Texas voters are making their final choices about which Democratic nominees will have a shot at knocking off Republicans in a deep-red state Tuesday.
It’s a foregone conclusion that Republicans will win the vast majority of Texas congressional races in the fall, but Democrats have reason to be optimistic in four key races: the Seventh Congressional District, the 21st, the 23rd, and the 32nd. Hillary Clinton won three of these races in 2016, and the fourth — the 21st — is a rare open seat after Republican Rep. Lamar Smith announced his retirement.
Democrats face steeper odds in the race against incumbent Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, but two candidates will compete for the chance to run against him in November. Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who is mounting a serious challenge against Sen. Ted Cruz, already secured his nomination in March.
Live results below. Polls close at 8 pm Eastern.
Texas Democratic governor’s primary: Lupe Valdez versus Andrew White
Former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and Houston business executive Andrew White are vying for the Democratic nomination to face off against Republican incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott, who was first elected in 2014.
Both first-time candidates for statewide office, Valdez and White are taking two different paths to the nomination. Valdez, the state’s first openly gay and first Latina sheriff, is trying to turn out Latino voters. White, meanwhile, is courting suburban voters who dislike how far right the Texas government has become under Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s leadership.
Whoever wins will have a tough battle in November. The last time Democrats won a Texas governor’s race was in the 1990s. And this year doesn’t promise to be different; Abbott is one of the most popular governors in the country and will be tough to beat in November.
Texas’s Seventh Congressional District Democratic primary: Laura Moser versus Lizzie Fletcher
Activist and freelance journalist Laura Moser and attorney Lizzie Pannill Fletcher will square off in TX-7, which encompasses Houston’s western suburbs. Due to some explosive Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) meddling ahead of the first March, this race got national recognition early.
Things have quieted down ahead of the May runoff, but the race has turned into one between progressives and the establishment. Moser now has the backing of the Bernie Sanders–affiliated group Our Revolution and is positioning herself as the progressive insurgent.
Fletcher has the backing of Emily’s List, which helps elect Democratic women candidates who support abortion rights, and is trying to appeal to moderate voters. The seat is currently held by Rep. John Culberson, in office since 2001. He’s a conservative Republican and member of the House Appropriations Committee.
Texas’s 21st Congressional District Democratic primary: Joseph Kopser versus Mary Wilson
Army veteran and entrepreneur Joseph Kopser is running against pastor and retired professor Mary Wilson. Kopser has more money than Wilson, but she garnered more votes than he did in the first round of primary voting in March.
The DCCC hasn’t added either candidate to its Red to Blue list, but Kopser has the endorsement of No. 2 House Democrat Steny Hoyer and VoteVets, an organization supporting veterans for office. The 21st District didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016, but it’s on the list of potentially flippable districts because it’s an open race: Longtime incumbent Rep. Lamar Smith is retiring.
Texas’s 21st Congressional District Republican primary: Chip Roy versus Matt McCall
These two men emerged from a gigantic field of 18 candidates who competed in the March primary. They are former Texas Assistant Attorney General Chip Roy (who also served as former chief of staff to US Sen. Ted Cruz), and business executive and staunch Christian Matt McCall.
Roy is certainly the establishment Republican pick; he has a long history in Texas politics. McCall is running to the right (his campaign slogan on his website is “Conservative. Christian. Constitutionalist.”) Conventional wisdom says a Republican will win in November, but there are some interesting demographics at play: The large district includes a significant chunk of liberal Austin and stretches all the way down to areas north of San Antonio and rural counties out west. If there are the right conditions for a blue wave, TX-21 could be a pickup opportunity for Democrats.
Texas’s 23rd Congressional District: Gina Ortiz Jones versus Rick Treviño
Veteran Gina Ortiz Jones is squaring off against teacher Rick Treviño in TX-23, a huge district that wraps around San Antonio and encompasses most of West Texas and the southern border with Mexico.
Like in TX-7, this race is will be a test of whether progressives can win in Texas. Ortiz Jones has the backing of the DCCC and Emily’s List, while Treviño, a former Bernie Sanders delegate, was endorsed by the Sanders-affiliated group Our Revolution.
The winner will face Rep. Will Hurd, a young, moderate Republican who’s made a name for himself working across the aisle. He was a co-author of the Hurd-Aguilar bill to protect DREAMers (immigration is likely to be a big issue in November). Whoever wins on Tuesday has a real shot at beating Hurd — TX-23 has flipped blue before, and Clinton won it in 2016.
Texas’s 32nd Congressional District Democratic primary: Colin Allred versus Lillian Salerno
Former NFL player and civil rights attorney Colin Allred will face former Obama administration appointee Lillian Salerno in this Dallas-based district. Allred is backed by the DCCC, while Emily’s List has endorsed Salerno (but hasn’t spent a lot of money on her).
The winner will challenge incumbent Rep. Pete Sessions, chair of the House Rules Committee, who has been in office since 2003. Allred already garnered the vast majority of the votes in the March primary and is the Democratic favorite: He’s young, African American, and a former football player for the Tennessee Titans (a natural boost in football-loving Texas). Come November, Democrats are sure to try to tie Sessions to Trump; Sessions’s voting record aligns almost perfectly with the president’s policy priorities.