OPINION COLUMNS

Abbott, Davis win primaries for governor

By Ed Sterling | Published Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Texas’ March 4 primary night returns confirmed Greg Abbott and Wendy R. Davis as nominees for governor.

Abbott, current state attorney general, got 91.5 percent of the statewide vote in the GOP primary. Davis, a state senator from Fort Worth, got 79 percent in the Democratic primary. “Ray” Madrigal of Corpus Christi got 21 percent.

In the race for lieutenant governor, state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio ran unopposed and is the Texas Democratic Party’s nominee. Her legislative resume includes eight years as a state representative and 13 years as a state senator.

In November, Van de Putte’s opponent will be the winner of a May 27 runoff between incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston. Dewhurst has presided over the Senate since January 2003. Patrick was first elected to the Senate in November 2006. It was Dewhurst who appointed Patrick as chair of the Senate Committee on Education in the 2013 regular session of the Legislature. Patrick received 41.5 percent of the Republican primary vote to Dewhurst’s 28.3 percent.

Incumbent U.S. Sen. John Cornyn won the right to seek reelection in November. In a field of eight Republican candidates, Cornyn received 60 percent of the vote. Coming in second was U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman of Clear Lake, with 19 percent.

The top two vote-getters in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate were David Alameel, a Dallas dentist, businessman and U.S. Army veteran, and political activist Kesha Rogers of Houston. A May 27 runoff will decide which of the two will face Cornyn in November.

In the Republican Party race for attorney general, state Sen. Ken Paxton of McKinney got 44 percent of the vote, state Rep. Dan Branch of Dallas got 33 percent and current Texas Railroad Commissioner Dan Smitherman got 22 percent. Paxton and Branch will be in a May 27 runoff, and the winner will face Sam Houston, a Houston attorney, who ran unopposed in the Democratic Party primary.

In the race to succeed Susan Combs as comptroller of public accounts, state Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, received just under 50 percent of the vote – not enough to avoid a runoff. State House Ways and Means Chair Harvey Hilderbran, R-Kerrville, got 26 percent of the vote. Hilderbran’s second-place finish in a field of four candidates earned him the right to a runoff, but he announced he would forego the contest and support Hegar’s candidacy.

Mike Collier, a Houston businessman, ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and will face Hegar in the November general election.

George P. Bush, a Fort Worth attorney, son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, grandson of 41st President George H.W. Bush and nephew of 43rd President George W. Bush, won 73 percent of the vote over David Watts (27 percent) in the GOP primary for Land Commissioner. In November, Bush will face John Cook, who ran unopposed in the Democratic Party primary. Cook, a former mayor of El Paso, is a military veteran and a former Southwestern Bell executive.

Former state representatives Tommy Merritt of Longview and Sid Miller of Stephenville were the top vote-getters in the Republican Party primary for agriculture commissioner. They will face each other in a May 27 runoff. The winner will run against the winner of a May 27 runoff between Democrats: dairy farmer Jim Hogan of Cleburne and musician-novelist Richard “Kinky” Friedman of Medina.

Former state representative Wayne Christian of Center and Ryan Sitton, an oil and gas engineer and businessman from Pasadena, were the top two GOP vote-getters for Railroad Commissioner. They will vie in a May 27 runoff and the winner will face Steve Brown in the general election in November. Brown, with 64 percent, won the Democratic Party primary over Dale Henry, who tallied 36 percent.

In the GOP race for chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court, incumbent Nathan Hecht won with 60.5 percent over former state representative Robert Talton’s 39.5 percent.

Hecht will face William Moody, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.

More details and results of all other primary races can be found at www.sos.state.tx.us.

JOBLESS RATE IS LOWEST IN YEARS

Texas Workforce Commission on March 7 announced the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 5.7 percent in January, the lowest since November 2008.

It was down from 6.0 percent in December and remained below the nation’s January unemployment rate of 6.6 percent.

Texas employers expanded their payrolls in January with the addition of 33,900 seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs, for a total of 322,400 jobs added over the year.

Ed Sterling is member services director for the Texas Press Association, headquartered in Austin.

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