Friday, April 20, 2012

East Texas House Races

The attack mail pieces are starting to hit.  Television advertising has been bought and is beginning to air.  Early voting begins in 30 days, and 50% or more of the votes are likely to have been cast prior to election day.  In other words, we are in the primary home stretch for Texas legislative races.
East Texas is Ground Zero for Texas House Republican primary races.  SD 3 (Nichols) contains in whole or in part 11 House seats:  10 of them have Republican primaries.  SD 1 (Eltife) has an additional 4 seats with 3 primary contests.  SD 2 (Deuell) includes 3 more with 2 primaries.  Finally, SD 4 (Williams) has 3 additional with 2 primaries.  In total, there are 20 House seats covered by the 4 East Texas Senate districts, and 16 of them have Republican primaries -- 80%!
Here is how I see the 16 races 30 days out.
  • HD 2 (Hopkins, Hunt and Van Zandt) -- Rep. Dan Flynn appears to be in good shape against his challenger.
  • HD 3 (Waller and Montgomery) -- Cecil Bell is the clear favorite in this open seat.
  • HD 4 (Kaufman and Henderson) -- Rep. Lance Gooden is weathering a TEA party challenger.
  • HD 5 (Rains, Wood and Smith) -- Rep. Bryan Hughes is favored in this race against an educator-backed challenger.
  • HD 6 (Smith) -- Rep. Leo Berman seems to be holding off his challenger.
  • HD 7 (Gregg and Upshur) -- I see Rep. David Simpson defeating former Rep. Tommy Merritt in a rerun of 2010.
  • HD 8 (Hill, Navarro et al.) -- State Affairs Chair Byron Cook is brushing aside his challenger.
  • HD 9 (Cass, Marion et al.) -- Rep. Wayne Christian is being challenged by Marshall Mayor Chris Paddie.  I give Paddie the edge.
  • HD 10 (Ellis and Henderson) -- Appropriations Chair Jim Pitts appears to be weathering 3 challengers.  The key for Chairman Pitts is to avoid a runoff.
  • HD 11 (Cherokee, Nacogdoches and Rusk) -- General Investigating and Ethics Chair Chuck Hopson is in a tight race with a challenger from the population center of the district.  Tie goes to the incumbent, Hopson.
  • HD 15 (Montgomery) -- Public Education Chair Rob Eissler appears in good shape against his challenger.
  • HD 18 (Liberty, San Jacinto and Walker) -- Rep. John Otto will easily defeat his challenger.
  • HD 19 (Hardin et al.) -- Licensing and Administrative Procedures Chair Tuffy Hamilton and Rep. James White have squared off in the only House race with 2 incumbents.  Hamilton has strong lobby and House leadership support.  Texans for Lawsuit Reform is going to the mat for White.  I see Hamilton defeating White.
  • HD 21 (Jefferson and Orange) -- Natural Resources Chair Allan Ritter is brushing aside his secessionist challenger.
  • HD 23 (Chambers and Galveston) -- 3 Republicans are competing for the nomination to oppose Rep. Craig Eiland in the only Democratic House seat that is potentially in play in the general election.  Advantage:  Eiland.
  • HD 57 (Leon to San Augustine) -- Rep. Marva Beck is being challenged by Trent Ashby.  Ashby is from the population end of the district, and is an attractive and well-financed candidate.  At this point, I give Ashby the edge.