Politicians weren’t the most compelling characters in yesterday’s primary election saga. Voters were. Media mouths frothed, with the phrase “blue wave” showing up in the headlines the way liberals hoped Democrats would show up at the polls. And Democrats did show up, in historical numbers — but not historical enough to outnumber Republicans. Red outvoted blue in the Senate and gubernatorial races by more than 65 percent.
Now that the primaries are over (sort of) the countdown to midterms has begun. Several runoff elections will take place on May 22, but if liberals want the wins they need to stop the bleeding in Washington and prevent GOP headwinds from pushing Trump into a second term in 2020. They need to start knockin’ on doors and making campaign calls immediately. The clock is ticking.
It’s going to be a hoot to spend the next few months listening Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz insult each other. So far O’Rourke has kept a fairly measured tone on Cruz, who’s already busting out attack jingles, but all hell could break loose as the El Paso populist fights to edge out one of the staunchest Republicans on all sides of the Mississippi for one of the most conservative states in the land.
They aren’t the only ones with drama. Lizzie Pannill Fletcher and Laura Moser of the 7th Congressional District have political pundits snacking on popcorn like it’s the Super Bowl of Olympic figure skating and someone’s about to do a triple axel touchdown. Their scene in last night’s episode of Texas politics didn’t disappoint. As the numbers rolled in, Pannill Fletcher and Moser duked it out for the lead necessary to skip a run-off election. Neither got it.
Read on to learn more about what went down when the lights went out yesterday.
Grassroots powerhouse Beto O’Rourke led with a considerable margin. Now folks are watching to see if the resident posterboy for underdog Democrats is scrappy enough to unseat an aggressive Republican secured firmly to his seat by a whole lot of corporate cash. Will a firestorm of hate and love incinerate Cruz and propel O’Rourke into office as the first Democratic Senator in Texas in 25 years? If the primaries are any indicator, the outlook isn’t good: Cruz scored more than twice as many votes as O’Rourke.
Incumbent Greg Abbott won an effortless Republican race with 90% of the vote. That’s more than Lupe Valdez and Andrew White can say.
White trailed Valdez by a 15 percent margin, but the former Dallas County Sheriff couldn’t round up the 50 percent she needed to make a clean break for November. Unless White can shore up some significant interest between now and the May 22 runoff, he’s likely to lose to a woman who would become the first openly gay Latina gubernatorial candidate in Texas.
U.S. District 2
November’s going to see white guy versus white guy competing to represent this badly deformed district. Todd Litton scooped more than the 50 percent he needed to represent a constituency that somehow puts artsy-fartsy leftists in Montrose and gun-toting conservatives in Humble all under one gerrymandered roof.
In Republicanland, it seems money might not buy votes after all. Kathaleen Wall used $6 million of her own money and an endorsement from Gov. Abbott to get out the vote, but she lost a spot in the runoffs to Dan Crenshaw by a sliver of a percentage. Crenshaw led Wall as the second place candidate in a final tally of 27.4 percent to her 27.08 percent. Crenshaw will take on Kevin Roberts in the May runoff.
U.S. District 7
Lizzie Pannill Fletcher and Laura Moser brawled through the night, with Pannill Fletcher scraping a 5 percent lead of 29.33 percent to Moser’s 24.34 percent vote. The upshot of their epic rematch is anyone’s guess.
Politicos across the country are reading their competition as the embodiment of the Democratic Party’s existential crisis. Pannill Fletcher is a more by-the-book Democrat than Moser, a very left-leaning progressive. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee went so far as to denounce Moser last month, presumably because she is too blue to draw votes from moderate reds. But a lot of liberals, including Moser, have the same reaction they had when the Democratic Party pulled the rug out from under Bernie Sanders in 2016: WTF?
Meanwhile, incumbent John Culberson won his primary with little surprise. But November might not be as easy, no matter which variety of the Democrat he faces.
U.S. District 29
Sylvia Garcia owned it last night with a 63 percent win. To many the news was received with joy. She’s described as a shoo-in for the seat that would be the first held by a Houston Latina. Republican candidate Phillip Aronoff wasn’t nearly as popular as Garcia. He’ll have to beat Carmen Maria Montiel in the runoff before he secures a place on the ballot, but in the proud blue district it probably won’t matter.