Early voting ended May 23 and Tuesday, May 27, was state primary election runoff day.
Voting records available to the public at the Office of the Secretary of State show that turnout is historically low for mid-term primaries and even lower for primary runoff elections. But what’s different about this set of runoffs – and something that should stimulate voter turnout – were the powerful offices at stake.
Tops in that regard was the race for lieutenant governor, the state’s second-highest-ranking executive post. Three of the lieutenant governor’s many important duties are picking committee chairs and members, controlling the flow of legislation and shepherding the state budget as a member of the Legislative Budget Board.
Republicans voting in the runoff for lieutenant governor chose between incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst of Houston and challenger Dan Patrick, a state senator representing northwest Houston. Dewhurst, as lieutenant governor, has presided over the Senate since 2003. Patrick, first elected in 2007, served as chair of the Senate Committee on Education in the 2013 regular session of the Legislature.
The winner will face Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio, a state senator who ran unopposed in the March Democratic primary. Van de Putte served as a member of the Texas House of Representatives from 1990 to 1999 and has been a member of the Senate since 1999. She joins fellow state Sen. Wendy R. Davis, candidate for governor, on the Democratic ticket. Davis will face Republican candidate for governor Greg Abbott, current Texas attorney general, in November.
In the Republican runoff for attorney general, the choices were lawyer-legislators Dan Branch of Dallas, a state representative, and Ken Paxton of McKinney, a state senator.
For agriculture commissioner, Republicans chose between former state representatives Sid Miller of Stephenville and Tommy Merritt of Longview.
And, in the race for railroad commissioner, GOP voters chose between former State Rep. Wayne Christian of Center and Ryan Sitton, a Pasadena oil, gas and petrochemical industry consultant.
Democratic voters chose between runoff opponents Dr. David M. Alameel of Dallas and Kesha Rogers of Houston, who are vying to face incumbent U.S. Sen. John Cornyn on the November ballot. And, for agriculture commissioner, Democrats chose between author-musician-humorist Richard S. “Kinky” Friedman of Medina and farmer-rancher-insurance agent Jim Hogan of Cleburne.
TEXAS TECH PICKS DUNCAN
Texas Tech Board of Regents on May 19 announced state Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, as the sole finalist for chancellor of the Texas Tech University System. He is expected to resign from the Texas Senate and start in his new capacity on July 1.
As chancellor, Duncan will serve as chief executive officer and will report to the system’s board of regents. Current Chancellor Kent Hance reportedly will become chancellor emeritus at that time.
Duncan, 60, was born in Lubbock, grew up in Vernon and earned his bachelor’s degree and law degree from Texas Tech. He was elected to the House in 1992 and in 1996 won a special election to the Senate.
PERRY WRITES TO PRESIDENT
Gov. Rick Perry, who ran for president in 2012 and may run for president again in 2016, on May 19 posted an 873-word letter he signed and sent to President Obama about energy and the economy.
“You reassured the American people of your commitment to an all-of-the-above energy strategy to bring our nation closer to energy independence while creating needed jobs,” Perry wrote, and then suggested that the president take a “Texas approach” to create jobs and stimulate the nation’s economy by switching to a less-regulated strategy.
That strategy would include such actions as stepping up coal-burning power plant capacities, opening the Keystone XL pipeline and increasing oil and gas operations on land and offshore.
HURRICANE SEASON NEARS
Texas Department of Public Safety on May 19 drew attention to the upcoming hurricane season, June 1 through Nov. 30, and urged Texans to assemble an emergency kit.
An emergency kit, the DPS suggested, should include essential documents, supplies and provisions. And, Texans should:
- Review hurricane evacuation maps and pick routes to safe locations;
- Plan how all family members and pets will evacuate safely and consider any special needs for individuals with disabilities or older persons; and
- Stay informed about changing weather conditions.
Ed Sterling is member services director for the Texas Press Association.