Candidate Lists Finalized. Parties have certified their candidate lists with the Secretary of State, and our Crib Sheets now reflect these finalized lists. We have not seen a final list of candidates intending to appear on the general election ballot as an independent. The table below lists incumbents facing at least one Democrat or one Republican. The table excludes minor-party and independent challengers (See the next table for those.).
Overall, more 28% incumbents face primary challengers this year than in 2014. One more statewide Republican faces a primary challenge than in 2014. Recall that most statewide races last cycle were open seats. No Senate Republicans seeking re-election face a primary challenger this year after four did in 2014 (Two lost.). Only one Senate Democrat faced a primary challenger last cycle, while three do in 2016. Ten more Republican House members and two more Democrats face primary challengers than in 2014. Three more Congressional Republicans and three more Democrats face primary challenger than in 2014.
Slightly more incumbents face general election challengers than in 2014, and almost all of that increase is comprised of Republicans challenging Democratic incumbents. In 2014, there were 19 Democratic incumbents facing general election challenges from Republicans. There are 24 this year.
The table below lists incumbents without major party challengers. Twenty-two fewer incumbents face a Libertarian candidate this cycle, but 15 more incumbents face a Green Party challenger. In 2014, 23 incumbent Republicans and 24 incumbent Democrats faced no opposition. As far as we can tell (and awaiting final the final lists of independents and declared write-in candidates), 31 incumbent Republicans and 23 incumbent Democrats are unopposed.
Twenty-four incumbents did not file for re-election. Six – Reps. Allen Fletcher, Bryan Hughes, Susan King, Trey Martinez Fischer, David Simpson and Sylvester Turner – are seeking or have won another office. The rest retired. There were 27 incumbents who did not file for re-election in 2014. Six off the 14 who sought another office prevailed. The table below shows the open seats going into the March 1 primary.
Thirteen incumbents were defeated in primaries or primary runoffs in 2014 (11 Republicans and two Democrats).
RRC Open: Former Rep. Wayne Christian (R-Center) announced he was suspending his campaign because of a family medical issue. His name would remain on the ballot even if he withdrew, because the deadline to do so has already passed.
CD15: The state Democratic Party has changed the name of one of the seven candidate on the primary ballot by removing the “Hinojosa” from Ruben Ramirez’s name. The party considered “Hinojosa” – his mother’s surname – to be a nickname because the candidate did not provide a signed, sworn affidavit that he is commonly known as Ramirez Hinojosa. Section 52.031, Election Code, provides that a “nickname of one unhyphenated word of not more than 10 letters by which the candidate has been commonly known for at least three years may be used in combination with the candidate’s name.” The candidate countered that Latinos frequently use both their father and mother’s last names even when their legal names do not reflect this usage.
One of the people who challenged Ramirez’s use of “Hinojosa” was U.S. Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, who was concerned the use of the nickname could confuse voters. U.S. Rep. Hinojosa suggested the party apply the name Ruben Ramon Ramirez, which the candidate used in his unsuccessful 2012 primary challenge (Ramirez received 5%). Ramirez’s campaign has since unveiled a new logo featuring the word “Hinojosa” crossed out.
By the Numbers
Number of incumbent House members seeking re-election in 2016 that have not faced a primary challenger in at least five consecutive elections (including 2016):
- 1990 or earlier – Reps. Tom Craddick (R-Midland) and John Smithee (R-Amarillo) (Our data only goes back as far as 1992.)
- 1994 – Rep. Yvonne Davis (D-Dallas)
- 1998 – Reps. Geanie Morrison (R-Victoria) and Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston)
- 2000 – Reps. Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton), Gary Elkins (R-Houston)
- 2002 – Reps. Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City), Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin)
- 2004 – Reps. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) and Abel Herrero (D-Corpus Christi)
- 2005 – Rep. Ana Hernandez (D-Houston) hasn’t faced a primary opponent since her special election win
- 2006 – Reps. Donna Howard (D-Austin), Eddie Lucio III (D-Brownsville), Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound), Larry Phillips (R-Sherman), Richard Raymond (D-Laredo) and John Zerwas (R-Houston)
Retiring Rep. Elliott Naishtat (D-Austin) and Rep. Sylvester Turner (D-Houston), who was recently elected mayor of Houston, left the Legislature having faced no primary challengers since at least 1990. In SD26, Sen. Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio) and Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio) became each other’s first primary challengers since 2002 and 2000, respectively.