Monday, April 2, 2012

Texas House -- The Action is in the Primaries!

We are now into April without a ruling from the D.C. court on pre-clearance.  I believe that the San Antonio court and the D.C. court have been communicating and coordinating all along, and the San Antonio court did not issue its interim maps without some comfort level that the D.C. court would not blow up the interim maps with an adverse pre-clearance ruling.  
The interim maps must still be pre-cleared by the Department of Justice.  However, testimony was previously given in the San Antonio court stating that maps would have to be in place by March 30 in order to have a June 26 primary (the last possible date).  If the Department of Justice were now to refuse to pre-clear the interim maps, Texas would not be able to conduct Republican and Democratic primaries in 2012.  It seems highly unlikely that DOJ would be willing to incur the responsibility for no primaries by refusing to pre-clear the interim maps.  Accordingly, I believe that the interim maps will stand and we will have May 29 primaries in Texas.
The Democratic and Republican primaries are where the majority of the action will be in the Texas House elections.  There are likely to be at most 10 competitive elections in November.  When all is said and done, there will be 90 to 95 Republicans in the House, down from 102 currently, and Democrats will number 55 to 60, up from 48.  Let’s look at the races.
102 Republican House members
  • 23 are not seeking reelection to the House
  • 25 did not draw a primary or Democratic opponent and are reelected
  • 30 drew only a Republican primary challenger
  • 8 have both a primary and a Democratic opponent
  • 16 have only a Democratic opponent
48 Democratic House members
  • 7 are not seeking reelection to the House
  • 23 are reelected because they did not draw a primary opponent or a Republican
  • 6 have only a primary opponent
  • 2 have both a primary and a Republican opponent
  • 10 drew only a Republican in the general election
31 Open seats
  • Although there are 30 incumbents not seeking reelection, there are 31 open seats because Hamilton and White are paired
  • 9 will be decided in the Republican primary, because no Democrat filed
  • 4 will be decided in the Democratic primary, because no Republican filed
  • 18 seats have both Democrats and Republicans running; 11 are likely to be won by the Republican, 6 by the Democrat, and the Legler open seat is a toss-up
After the Primaries
  • There will be 63 Republican members – no Democrats have filed in these seats
  • There will be 33 Democratic members – no Republicans have filed in these seats
  • There will be 54 general election contests, but at most 10 will be truly competitive
  • 140 of the House members will likely be known by the end of the primaries
  • In other words, all of the action is in the primaries!
November competitive seats
  • In November, it currently looks like there will be at most 10 seats in play – currently 9 are Republican and 1 is Democratic.  These seats and their 2012 Optimal Republican Voting Strength (ORVS) are:
  • HD 78 – Margo -- 47
  • HD 34 – Scott -- 47.1
  • HD 144 – Open -- 49.2
  • HD 117 – Garza -- 50.8
  • HD 23 – Eiland -- 51
  • HD 43 – Lozano -- 51.7
  • HD 107 – Sheets -- 54.9
  • HD 105 – Harper – Brown -- 55.3
  • HD 102 – Carter -- 56
  • HD 114 – Open -- 56.7
In my next post, I will begin looking at the primary races.