The primary runoff proved to be a very good night for REALTOR®-supported candidates. RPAC successfully supported one congressional candidate. TREPAC took positions in nine state legislative races and won seven.
Turnout was very low across the state. About 830,000 of the state’s 16 million registered voters showed up.
About 403,000 Republicans voted in the runoff. It should be noted that many Texas Republicans had no high-profile races to consider. Indeed, in 111 of the state’s 254 counties, there were no contested races at all for Republicans.
Democrats turnout (430,000) was the lowest ever for a Democratic gubernatorial runoff (the first since 1990). This number breaks a record set in 1920, when 449,000 voters cast ballots in the first-ever runoff for governor. Not only is this a record-setting low, the Texas population is about seven times higher now.
Runoffs remain dangerous for incumbents. Since 1992, only five of 27 incumbents who have gone into a runoff have defended their seat:
Details and analysis
TREPAC/RPAC-supported candidates denoted in bold (Republican/Democrat)
- CD 5 – State Rep. Lance Gooden (53.1%) survived a contentious race against fundraising giant Bunni Pounds (46.9%). Gooden’s service in the Texas House of Representatives paid off … he won 61% of the votes in the area he represents (HD 4), but lost the balance of the district 51-49. Gooden faces Democrat Dan Wood in November.
- HD 4 – Forney school board president Keith Bell (58.9%) defeated former state Rep. Spitzer (41.1%). The Empower Texans-backed Spitzer lost the HD 4 primary (to Lance Gooden) in 2012, won in 2014, and lost in 2016 (again to Gooden). Bell will face Democrat Eston Williams in this heavily Republican district.
- HD 8 – In TAR’s highest priority race, Texas REALTOR® and former TREPAC Trustee Cody Harris (54.4%) beat Empower Texans-backed Thomas McNutt (45.6%) – Harris rode a 70% victory in his home county (Anderson) to defeat McNutt in one of the most expensive and watched races in the state. Harris faces Democrat Wesley Ratcliff in November.
- HD 13 –After finishing second on March 6, former Grimes County Judge Ben Leman (57.3%) defeated Empower Texans candidate Jill Wolfskill (42.7%). Leman will face Democrat Cecil Webster in November. Interestingly, Leman was the top vote-getter (but didn’t hit 50%) in a special election to fill the unexpired term of former Rep. Leighton Schubert on May 5. Wolfskill, who finished second in the special election, has pulled out of the special runoff, which means Leman will be sworn in before the start of the 86th Texas Legislature.
- HD 37 – After securing nearly 49% of the vote in March, incumbent René Oliveira (43.3%) was unable to fend off Cameron County Commissioner Alex Dominguez (56.7%). Rep. Oliveira, who chairs the House Business and Industry Committee, is classified as a REALTOR® Champion and will be missed in the Capitol. There is no general election challenger, so Dominguez will represent HD 37 in 2019.
- HD 46 – After finishing second in March, former Austin Mayor Pro-tem Sheryl Cole (51.9%) defeated immigration attorney and former legislative staffer José “Chito” Vela (49.1%) by 173 votes. Cole faces Republican Gabriel Nila in November in this heavily Democratic district.
- HD 54 – Former Killeen Mayor and incumbent Scott Cosper (41.7%) was unable to fend off popular veterinarian Brad Buckley (58.3%). Buckley will face Democratic candidate Kathy Richerson and a Libertarian in the general election in a district which leans Republican.
- HD 62 – Former Grayson County Republican Chairman Reggie Smith (71.2%) easily defeated Empower Texans candidate Brent Lawson (21.8%) to replace outgoing Rep. Larry Phillips. Though this seat is solidly Republican, Smith does have a general election challenge from a Libertarian and Democrat Valerie Hefner.
- HD 109 – After finishing second on March 6, former DeSoto Mayor Carl Sherman (64.2%) doubles up Deshaundra Lockhart Jones (35.8%). Sherman does not have a general challenger.
- HD 121 – In maybe the most watched race in the Texas House, business conservative Steve Allison (57.5%) handily defeated Empower Texans-backed Matt Beebe (42.5%), who has now lost HD 121 elections three times (2012, 2014, 2018). HD 121 is being vacated by five-term Speaker Joe Straus, who supported Allison. This is a solid Republican seat, but Allison faces Democrat Delina Montoya and a Libertarian in November.
- 3RD Court of Appeals, Place 6 – Empower Texans candidate Mike Toth (52.8%) defeated longtime Austin elections and ethics attorney Donna Davidson (47.2%). Toth faces Democratic State District Judge Gisela Triana in November.
Other races of note (Primary victor denoted with underlines)
- Governor – Former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez (52.7%) defeated Andrew White (47.3%) and will now take on Gov. Greg Abbott in November. Valdez is the first openly lesbian and first Latina to win a major-party gubernatorial nomination in Texas.
- CD 2 – Retired Navy SEAL Dan Crenshaw (69.9%) soundly defeated state Rep. Kevin Roberts (30.1%) and will face Democrat Todd Litton in this solidly Republican District.
- CD 6 – In the race to succeed retiring Republican Congressman Joe Barton, former Tarrant County Tax Assessor Ron Wright (52.2%) rode high name ID to victory over veteran Jack Ellzey (47.8%).
- CD 7 – Democrat Lizzie Pannill Fletcher handily defeated activist Laura Moser and will challenge incumbent Republican John Culberson in November. Fletcher is an attorney who had establishment Democratic support. This is one of three seats held by Republican congressmen (CD 23, CD 32) where Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump
- CD 23 – Former high school teacher and Air Force intelligence officer Gina Ortiz-Jones (67.9%) defeated Rick Trevino (32.1%). Ortiz-Jones will face incumbent Republican Congressman Will Hurd in this swing seat.
- CD 21/21 – The race to succeed retiring Congressman Lamar Smith yielded two of the most watched primaries in Texas. On the Republican side, former Ted Cruz Chief of Staff Chip Roy’s (52.7%) runoff victory against Matt McCall (47.3%) was one of the most closely watched GOP congressional races. Roy will face off against Austin tech entrepreneur and Army veteran Joseph Kopser (58%), who handily defeated minister and former teacher Mary Street Wilson (42%) in the Democratic primary.
- CD 27/27 – A surprising margin of victory for former Victoria County GOP chair Michael Cloud (61%) over Bech Bruun (39%), a Gov. Abbott appointee to the Texas Water Development Board, in the race to succeed Congressman Blake Farenthold. Cloud will face Democrat Eric Holguin, who received 61.9% of the vote in the Democratic primary runoff. This is about a 5:2 Republican district.
- CD 31 – Air Force veteran MJ Hegar (62.2%) bested Christine Eady Mann (37.8%) and will face Congressman John Carter in a rapidly changing district north of Austin.
- CD 32 – Colin Allred (69.5%) defeats Lillian Salerno (30.5%) – Keep an eye on this one … Allred will face Congressman Pete Sessions in what will be one of the most watched (and expensive) races nationwide in November
- HD 47 – Austin REALTOR® Vicki Goodwin (58%) overcame progressive activist Elaina Fowler (42%) – Goodwin will face off against Rep. Paul Workman in a seat that many consider to be up for grabs.
- HD 107 – Empower Texans-backed Deanna Metzger (56.1%) defeated veteran Joe Ruzicka (44.9%) to earn the right to take on incumbent Democratic Victoria Neave in November in this swing district.
- HD 133 – After missing an outright primary win by just five votes in March, Democrat Sandra Moore (44%) lost last night’s runoff to Marty Schexnayder, (56%), who now moves on to face Rep. Jim Murphy in this very Republican district.