 2018

While droves of candidates running for state and federal office has led to the highest percentage of contested seats in decades, the level of partisan competition at the county level remains low. Of the 2,613 county offices on the ballot in 2018, a Democrat and a Republican will face off for just 364 (14%) of them, a slight increase from 11% in 2016.

The most competitive, at least in terms of the parties running against each other, counties are Harris (80%), Caldwell (77%), Bexar (74%) and Williamson (71%). At least half of the county offices on the ballot are being contested by both parties in just 12 counties. There are no Democrats running for county office in 105 counties, and no Republicans are running in 14 counties. In 12 counties, candidates from both parties are running, but not against each other. In another 43 counties, just one Democrat is seeking county-office, and a lone Republican is running in six counties.

Partisan Competition for County Offices in 2018

In 188 counties (74%), no countywide office on the general election ballot will be contested by both a Democrat and a Republican. Offices up this year include county judge, county clerk, district clerk and county treasurer. The county judge race is contested by both parties in just 47 counties (19%).

Overall, at least one Republican is running for 82% of county offices on the 2018 ballot, while at least one Democrat is running for only 32%. Nearly 2K more Republicans are running for county offices than Democrats.

The low level of partisan competition down the ballot is partially attributable to high levels of straight-party voting, which has also been responsible for alternating partisan sweeps of countywide judicial offices in Harris Co. and elsewhere. A new law ends the single-punch, straight-party voting option, but it does not take effect until 2020.

Analysis: North Carolina’s Partisan Gerrymandering Ruling

A three-judge federal panel unanimously ruled that North Carolina’s most recent redistricting plan constituted an invidious* partisan gerrymander that violated the First Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Election Clause (Art. I., Secs. 2 and 4) of the U.S. Constitution. It is the first time that a federal court has invalidated congressional districts purely on the basis of a partisan gerrymander.

“Partisan gerrymandering runs contrary to numerous fundamental democratic principles and individual rights enshrined in the Constitution,” wrote Circuit Judge James Wynn, a Barack Obama appointee, for the panel. “A partisan gerrymander that is intended to and likely has the effect of entrenching a political party in power undermines the ability of voters to effect change when they see legislative action as infringing on their rights.”

The state is expected to seek a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court, before which a similar case from Wisconsin is pending. Another partisan gerrymandering case from Maryland will be heard later this spring. (The justices will also consider hearing cases from Texas involving two of its congressional and nine of its state House districts, but neither case claims partisan gerrymandering.). The impact this ruling could have on Texas is far from certain, because of the lack of firm standards for identifying when a map has gone too far and the particularly great lengths the North Carolina General Assembly went to ensure maximum Republican representation.

“Legislative Defendants do not dispute that the General Assembly intended for the 2016 Plan to favor supporters of Republican candidates and disfavor supporters of non-Republican candidates,” Wynn wrote. “Nor could they.”

North Carolina’s congressional map is considered by several redistricting experts as one of the most extreme examples of partisan gerrymandering in the country. Statistical analyses conducted by expert witnesses in this case placed it at or near the top of all redistricting plans in all states since 1972 for its partisan skew. It is the state’s second congressional map used this decade. Both were constructed to yield similar results.

Subscribers can read the rest of this analysis.

©2018 Texas Election Source LLC

GOV: Abbott Announces Record $43M War Chest

The campaign of Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced he raised more than $9M during the second half of 2017 and will report having $43.3M on hand, the biggest war chest ever reported by a Texas candidate for a state race, breaking his own record set in July. He has $16.3M more on hand now than he at this time in his 2014 campaign. It’s $31.7M more than former Gov. Rick Perry had on hand at this time in his 2010 campaign when then-U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison was his primary opponent.

Gov. Greg Abbott

Gov. Greg
Abbott

We won’t know until February, but it’s likely that Abbott’s $43.3M cash on hand figure will exceed the combined cash on hand of every member of the Texas congressional delegation, again.

Abbott has raised more than $141M since 1995, a lifetime total that surpasses Perry’s and makes Abbott the most prolific fundraiser in state political history. He has raised nearly $84M during the last four years, a total that exceeds Perry’s last two terms combined. He has raised more than $52M since being elected governor, putting him on pace to shatter the record for most contributions reported by a gubernatorial candidate during a four-year cycle (The largely self-funded Tony Sanchez reported $62.4M in contributions in 2002.).

Abbott raised $19.1M during 2017, the most ever raised by a Texas officeholder or candidate during a non-election year, breaking his own record of $17.7M set in 2016. The most Perry ever raised in a non-election year was $11.4M in 2009. Abbott’s $52M in contributions raised since January 2015 is nearly double the amount he raised during the corresponding period before his 2014 gubernatorial race. He is just over $6M away from exceeding the total he raised from 2011 to 2014. He has already raised more than former Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) raised* during the four years leading up to and including her unsuccessful 2014 gubernatorial bid, and he has exceeded the amount raised by Perry from 2007 to 2010, his last campaign for governor.

In calendar year 2014, Abbott raised $31.2M. If he were to match that total in 2018, then he will have raised more during his first term as governor than Perry raised during his last two terms combined, and he will have raised more in the last five years than Perry raised during his last three terms combined.

According to the campaign, Abbott received at least one contribution from each of the state’s 254 counties, and “53% of donations came from first-time donors.” About 93% of his contributions from individuals came from Texas donors, according to his campaign’s press release.

* We include contributions made to her campaign/officeholder account and her specific-purpose committee, Wendy R. Davis for Governor, Inc. We exclude amounts reported by two other PACs – Battleground Texas and Texas Victory Committee – consistent with our practice of looking only at funds contributed directly to or directly benefitting a candidate. The complicated structure of her campaign’s fundraising efforts made it difficult to calculate exactly how much Davis raised.

Election News for January 10

LTGOV: Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC endorsed Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R).

HD62 open: Denison Mayor Jared Johnson and former Grayson County Judge Drue Bynum endorsed Reggie Smith to succeed the retiring Rep. Larry Phillips (R-Sherman)

CD23: The campaign of Democratic challenger Gina Ortiz Jones announced she raised $208K during the fourth quarter of 2017. That figure is more than double the amount she raised for the previous quarter. Ortiz Jones is one five Democrats running to challenge U.S. Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio).

Tarrant Co.: Incumbent Justice of the Peace Russ Casey (R) has withdrawn from his re-election bid in the wake of accusations he forged signatures on his petition. The deadline to withdraw has passed, but Tarrant Co. party chair Chris O’Hare may be able to remove his name from the ballot because of the forgery complaint filed by one of his opponents. Casey is expected to drop a lawsuit accusing his challengers of submitting inadequate numbers of signatures on their petitions. By law, justice of the peace is considered a judicial office, and a candidate for the office in Tarrant Co. must submit a petition containing 250 valid signatures along with their filing fee.

Webb Co.: A candidate for district clerk has withdrawn from the Democratic primary after the validity of as many of 250 of the 560 signatures on her petition for candidacy was questioned. Jackie Leven Ramos, a Laredo Community College board member, submitted a petition with signatures in lieu of a filing fee. Incumbent Esther Degollado (D) is now unopposed for re-election.

Cedar Park: Mayor Matt Powell announced he would not seek re-election during the annual “state of the city” address. Powell has served since his 2012 election, winning re-election twice.

©2018 Texas Election Source LLC

Redistricting Update and Other Election News for January 9

Redistricting: The U.S. Supreme Court will once again consider the state’s redistricting case at its conference on Friday. Meanwhile, a three-judge federal panel ruled that Tennessee’s congressional map is an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander and ordered new maps be drawn for the 2018 election. The North Carolina General Assembly has 20 days to produce new maps. The current plan – itself a remedial plan after the previous plan was ruled an unconstitutional racial gerrymander – produced seats held by 10 Republicans and three Democrats. Keep in mind that a Wisconsin partisan gerrymandering case is still pending at the U.S. Supreme Court. We’ll have more on the North Carolina case later this week.

GOV: Democratic candidate Demetria Smith has been declared ineligible after her filing fee check bounced. With the filing deadline long passed, Smith has no way to correct the problem. Smith participated in the Tom Green Co. Democratic Party’s candidate forum yesterday in San Angelo. Nine Democrats remain in the race to challenge Gov. Greg Abbott (R).

LTGOV: Republican challenger Scott Milder challenged Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) to a series of public forums, and Patrick’s camp rejected the idea as the “unmistakable gasps of an attention-starved candidate.”

HD23: Gov. Greg Abbott endorsed challenger Mayes Middleton over Rep. Wayne Faircloth (R-Dickinson).

Subscribers can read the rest of this report, which includes news about HD88, HD117, CD7, CD21, CD23, CD29, CD32 and Tarrant Co.

©2018 Texas Election Source LLC

By the Numbers: Filed Candidates

887

Number of Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Greens and independents who filed for offices we track – Texas statewide, legislative, State Board of Education and federal seats – for 2018, by far the highest number in at least 26 years.

The number of candidates seeking the offices we track increased 37% from two years ago, buoyed by reactions to the Trump presidency, seven congressional delegation retirements and record numbers of women and LGBTQ candidates:

  • More than 180 women running for statewide, legislative and congressional offices
  • Likely more than 120 people under the age of 35 are running for legislative and congressional offices, at least 96 of which are Democrats
  • At least 100 African-Americans running for offices we track; and
  • At least 25 openly LGBTQ candidates running for statewide, legislative and congressional offices, “roughly three times as many as in any previous election cycle in the state’s history,” according to OutSmart.

Twice as many Democrats (362) are running for offices we track this year than four years ago (181). The 344 Republicans running is slightly greater than four years ago (312) but short of the all-time high of 401 set in 2012. The number of Libertarian candidates (109) is just a bit higher than in 2014 (103), but the Green Party’s loss of automatic access caused its candidate number to plunge from 35 four years ago to just four this year. What is likely a record number of independents (68) filed declarations of intent, but history suggests most will not ultimately qualify for the ballot.

Subscribers can read the rest of this data-filled report and explore three interactive charts about historical candidate numbers.

©2018 Texas Election Source LLC

Subscribers have complete access to earlier posts and all archives.

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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