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March 08, 2004

Primary Preview 2002

By Byron LaMasters

Tonight, I'll be posting a primary preview for 2004, but as I'm about to prepare a review of the primary elections on this year's Texas Primary Eve, I find myself reflecting on the 2002 primaries. The following is a piece which I wrote as an email on Sunday, March 10, 2002. It should bring back some memories for a lot of us:

Races to watch... Texas Primary 2002

Governor (Dem Primary):
Sanchez vs. Morales. Sanchez should win this... I'm guessing with 55-60%.

US Senate (Dem):
Kirk vs. Bentsen vs. V. Morales. This race could break several ways with any two of these three in a run-off. Everyone was talking about this race last year, then when Dan Morales filed against Tony Sanchez, this race took a back-seat. There are several unknowns. Will Ron Kirk's late ad blitz help? Will his endorsements from Houston Mayor Lee Brown and former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros make an impact? Will V. Morales benefit from a large Hispanic turnout? How much will Bentsen benefit from his uncle's name recognition? Most
notably, how will the many people that have not taken an active interest in this race... who are more interested in the Gov. race vote?

Land Commissioner (GOP):
This is the only major Republican statewide contest. Cornyn and Dewherst (Sen, Lt. Gov candidates) have token opposion, but this race for an open seat has a spirted GOP primary between Dallas State Rep. Kenn George and former state Sen. Jerry Patterson. Patterson lost in the 1998 primary to Dewherst. This
could go either way. Its been particularly nasty with Patterson attacking George's business dealings extensively.

Land Commissioner (Dem):
Beaumont State Sen. David Bernsen (not to be confused with Rep. Ken Bentsen) is the favorite against Ray Madrigal - a perrenial candidate and small business owner from Corpus Christi. Bernsen is a good ol' boy, NRA member, etc - the kind of Democrat that has a good chance to win in Texas... but he's still a good Democrat and votes with Democrats the majority of the time. As a State Senator he authored the law that closed one of the grandfather loopholes for heavy polluting industries - so he has strong support from environmentalists, but doesn't have the image of a tree-hugging liberal. Anyway, this race is very interesting in that it will show the strength of an Unknown Hispanic against an established State Senator. Bernsen is clearly the better qualified candidate, but the huge Hispanic turnout could hurt him. Bernsen has been all over the state and has all the major endorsements... Madrigal has limited his appeal mostly to South Texas and Hispanics.

Agricultural Commissioner (Dem):
State Rep. Tom Ramsay vs. Brownsville City Commissioner Ernesto DeLeon. This is another race where an established state legislator is running against a relatively unknown Hispanic. However, Ramsay IMO is in more trouble than Bernsen. Ramsay hasn't been as active as Bernsen, and Ernesto DeLeon has been traveling across the state. Furthermore, DeLeon has some recognition from running for Ag. Commissioner in 1998 (he lost in the primary). DeLeon
has also worked for both the US Department of Agriculture and the Texas Department of Agriculture, and has actively campaigned across the state. This
race may be close. Still, whoever the nominee is - will likely lose to the popular GOP incumbent, Susan Combs.

Railroad Commissioner (Dem):
No biggie here... I support Sherry Boyles...

There are several interesting statewide Judicial races for Republicans:

Supreme Court Place 3 and 4: Two incumbent minority Repuiblicans, Wallace B. Jefferson (Black) and Xavier Rodriguez (Hispanic) who were appointed by Rick Perry are challenged by more conservative whites. Perry and Bush support the minories, but will the rank and file Republican primary voters?

Congressional races (open seats):

5th District (Dem):
Judge Ron Chapman should win the nomination easily
over two unknowns.
5th District (GOP):
Pete Sessions is moving to the new open 32nd, so this seat is open. Out of five GOP candidates, I see a 3-way race between Gulf War vetren Dan Hagood, former Phil Graham aide Jeb Hensarling and Houston laywer Phil Sudan, who has loaned his campaign several million dollars. I think that either Hagood or
Hensarling would make strong GOP candidates. Phil Graham is working hard for Hensarling. If Sudan wins the nomination... I can see the DCCC ads already "Do
you want your Congressman to be a Houston laywer?" - Chapman would trounce him.

25th District (Dem):
This is a pretty solidly Dem district now. It's open with Betsen running for US Senate. There's four candidates, Carroll G. Robinson, Paul Colbert, Chris
Bell and Steven King. The district is about 25-30% Black and Robinson is the only Black candidate. He should make the run-off with one of the other White
candidates. Robinson and Bell are Houston city councilman and Bell is well known as he ran for mayor, got only 17% of the vote, then endorsed Lee Brown in the run-off. King is a lawyer and Colbert is a former
State representative.

26th District (GOP):
Six candidates are running in the GOP primary to replace Dick Armey. The favorite is his son, Denton County Judge Scott Armey. His strongest challengers
seem to be Army Vetren Keith Self and Physician Michael Burgess.

31st District (GOP):
Eight candidates are running for this new seat that stretches from the Austin suburbs to the Houston suburbs. There's not really a frontrunner, and it will definitely go into a run-off. Two of the candidates - perhaps two of the strongest are from outside the district. Brad Barton, son of U.S. Rep. Joe Barton has moved into the district and has some Washington support via his dad. The other, Peter Wareing has run for Congress before and is a free-spending
millionaire. There's a judge and a bunch of folks running here. It's a heavily GOP district so the winner will be the next congressman.

Legislative races:

There's lots of interesting and close races. Most notable for casual observers are races when moderate Republicans (RINO's) are being challenged...

Texas Senate:

SD 1 (east Texas): Moderate Sen. Bill Ratliff is being challenged by Jerry Yost who is supported by the Religious Right.

SD 17 (Houston Suburbs): Moderate State Rep. Kyle Janek is running against Harris County (Houston) GOP chair Gary Polland who is supported by the Religous Right in an open seat race.

SD 25 (Northern San Antonio suburbs and Central Texas): By far the most interesting and contentious race. Moderate pro-choice state Sen. Jeff Wentworth is challenged by arch-conservative State Rep. John Shields.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at March 8, 2004 02:21 PM | TrackBack


no memories brought back here...

I just *recall* that was when Gray Davis' $10 million defeated our RINO (Richard Riordan) in the primary, which led to his *recall* a year later...

Posted by: BoiFromTroy at March 8, 2004 06:10 PM

Here are the likely competitive legislative races in tomorrow's Democratic primary, along with my predictions. I look forward to eating at least a little crow on Wednesday.

Glenn Lewis (D-Ft. Worth) -- Mark Veasey
Lewis is probably the most vulnerable incumbent; organization/grassroots beats money in this low turnout race
Lewis 46 - Veasey 54

Timoteo Garza (D-Eagle Pass) -- Tracy King
Never try to predict a Maverick County race, but ...
Garza 52 - King 48

Ron Wilson (D-Houston) -- Alma Allen
Two weeks ago, Wilson won have won with 58, but race has tightened
Wilson 51.5 - Allen 48.5

Allen Ritter (D-Beaumont) -- David Bernsen
This is hard to handicap; Bernsen has a surge of late money and a history of strong organization in the Golden Triangle -- but a little late out of the gate
Ritter 50.1 - Bernsen 49.1 (recount)

Dan Ellis (D-Livingston) -- Nancy Archer
If enough folks in Polk County vote (and vote in the D primary) Ellis wins easy; strong Liberty vote makes it competitive
Ellis 53.5 - Archer 46.5

Jaime Capelo (D-Corpus Christi) - Abel Herrero -Nelda Martinez
Run-off is certainty; Capello's bad press and Martinez' grassroots pointed to them in run-off; recent money surge by Herrero and some recovery by Capello makes this hard to call
Cappello 28.5 - Martinez 38.5 - Herrero 33

Gabi Canales (D-Alice) -- Yvonne Gonzalez Toureilles -- David Flores
Canales clan will ensure that Gabi makes run-off; Flores likely opponent
Canales 39 - Flores 32 - Toureilles 19

Roberto Gutierrez (D-McAllen) -- Veronica Gonzalez -- Jim Selman
Gutierrez seems to have underestimated opposition but will lead going into run-off; late money to Gonzalez gets her to second round
Gutierrez 39 - Gonzalez 32 - Selman - 29

Mario Gallegos, Jr. (D-Houston) -- Yolanda Navarro Flores
Incumbent's legal problems have kept him from moving above 50 percent in private polls, but Flores has never gotten above 30
Gallegoes 53 - Navarro Flores 47

Based on this, two incumbents (Lewis and Capello) lose and two more (Gutierrez and Canales) are forced into a run-off.

The two wild-cards are Ritter and Ellis, since GOTV and turn-out trends are hard to read.

Posted by: notgonnatell at March 8, 2004 07:34 PM

Gosh, this DOES bring back memories.

Last Primary, I was up until about 4 a.m. creating 29 (actually 58) sets of box-by-box result thihgys in PageMaker for the Canton Herald for the VZDemocratic and Republican primaries, and finishing some last-minute memos for my news staff on election coverage.

BUT, the race I was most concerned about was a little 'ol JP race in VZCounty Precinct 3. Yes, I was worried with everything else, too, but I had worked and consulted on this race and a lot was at steak--including the re-election of a 17-year incumbent and arguably one of the most popular elected officials in our county.

She won by 68%.

Posted by: Vince at March 8, 2004 09:52 PM

Hmm, then again, I'm hoping presidential primary goers in Wilson's district might put Allen over the edge (realistically - wouldn't this tend to bring people out of the woodwork?)

Posted by: Jim D at March 9, 2004 12:02 AM

Just finished voting. At 9:00am my partner and I were the 4th & 5th voters to show up at our precinct. They said there was more early voting this year, so hopefully that explains the slow turnout.

Posted by: Jason Young at March 9, 2004 09:52 AM

Where's the 2004 primary preview?

Posted by: omit at March 9, 2004 02:36 PM
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