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Examples of Our News Reports & Analyses

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Texas Election Source provides frequent, insightful updates to our subscribers about the state of elections in Texas. Here are four examples of stories we’ve posted, ranging from news briefs to a deep dive on the voting trends of a Dallas Co. House district to some historical perspective on statewide officials’ fundraising to a possible preview of the dominoes that may fall when a coveted seat opens for the first time in a generation.

Election News for January 24

Jan. 24, 2017 | Campaign News

HD46: The Central Texas Democratic Forum held a candidates’ forum today (Tuesday) attended by four Democrats actively seeking the seat. Former Austin council member Sheryl Cole, software engineer Greg Harrington, tech executive Nnamdi Orakwue and attorney Chito Vela took turns answering questions before two to three dozen attendees.

Rep. Dawnna Dukes (D-Austin) tweeted that the forum was “interesting news” and she was unaware that it was going to take place. “Quite odd during session to hold forum,” she tweeted in reply to the Texas Tribune’s Alexandra Samuels, who was covering the forum. Samuels tweeted that an event organizer extended invitations to Dukes to multiple email addresses.

Dukes was indicted last week by a Travis Co. grand jury on two misdemeanor counts of abuse of office and 13 felony counts of tampering with governmental records. She has indicated she would plead not guilty. Dukes previously announced plans to resign when the legislative session began but now intends to serve the term to which she was elected in November.

SBOE: Gov. Greg Abbott re-appointed Donna Bahorich (R-Houston) chair of the State Board of Education, subject to Senate confirmation. First elected to the board in 2012, she was re-elected to a four-year term in November with 54% of the vote.

Corpus Christi: The city council formally accepted the resignation of Mayor Dan McQueen. The council did not set a date for a special election to fill his unexpired term. Mayor Pro Tem Carolyn Vaughn is serving as mayor for now. Former Mayor Nelda Martinez is expected to seek her former job when the special election is announced, facing several current and former council members.

San Antonio: Perennial candidate Rhett Smith became the sixth candidate to file against incumbent Mayor Ivy Taylor. The retired private security professional has run unsuccessfully for several offices since 2004, including five races for mayor:

  • CD35 in 2016 as a Libertarian, earning 3% of the vote in the general election
  • Mayor of San Antonio in 2015 (<1%)
  • Bexar Co. Judge in 2014 as a Libertarian (2%)
  • Mayor of San Antonio in 2013 (13%)
  • CD14 in 2012 as a Green (<1%)
  • San Antonio River Authority board in 2011 (7%)
  • Mayor of San Antonio in 2009 (<1%)
  • S. Senator in 2008, receiving 10% in the Democrat primary
  • Mayor of San Antonio in 2007 (1%)
  • Governor in 2006, receiving 5% in the Republican primary
  • Mayor of San Antonio in 2005 (<1%); and
  • CD21 in 2004 as a Democrat (36% in general, unopposed in primary).

He joins contractor Antonio Diaz, council member Ron Nirenberg, consultant Gerard Ponce, paramedic Keven Roles and clinical psychologist John Velasquez. Ponce also ran in 2015, garnering 97 votes.

Former Bexar Co. Democratic Party Chair Manuel Medina has announced his candidacy but not yet filed.

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Straight-ticket Voting Trends in HD114

Jul 27, 2016 | House Race Analyses, Straight-ticket Voting

We continue our exploration of straight-ticket voting trends in competitive or potentially competitive districts by looking at HD114. Most of the district lies in north Dallas between I-635 and Loop 12, including the North Dallas, Preston Hollow and Vickery Meadow neighborhoods and portions of the Lake Highlands and Northwest Dallas neighborhoods.

Rep. Jason Villalba

Rep. Jason
Villalba

Jim Burke

Jim
Burke

As it is drawn today, HD114 remains a friendly place for Republican candidates. Democrats were making progress eroding the Republicans’ advantage, but that forward movement stalled after the 2008 general election.

Rep. Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) is seeking his third term. He is opposed by Jim Burke*, the information technology chair of the Dallas Co. Democratic Party, and Libertarian Anthony Holan. Neither of his opponents has reported any contributions, and they have no cash on hand.

Republican candidates had a 6,000-vote advantage in straight-ticket voting in HD114’s precincts, an increase of more than 1,800 votes over 2008.

Estimates of the number of straight-ticket and full-ballot votes cast in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 presidential elections and the actual number of those votes in the 2012 presidential election in the precincts currently comprising HD114 are shown below.

2000

  • Straight Republican – 24,100 82%
  • Straight Democratic – 13,000 44%
  • Full Ballot – 27,500 94%

Republican Advantage: ~11,100 votes

%

Straight Republican

%

Straight Democratic

2004

  • Straight Republican – 25,100 85%
  • Straight Democratic – 16,300 55%
  • Full Ballot – 27,400 93%

Republican Advantage: ~4,200 votes

%

Straight Republican

%

Straight Democratic

2008

  • Straight Republican – 21,800 74%
  • Straight Democratic – 17,600 60%
  • Full Ballot – 29,400 100%

Republican Advantage: ~4,200 votes

%

Straight Republican

%

Straight Democratic

2012

  • Straight Republican – 22,709 77%
  • Straight Democratic – 16,670 57%
  • Full Ballot – 24,598 84%

Republican Advantage: 6,039 votes

%

Straight Republican

%

Straight Democratic

In 2012, HD114 had the second-lowest rate of straight-ticket voting among Dallas Co. House districts (HD108 was 3% lower.), but it produced the second largest Republican advantage (HD108 had 5,700 more.). In other area Republican-represented districts, Democrats have sustained progress chipping into Republican advantages, but not here. Democrats drew to within 4,200 straight-ticket votes in 2008, but 1K fewer people voted Democratic straight-ticket in 2012 as nearly 1K more people voted Republican straight-ticket.

Burke faced a decidedly uphill climb to begin with. Raising no money during the first six months of 2016 will not make the climb any easier. Based on historic voting trends, the presence of a Libertarian candidate on the ballot will have no consequential impact on the race.

Absent significant resources pouring into Burke’s campaign or some other highly adverse unforeseen event, we do not anticipate revisiting HD114 this cycle.

* We believe this is the Jim Burke who has filed for the seat. We are unable to locate any online presences or other readily available means of confirming the identity of the candidate. We will correct this report and announce on our site if we discover we have pegged the wrong Jim Burke.

Methodology

Because of redistricting and shifts in precinct boundaries over time, we can only estimate straight-ticket voting prior to the last time the district was drawn (2011). 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 lied entirely or partially in the current boundaries of HD114 in each even-year general election. We used precinct-level results from each general election. For each election prior to 2012, 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. We rounded to the nearest 100 to avoid appearing too precise in our estimation. For the 2012 and 2014 general elections, we were able to use the current voting precincts within the current districts without the need to allocate votes across split precincts. Because we could use complete precincts, we chose to provide the accurate vote totals. We thank the Texas Legislative Council for providing the shapefile data necessary to conduct this analysis. We obtained precinct-level election results data from county election officials.

Initial Thoughts on Statewide, Senate Campaign Finance Reports

Jan 18, 2017 | Campaign Finance

Campaign finance reports covering either the last six months of 2016 or, for candidates who had a contested general election, the period from October 29 to the end of the year, were due Tuesday. We have begun to incorporate those fundraising numbers into our Crib Sheets.

A few notes on the figures we’ve digested so far:

  • Greg Abbott’s $34.4M on hand is $16.4M more than he had on hand as of the end of 2012, which was the corresponding period for his first gubernatorial race. It is the second highest cash on hand figure ever recorded for a Texas state official, trailing only the $35.6M he reported having on hand as of June 30, 2014. He has raised $33.0M since January 2015, more than triple the amount he raised during 2011-12, the corresponding period prior to his first gubernatorial race.
  • Gov. Dan Patrick’s $13.7M on hand is larger than any cash on hand figure ever reported by former Gov. Rick Perry. Patrick has raised $13.2M since January 2015, more than former Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst raised in any single four-year period.
  • Attorney General Ken Paxton’s $4.6M on hand is the largest such figure he has ever reported, but it is not the largest figure ever reported for a sitting attorney general. That record belongs to Greg Abbott ($35.6M) while running for governor. Abbott also holds the cash-on-hand record for a sitting attorney general seeking re-election ($11.8M in October 2010).
  • Collectively, the top six constitutional elected statewide officials have $60.8M on hand as of December 31, 2016. Four years ago, the occupants of those six offices had $35.7M (more than half of which belonged to Abbott), and those same six officials had $20.6M on hand eight years ago (42% belonged to Abbott).
  • John Whitmire (D-Houston) has the fourth-highest cash-on-hand total of any elected official in the state, trailing Abbott, Patrick and Speaker Joe Straus.

Cash on hand figures for the statewide offices and senators up for election in 2018 are listed in the toggles below. We’ll have key House figures later this week.

Cash on Hand for Statewide Officials Up for Re-election in 2018

$33,433,840 – Gov. Greg Abbott
$13,662,191 – Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick

$4,645,569 – Attorney General Ken Paxton
$4,525,334 – Comptroller Glenn Hegar
$3,180,026 – Land Comm. George P. Bush
$1,923,894 – Railroad Comm. Christi Craddick

$570,804 – Justice Don Willett
$337,308 – Agriculture Comm. Sid Miller

$14,075 – Presiding Judge Sharon Keller
$12,693 – Justice Jeff Brown

$4,051 – Judge Barbara Hervey
$855 – Justice John Devine
$0 – Judge Elsa Alcala*

* Alcala has announced she would not seek re-election.

Cash on Hand for Senators Up for Re-election in 2018

$7,973,929 – Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston)

$1,852,945 – Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo)
$1,674,244 – Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown)
$1,609,183 – Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas)
$1,563,885 – Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin)
$1,465,568 – Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville)
$1,220,689 – Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills)

$881,140 – Sen. Don Huffines (R-Dallas)
$686,000 – Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels)
$670,562 – Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston)
$579,329 – Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls)
$525,817 – Sen. Van Taylor (R-Plano)
$454,444 – Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston)
$204,697 – Sen. Konni Burton (R-Colleyville)
$137,278 – Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood)

Johnson Retiring, Opening Seat in Collin Co.

Jan 6, 2017 | Campaign News

U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Plano) announced he would not seek re-election in 2018. Johnson won a special election for the House seat in 1991, succeeding former U.S. Rep. Steve Bartlett, who had been elected mayor of Dallas.

The district lies entirely within Collin Co. and includes all of Allen, McKinney, Melissa and the Collin Co. portions of Dallas, Frisco, Plano, Prosper and Richardson .This heavily Republican open seat is likely to be determined by the 2018 Republican primary (runoff) election.

Sen. Van Taylor

Sen. Van
Taylor

Potential candidates include Sen. Van Taylor (R-Plano); Reps. Pat Fallon (R-Frisco), Jeff Leach (R-Plano), Scott Sanford (R-McKinney), Matt Shaheen (R-Plano) and Scott Turner (R-Frisco); Collin Co. Judge Keith Self, District Attorney Greg Willis and Co. Comm. Susan Fletcher; and Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere. Other Republicans are expected to express interest in the seat.

In statements, Taylor and Leach thanked Johnson for his service but made no mention of a race to succeed him. Taylor lost a race for Congress to former U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards (D-Waco) in 2006. Self told the Texas Tribune he would “certainly consider” the race. A retired Army officer, he was first elected Collin Co. Judge in 2006.

In a tweet, Carrollton Mayor Matthew Marchant warned “ambitious Collin County friends” that local officials should be wary of “resign-to-run” provisions of state law that could trigger automatic resignations from current offices. As county judge, Self would be required to resign immediately upon announcing his candidacy under Article XVI, Section 65 of the Texas Constitution.

Incidentally, Section 251.001, Election Code provides that the filing of campaign treasurer paperwork does not constitute announcing one’s candidacy, so an officeholder affected by resign-to-run laws may still raise money and explore candidacy without becoming a candidate.

Johnson received 75% of the vote in the 2016 Republican primary against three opponents and 81% in the 2014 Republican primary against three different opponents. He had otherwise received at least 83% of the vote in every Republican primary since 1992.

Taylor’s senate district almost perfectly aligns to Johnson’s congressional district. Of the 178 precincts in Johnson’s district, 151 are also in Taylor’s district. Taylor is up for re-election in 2018, so a run for Johnson’s seat would require Taylor to abandon his re-election bid, opening the seat to his former House colleagues and others. Any House member seeking Taylor’s potentially open seat would have to abandon their re-election bids to the House, opening their seats to other Collin Co. Republicans.

Self and Willis are also up for re-election in 2018, but the resign-to-run law would open their seats earlier if they chose to run for Johnson’s (or Taylor’s) seat. Fletcher was re-elected last year but also subject to the resign-to-run law. LaRosiliere is up for re-election in May.

Jeff Blaylock

Jeff Blaylock

Publisher

Jeff is a political junkie and longtime public policy wonk who has worked political campaigns in Texas and several other states, ranging from school boards to legislators to governors to referenda. Now he offers his significant knowledge of, and accurate predictive analysis about, Texas elections as Texas Election Source.

More about Jeff

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