Monday, November 18, 2013

First Look at March 4, 2014, Statewide Primaries

Blogging political predictions corresponds to performing the flying trapeze without a safety net.  Getting it right is exciting and satisfying.  Nevertheless, many in the audience attend and remain in rapt attention waiting for you to lose your grasp and fall, which you inevitably will at some point.

I got it right in the City of Houston mayor’s race from start to finish, correctly predicting that Mayor Parker would win without a runoff.  I was correct when I stated that Sen. Davis would run for Governor.  I fist pump these successes, because it is time to screw up my courage and climb back out on the trapeze.  

A week is a lifetime in politics, and we have thirteen weeks before early voting begins.  Much will change.  However, the following analysis is where I see the races today based on taking a snapshot of each race and projecting forward the trend lines.  The field will be set when filing for statewide offices closes at 6 p.m. on December 9.

Attorney General Greg Abbott will be the Republican nominee and Sen. Wendy Davis will be the Democratic nominee.  Abbott starts out as an 8 to 10 point favorite for the general election.

Lieutenant Governor
The Republican field appears headed to a May 27 runoff with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the lead.  The race for second place currently has Sen. Dan Patrick in front, with Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples following.  Patrick will take fire from multiple directions as Dewhurst pushes to avoid a runoff, and Staples and Patterson seek to slip past Patrick into the runoff.  At this point, I see a runoff between Dewhurst and Patrick.

Sen. Leticia Van de Puttee will be the Democratic nominee.

Attorney General
The Republican field consists of Rep. Dan Branch, Sen. Ken Paxton and Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman.  There will be a runoff, and any two of the three can make it.  Smitherman currently has a lead in the polls, with Paxton in second.  Branch will have the most money, and the question is whether it will enable him to make the runoff.  At this point I see a runoff between Smitherman and Paxton, but Branch is very much in the game.  (Disclosure:  I serve as Smitherman’s campaign treasurer).

Sam Houston appears be the Democratic nominee, although Sen. Carlos Uresti is still considering the race.  However, at the end of the day, I don’t believe Sen. Uresti will run.

I foresee a Republican primary runoff between Sen. Glenn Hegar and Debra Medina.  Medina has good residual name identification from her run for Governor in 2010, and Hegar continues to assemble a strong coalition of establishment conservatives and tea party conservatives.  Rep. Harvey Hilderbran will need to put up strong fundraising numbers on his January 15 report to remain competitive in this race.  (Disclosure:  I am assisting Hegar with his fundraising.)

Mike Collier will be the Democratic nominee.  He is a strong, qualified candidate, but appears to be running at least one cycle too early.

Land Commissioner
George P. Bush will be the Republican nominee and John Cook, former Mayor of El Paso, will be the Democratic nominee.

Agriculture Commissioner
The major Republican candidates are Uvalde Mayor J. Allen Carnes, former Rep. Tommy Merritt, former Rep. Sid Miller and SREC member Eric Opiela.  Nolan Ryan has ruled out a run.  The big question will be how much of his considerable fortune will Merritt spend on the race?  If he spends a couple of million dollars he could be a factor.  Otherwise, I anticipate a runoff between Miller and Opiela.

Kinky Friedman is the likely Democratic nominee, although efforts are underway to find a Democrat who can beat him in the primary.

Railroad Commissioner
Former Rep. Wayne Christian will probably lead a crowded Republican field into a runoff, with his likely opponent being either Malachi Boyles or Ryan Sitton.

Steve Brown, former Fort Bend County Democratic Chairman, will be the Democratic nominee.

Updated 11/18 to disclose that I am assisting Hegar with his fundraising.