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After Local and State Primary Elections, Runoffs Emerge

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Photo: Mary Tuma, License: N/A

Victorious in their Democratic primary elections, incumbent County Judge Nelson Wolff and state Sen. and lieutenant governor candidate Leticia Van de Putte avoid May runoffs—but not everyone was so lucky.

Cadillac Bar was abuzz with election night fervor on Tuesday, March 4. The Bexar County Democratic Party took over the Downtown watering hole to celebrate wins, await totals and get down on the dance floor.

“It’s an exciting time for us; there are more local Democratic candidates running today than ever before,” Chair Manuel Medina tells the Current. “With strong leadership like Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte—from our hometown—at the top of the ticket and David Alameel going for the Senate, we’ve been able to translate that enthusiasm at the grassroots level.”

But as the dust settled after primary election night and winners soaked up their victories while defeated candidates delivered teary-eyed concession speeches, several of the primary races didn’t shake out as easily as Van de Putte’s uncontested lieutenant governor bid or Davis’ comfortable win—or SA state Rep. and Speaker of the House Joe Straus’ nearly double margin victory or George P. Bush’s smooth sailing to land commissioner, on the Republican side—and stand far from the finish line.

On the statewide level, incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst trailed state Sen. Dan Patrick, a religious conservative from Houston (Dewhurst polled at 27 percent statewide and 32 percent in Bexar county compared to Patrick’s 43 and 47 percent, respectively) in a show of Tea Party voting force, but garnered just enough votes to pit the two men against each other in what will be a very heated GOP primary runoff come May.

Likewise, while GOP gubernatorial candidate and current Attorney General Greg Abbott delivered his primary victory speech at San Antonio’s Aldaco’s Mexican Cuisine after crushing two Republican opponents vying for the now-open seat—McKinney Republican Ken Paxton (43 percent state/41 Bexar) and Dallas GOPer Dan Branch (32 percent/35 Bexar) face a May runoff for the state’s AG seat.

And watch out for these other GOP runoffs: former state reps Sid Miller vs. Tommy Merritt for ag commissioner; former state rep Wayne Christian vs. Ryan Sitton for railroad commissioner and Francisco “Quico” Canseco vs. Will Hurd for U.S. House District 23.

Bexar County Republican Party Chair Robert Stovall tells the Current he’s downright enthused by the caliber of GOP candidates in the runoffs; he’s eyeing the lite guv, AG and HD-23 races particularly closely. Stovall says the widespread ascension from lower Texas political office to higher ranks is unprecedented in his lifetime.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a shuffle like this from the top of the ticket down,” he says. “When [Gov.] Perry decided not to run, it created a floodgate of opportunity for candidates to move up the ladder.”

On the Democrat side, David Alameel and Kesha Rogers (who splashed national headlines for her not-so-popular call to impeach President Obama) go toe-to-toe in May and cigar-chewing, pro-pot Kinky Friedman takes on Jim Hogan for agriculture commish.

At one point, it looked like state Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) would likely see a runoff against former District 9 City Council member Elisa Chan, but the Tea Party darling narrowly took the lead with 54 percent of the vote and evaded another conservative showdown. (By the way, Chan, most famous for her ignorant anti-LGBT remarks scored 27 percent in the Bexar County Republican primary, so there’s that.)

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