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Monday, July 29, 2013

A Tale of Two Cities


Texas is currently a Republican state with Republicans occupying all 27 statewide elected offices.  The last time Democrats won statewide elections was in 1994 when seven Democrats were elected:  Lt. Gov. Bullock; Attorney General Morales; Comptroller Sharp; Treasurer Whitehead; Land Commissioner Mauro; Supreme Court Justice Gonzalez; and Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge McCormick.
Republican primary voters alone have determined Texas’ statewide elected officials since 1998.  In that year, 596,839 voted in the Republican primary for Governor.  In 2010, 1,484,542 voted in the fierce Republican primary race between Governor Perry and Sen. Hutchison.  To be elected statewide in Texas, you needed at most from 298,420 Republican primary votes in 1998 to 742,272 in 2010.  I continue to see the Republican nominee as likely to prevail in the 2014 Texas general election.
Texas is also an urban state.  In 2005, 86% of the population lived in urban areas and 14% lived in rural areas according to the Texas Comptroller.  Those percentages have only increased since 2005.
The Republican primary vote has come to be dominated by the three corners of the Texas triangle.  In 2010, the Houston area[1] cast 19.34% of Republican primary votes; DFW[2] cast 25.29%; and the Austin/San Antonio corridor[3] cast 14.36%.  In 2012, the Houston area cast 21.51% of Republican primary votes; DFW cast 21.25%; and the Austin/San Antonio corridor cast 13.95%.
Five of the nine statewide executive agency officials hail from the Texas triangle cities:  Lt. Gov. Dewhurst (Houston); Attorney General Abbott (Houston); Comptroller Combs (Austin); Land Commissioner Patterson (Houston); and Railroad Commissioner Smitherman (Houston).
 In 2014, it could increase to seven out of nine from either DFW or Houston.  Abbott (Houston) will win the gubernatorial nomination and Bush (DFW) will win the nomination for Land Commissioner.  Three of the four Lt. Gov. competitors are from Houston, with Commissioner Staples, albeit a strong and viable contender, being from Palestine (Texas, that is).  All attorney general candidates are either from DFW (Branch and Paxton) or Houston (Smitherman).  
I see a decided geographic advantage in three other 2014 Republican primary races.
Comptroller
Current candidates are Sen. Glenn Hegar, Rep. Harvey Hilderbran, Debra Medina and former Rep. Raul Torres.    Hegar is from Katy, a Houston suburban city, while his opponents are from Kerr County, Wharton County and Nueces County.  Hegar also drew a four-year term in the Texas Senate, which means in 2015 he will either be a State Senator or State Comptroller.  Such certainty helps his fundraising.  Advantage:  Hegar.
Agriculture Commissioner
Current candidates discussed are Uvalde Mayor J. Allen Carnes, Rep. Brandon Creighton, former Rep. Tommy Merritt and SREC member Eric Opiela.  Creighton is from Conroe, which is part of the Houston MSA.  Carnes is from Uvalde County, Merritt from Gregg County, and Opiela from Karnes County.  Geographic Advantage:  Creighton.
Railroad Commissioner
Current candidates are Becky Berger, Malachi (“Mike”) Boyuls, Stephanie Carter, and Ray Keller.  Boyuls, Carter and Keller are from DFW, with Berger from Fayette County.  Geographic Disadvantage:  Berger.  (P. S.:  Mr. Boyuls’ nickname is not Mike; I was just trying to help him out).
Under current Texas statewide election dynamics, it is good to be a Republican candidate from either DFW or Houston.
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1 “Houston” for purposes of this analysis means the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) consisting of Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, San Jacinto and Waller counties. 
2 “DFW” for purposes of this analysis means the Dallas-Fort Worth- Arlington, TX MSA consisting of Collin, Dallas, Delta, Denton, Ellis, Johnson, Kaufman, Parker, Rockwall, Tarrant and Wise counties.
3 “Austin/San Antonio” for purposes of this analysis means the San Antonio-New Braunfels MSA and the Austin MSA consisting of Atascosa, Bandera, Bastrop, Bexar, Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe, Hays, Kendall, Medina, Travis and Williamson and Wilson counties.