A number of general election matchups in Texas were set following Tuesday’s runoff elections, including a few expected to be competitive in the fall.
Democrats saw new opportunities in the Lone Star state after Hillary Clinton carried three Republican-held seats in 2016. Each of those races on the Democratic side went to a runoff after no one took more than 50 percent of the vote in the March 6 primary. A slew of Republican retirements sparked crowded GOP primaries, which led to runoffs in five open seats. The winners of most of these contests are likely to come to Congress from the Republican-leaning districts.
Check back for updates as the runoffs are called.
Democrats are targeting three districts represented by Republican lawmakers that Clinton carried in 2016.
The 7th District contest captured headlines after national Democrats dropped opposition research on activist and writer Laura Moser ahead of the March 6 primary. Although Moser made it to the runoff, she was defeated by lawyer Lizzie Pannill Fletcher on Tuesday.
With 63 percent of precincts reporting, Fletcher led Moser, 68 percent to 32 percent, according to The Associated Press.
During the campaign, Fletcher stressed reaching out to GOP voters to flip the district. She had the backing of EMILY’s List and a number of local Democrats. She will next face nine-term GOP Rep. John Culberson in the Houston-area district that Clinton carried by 1 point in 2016. Inside Elections rates the race Tilts Republican.
Former Air Force intelligence officer and Iraq War veteran Gina Ortiz Jones won the Democratic runoff in the 23rd District, defeating former high school teacher Rick Treviño. She will face two-term GOP Rep. Will Hurd in November.
With 46 percent of precincts reporting, Jones had 67 percent of the vote to 33 percent for Treviño when The Associated Press called the race.
Democrats have unsuccessfully targeted the seat the past two cycles, but believe Jones’ military service can help counter Hurd’s experience as a CIA officer.
Jones was added to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Red to Blue program for promising challengers after she finished first in the March primary. If elected, she would be the first Filipina-American to serve in Congress and the first openly gay woman to represent Texas in Washington.
Clinton carried the district by 3 points in 2016. Inside Elections rates the race a Toss-up.
Former NFL player Colin Allred won the Democratic runoff in the 32nd District on Tuesday, defeating fellow Obama administration alum Lillian Salerno, who was backed by EMILY’s List.
With 54 percent of precincts reporting, Allred led Salerno, 70 percent to 30 percent, according to the AP.
The DCCC added Allred to its Red to Blue program in late March, signaling it considered Allred the stronger challenger to Republican incumbent Pete Sessions. Clinton carried the Dallas-area district by 2 points in 2016. Inside Elections rates the race Likely Republican.
Five open seats are hosting GOP runoffs Tuesday. In four of them, the winners will be strongly favored for November in the Republican-leaning districts.
The races attracted attention from outside groups. The political arm of the conservative Club for Growth spent nearly $1.5 million in four of the contests. The political arm of the House Freedom Caucus backed candidates in two of the runoffs.
Navy veteran Dan Crenshaw won the GOP runoff for Texas’ 2nd District over state Rep. Kevin Roberts. GOP incumbent Ted Poe is not running for an eighth term.
With 22 percent of precincts reporting, Crenshaw led Roberts, 68 percent to 32 percent when the AP called the race.
He next faces Democrat Todd Litton, a nonprofit executive, in November.
President Donald Trump carried the Houston-area seat by 9 points in 2016. Inside Elections rates the race Solidly Republican.
Ron Wright won the GOP runoff for the open 6th District seat that his onetime boss, GOP Rep. Joe L. Barton, is vacating after a sexting scandal.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Wright, a former Tarrant County tax assessor-collector, defeated Navy veteran Jake Ellzey, 52 percent to 48 percent.
Wright had Barton’s support and was backed by Club for Growth Action. He will next face public relations consultant Jana Lynne Sanchez, who won the Democratic runoff over Ruby Faye Woolridge on Tuesday.
Trump carried the district by 13 points in 2016. Inside Elections rates the general election race Solid Republican.
Chip Roy, a former chief of staff to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, won the the GOP runoff in the 21st District, defeating businessman Mike McCall in the race to succeed retiring GOP Rep. Lamar Smith. Club for Growth Action had spent more than $454,000 backing Roy in the primary.
With 95 percent of precincts reporting, Roy led McCall, 53 percent to 47 percent, according to the AP.
Awaiting Roy in November will be Army veteran and entrepreneur Joseph Kopser, who won the Democratic runoff Tuesday. Democrats are targeting the 21st District and see Kopser as a strong candidate.
With 83 percent of precincts reporting, Kopser led pastor and former teacher Mary Street Wilson, 59 percent to 41 percent, according to the AP.
Trump carried the district by 10 points in 2016 and Inside Elections rates the race Likely Republican.
Michael Cloud won the GOP nomination in Texas’ 27th District, which opened up after GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold stepped down amid allegations of sexual harassment.
With 88 percent of precincts reporting, Cloud, a former Victoria County GOP chairman, had 61 percent of the vote to 39 percent for former state Water Development Board Chairman Bech Bruun.
Bruun had been endorsed by former Texas Gov. Rick Perry while Cloud was backed by the political arms of the House Freedom Caucus and the Club for Growth, as well as former Texas Rep. Ron Paul.
Cloud will be heavily favored to win the general election against former congressional aide Eric Holguin, who won the Democratic runoff Tuesday. Trump carried the district by 24 points in 2016. Inside Elections rates the race Solid Republican.
The Democratic nominees in a few Solid Republican races were also decided Tuesday.
Sri Preston Kulkarni won the Democratic runoff in the Houston-area 22nd District on Tuesday, defeating dentist Letitia Plummer, 62 percent to 38 percent with 100 percent of precincts reporting.
Kulkarni, a former U.S. Foreign Service officer, will be an underdog in the general election against five-term GOP Rep. Pete Olson. Trump carried the district by 8 points in 2016.
Mary Jennings “MJ” Hegar won the Democratic nomination to take on GOP Rep. John Carter in the 31st District in November.
With 80 percent of precincts reporting, Hegar led Christine Mann, 62 percent to 38 percent, according to the AP.
During a 2009 tour of Afghanistan as a search-and-rescue pilot, Hegar saved three of her passengers after her helicopter was shot down by the Taliban, which earned her a Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor Device and a Purple Heart.
Democrats have been cautiously optimistic about the seat though the DCCC has not yet added it to its target list.
“From surviving against all the odds when her helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan, to her work opening up jobs for women in the military, MJ Hegar has never backed down from a challenge. MJ’s unparalleled commitment to serving her country and the tireless work she has done to build a strong, Texas-first campaign makes this race one to watch in November,” DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján said in a statement after the race was called.
Trump carried the 31st District by 13 points in 2016.
A Texas newspaper filed a lawsuit saying a county agency broke the state’s open meetings law when it hired former Rep. Blake Farenthold as a lobbyist.
On Monday, the Victoria Advocate announced it was suing over whether the county ports authority discussed hiring the disgraced former congressman in a closed meeting on May 9.
The notice for the meeting described that it would be regarding “for the purposes of deliberating the appointment, employment, compensation, evaluation, reassignment, duties, discipline or dismissal of a public officer or employee.”
But it did not specifically mention Farenthold’s name, his proposed job or his $160,000 salary.
The lawsuit was filed in the Calhoun County district court and seeks to void the hiring of Farenthold, saying the ports authority acted illegally.
“Few rights of the public are as important as the right to knowledge about how their government spends taxpayer funds and manages the public’s business. This suit is to vindicate those rights and reaffirm ... that sunshine is indeed the best disinfectant,” the newspaper’s attorney John Griffin wrote in the filing.
The ports authority called for a special meeting on Thursday, and the announcement for that meeting identifies Farenthold as part of the agenda.
Griffin said the port authority should have named Farenthold since he is a former congressman who would be paid $160,000.
The fact Farenthold refused to pay the federal back after he used $84,000 to settle a sexual harassment claim after he resigned from Congress is another contributing factor to the suit, Griffin said.
“The more significant the issue or person, the more detail that’s required in the notice, and this notice was a boilerplate, generic notice, not unlike notices for any other meeting,” he said.
Farenthold resigned in April after the revelations that he paid off a former staffer who had filed a sexual harassment claim with taxpayer money. After saying he would repay the amount of the settlement, he later said he would not, citing advice from attorneys. He also refused Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s request that he cover the cost of the special election to replace him.
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