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Home | Tag Archives: texas votes

Tag Archives: texas votes

Analysis: Mentions in a Few News Stories Can’t Turn a Candidate into a Contender

Despite the constant stream of stories about the midterm elections, most candidates on the Texas ballots aren’t getting much attention outside of their small circles of supporters, donors and advisors. As a result, some have rejiggered their campaigns into grassroots efforts to hound reporters and editors into mentioning their names every time those news outlets write about politics or elections.

That’s not how this works. What gets attention and what doesn’t is vital to candidates — especially if they’re unknown, unheralded, from third parties with small followings, or are starving for notice far down a ballot stuffed with big-time, big-money candidates.

But the attention they want — that they need, in order to have some influence on the civic conversation and some support at the polls — doesn’t come from the news media. It comes from voters.

Some candidates blame their lack of notoriety on their lack of news mentions, like primitives who decide the wind blows because the trees move back and forth. They’re finding, like their predecessors, that you’re not news because you get mentioned by the news media; you get mentioned by the news media because you’re making news.

Getting onto the ballot is news. Once. Getting into a debate — which is, for the most part, a negotiation among political competitors — can be news, both in those negotiations themselves and then the performance in that debate, if a debate takes place. Drawing big crowds. Having ideas that catch on with those crowds. Having a real influence on the outcome of an election, either as a winner or as a spoiler.

Political reporters chase that kind of stuff. The Tea Party — a textbook example of outsiders organically creating a major political movement — didn’t get started in the papers or on radio or TV. Crowds started showing up all over the place (with help from early-stage social media) and those crowds made news.

Candidates from the parties — and from outside the parties — do this from time to time. Ron Paul made his mark as a Libertarian, turning eventually to the GOP to win a spot in Congress. In the 2006 governor’s race in Texas, 31.2 percent of the vote went to candidates who were not flying the Republican or Democratic flag. The winner, Republican Rick Perry, was re-elected with 39 percent. The third-party and independent candidates — Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Kinky Friedman, James Werner and James “Patriot” Dillon — combined to win more votes than Chris Bell, the Democrat in that race.

Third-party candidates generally haven’t done well in Texas, performing best in races where either the Democrats or Republicans haven’t fielded candidates. Ken Ashby, a Libertarian, got 19.4 percent of the vote against Republican U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling in 2016, but there were no Democrats in the race. One sign that U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, might be vulnerable is that he got 71 percent of the vote in his 2016 race — with no Democrat on the ballot. Libertarian Ed Rankin and Gary Stuard of the Green Party got 19 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

But they generally don’t win races. In fact, it’s unusual for Libertarian candidates to get more than 5 percent in races where both of the major parties have contestants. They do get enough votes to win access to the ballot — another way of saying their candidates are automatically included on the page when you vote. That’s better than the Green Party has fared lately.

It fuels their anger at being left out. That’s understandable. There they are on the ballot in Texas, but they haven’t been able to elbow their way into the conversations about debates or property taxes or marijuana or much else. That’s got to be frustrating.

Neal Dikeman and Mark Tippetts are running for U.S. Senate and governor, respectively, as nominees of the Libertarian Party of Texas. Each has a campaign underway to get more media attention, Dikeman by trying to edge his way into debates via social media, Tippetts by urging supporters on Facebook to “make some noise” about getting into publications like this one.

Each would like to be on stage in debates with the Republicans and Democrats whose parties dominate Texas and American politics and whose candidates have a much easier time getting attention. So would Kerry McKennon, the Libertarian running for lieutenant governor; Michael Ray Harris, the party’s candidate for attorney general; comptroller candidate Ben Sanders; land commissioner nominee Matt Piña; and Michael Wright, who wants to be a railroad commissioner.

They’re having a hard time getting mentioned and getting noticed by voters in a way that might help them get mentioned. It’s probably not fair. It is market-based, however: political news tends to follow influence and money — and stories. And interest, too: Like in political columns about candidates who can’t attract attention.

Author: ROSS RAMSEY – The Texas Tribune

Analysis: Here’s What’s in Play in Texas’ November General Elections

Now that the first round of this election cycle is out of the way, we can talk about November.

The election moves now — runoffs notwithstanding — to battles between the major parties instead of battles within them.

What’s in play? There’s one congressional seat, and maybe a couple more, that could change flags when the major parties clash. There’s a seat in the Texas Senate, and a couple of wildcard races that will put new people in that body. And there are a dozen or so spots in the Texas House that could go to either the Democrats or the Republicans. Those races will lock down the list of voters in the first significant election of 2019 — the one for speaker of the Texas House.

The top of the ticket is stronger on the Republican side, hardly a surprising development in a state where that party has dominated politics and government for decades.

The most interesting race — which is not to say it will be the most competitive when the votes are tallied — is the one where Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is being challenged by Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke. The governor’s race isn’t set, with Democrats Lupe Valdez and Andrew White on their way to a May runoff. And Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick will face Democrat Mike Collier in his re-election bid.

The other non-judicial statewide races — for attorney general, comptroller, and land, agriculture and railroad commissioners — all feature incumbent Republicans and largely untested Democrats. They’re like the bands trying to get attention at the South By Southwest gathering in Austin, unheralded and hoping for a break.

Texas will have eight new people in its congressional delegation, replacing the people who didn’t seek new terms this year. Recent political results favor incumbent parties in those six Republican and two Democratic districts. Three districts where incumbent Republicans are running are generally considered the most likely candidates for political changes. U.S. Rep. Will Hurd of Helotes represents the state’s only true swing district — one that can be won by a candidate of either party. Two more members of Congress — John Culberson of Houston and Pete Sessions of Dallas — are on Democratic target lists because, while they both won in 2016, they won in districts where Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump.

The closest thing to a swing seat in the Texas Senate is Konni Burton’s in Tarrant County. The Colleyville Republican will face Beverly Powell in a general election that could be a test of President Donald Trump’s popularity in the sort of midterm election that often goes against a sitting president.

Two other seats could be in play soon. Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, won the Democratic nomination for a congressional seat; at least two Democrats have already jumped into her replacement race. Garcia doesn’t have to leave the Senate unless she wins the congressional seat in November, but she could leave early.

en. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, was convicted on federal charges including fraud and money laundering and could face millions in fines and years in prison. Like Garcia, he isn’t on the ballot this year — but like Garcia, he’s not expected to be in the Senate when the 86th Legislature convenes next January. Candidates are lining up in that one, too.

The Texas House, which will start 2019’s business by electing a new speaker to replace Joe Straus, who isn’t seeking another term, has a dozen seats where both Democrats and Republicans have a reasonable shot at victory, depending on the political mood and the quality of the candidates on each side.

That’s not enough to flip the House majority. With 95 Republicans and 55 Democrats now, that would require a 21-vote swing. What’s more, the swings are divided between Democrats and Republicans. The state’s Democrats are hoping to pick up five to 10 seats; Republicans are hoping to hang onto their strong majority. Both are hoping to have a strong influence on the selection of the next speaker in a race where three candidates have already surfaced and more are in waiting.

One definition of a swing seat is one in which neither statewide Democrats nor statewide Republicans have been able to run away in elections. The House has a dozen where the average margin of victory in statewide races has been smaller than 10 percentage points.

Five are held by Democrats: Philip Cortez of San Antonio, Abel Herrero of Robstown, Joe Moody of El Paso, Victoria Neave of Dallas and Mary Ann Perez of Houston. Each will have a Republican opponent and, perhaps, third-party opponents in November.

Seven are held by Republicans: Rodney Anderson of Grand Prairie, Cindy Burkettof Sunnyvale, Tony Dale of Cedar Park, Sarah Davis of West University Place, Larry Gonzales of Round Rock, Linda Koop of Dallas and J.M. Lozano of Kingsville. Burkett gave up her seat for an unsuccessful Senate bid, and Gonzales didn’t seek another term. Both major parties have candidates in those two open seats, and the Democrats have a candidate in each of the others.

Those aren’t the only seats in play — just the obvious ones. More than 30 primary races won’t be settled until the May runoffs. A mess of seats are virtually decided since only one major party has a candidate, a list that includes four seats in the state’s congressional delegation, two in the state Senate and 53 in the House.

Everything else is theoretically up for grabs. But some are easier to reach than others.

Read related Tribune coverage:

Author: ROSS RAMSEY – The Texas Tribune

Four Texas Political Stories to watch for in 2016

The new year is already shaping up to be one of the most active in Texas politics — and not just because the presidential race will center on the state come March 1, the day of the primary.

On top of a race for the White House with plenty of connections to Texas, the state will elect — or re-elect — a new wave of lawmakers at both the state and federal level. Meanwhile, current lawmakers will hash out major issues that are bound to shape the next legislative session. And the fate of state’s top law enforcement official, indicted Attorney General Ken Paxton, will continue to hang in the balance.

Here are four stories to watch for as 2016 gets underway:

1. How big a role does Texas play in the presidential race?

With an earlier-than-usual primary, Texas is set to have expanded influence in the 2016 presidential race on March 1. That is especially true on the Republican side, where candidates are paying special attention to the group of mostly Southern states expected to vote March 1 in what is being called the “SEC primary.” That group includes the Lone Star State, whose 155 delegates make it the biggest prize that day for the GOP contenders.

From the outset of Republican race for the White House, it looked like Texas could play host to a showdown among several hopefuls with strong ties to the state, including at least U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, former Gov. Rick Perry, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. But with Perry now out of the race and Bush and Paul struggling in the polls, expectations are higher than ever for Cruz to notch a home-state victory — as long as he can fend off national frontrunner Donald Trump.

2. How much redder does Texas become?

Despite high-profile efforts to turn Texas blue, there have been few signs that state is headed in that direction; in fact, recent elections suggest the state is becoming even redder. That could be borne out in the March 1 primaries, when a number of Texas House and Texas Senate districts could turn even redder than they already are.

The number of Republicans in the Legislature is unlikely to change dramatically, but the type of Republican could — which matters in a state where the most competitive races are often between Republicans and Republicans, not Democrats and Republicans. That’s evident in places like Senate District 1, where retiring Sen. Kevin Eltife of Tyler, a moderate Republican, is all but guaranteed to be replaced by a more conservative lawmaker.

3. What issues foreshadow the next legislative session?

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus have given committees in both chambers a series of issues to study that range from the largely noncontroversial to the politically touchy. Falling in the latter category are all types of issues that could expose divides between Democrats and Republicans — not to mention Republicans and Republicans — such as ethics reform and religious liberty.

What will also be telling is which issues the state’s top three leaders — Gov. Greg Abbott, Patrick and Straus — take charge of ahead of the 2017 session. Political considerations may be heightened for Straus, who faces two challengers for his seat and a likely one for the gavel if he wins re-election.

4. Can Ken Paxton hang on?

Several months since he was indicted on securities fraud charges, there has been little public political pressure for Paxton to step down. But that could change in 2016, especially after a judge’s denial in December of all his lawyers’ motions to quash the charges — a decision that moved him closer to a trial.

Under state law, Paxton does not have to give up his job unless he is convicted. However, if the prospect of a trial looks more and more likely as the new year unfolds, discussions about Paxton’s potential replacement could intensify, making it harder for the former state senator to hold on to his post as the state’s top law enforcement official.

Author:  – The Texas Tribune

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, pol itics, government and statewide issues.

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