Battleground 2020Elections 2020Super Tuesday 2020: What to Watch in Texas Tonight

As Texas holds its Super Tuesday primary, our reporters have identified and summarized the races they'll be watching most closely this Election Night.
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Ahead of the primary results tonight, The Texan has identified a set of key races to keep an eye on as the votes are tallied in the Lone Star State.

State Races

HD 25: Who will succeed Speaker Dennis Bonnen in his House seat?

After Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) came under fire for offering a quid pro quo to conservative grassroots leader Michael Quinn Sullivan and lying about the events that occurred, the embattled state leader announced he would not run for reelection to his seat in the Texas House. 

Though no other House members have announced their intention to run to replace Bonnen in his position as speaker, the Republican primary attracted five candidates seeking to replace him — Angleton City Council Member Cody Vasut, former police officer and school board member Troy Brimage, Brazoria County Tax-Assessor Collector Ro’vin Garrett, emergency room nurse Rhonda Seth, and Bay City Chamber of Commerce President Mitch Thames.

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Though Brimage boasts the most impressive fundraising totals according to the latest reports, the results of this race are expected to be competitive.

HD45: Which Republican will face off against Rep. Erin Zwiener in the general election?

Located in Hays and Blanco counties, Republicans are aiming to unseat Rep. Erin Zwiener (D-Driftwood), who won while the seat was open in 2018.

Before Zwiener, former Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs) served in the seat for several terms. Now, his wife, Carrie Isaac, is running for the seat.

Kent “Bud” Wymore is also seeking the Republican nomination and, fundraising-wise, it has come down to a race between him and Isaac.

Austin Talley, a veteran and businessman, is also running an active campaign for the seat, though he has raised substantially less than the other two candidates.

The race has been fraught with mudslinging, as Isaac has faced criticism over the previous use of Jason Isaac’s campaign finances and the effectiveness of the non-profit organization she helps lead.

Wymore, in turn, has been questioned about his commitment to the Second Amendment given his prior record in leading lawsuits that have led to the closures of gun ranges.

We’ll be watching to see if either Isaac or Wymore can secure over 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff, or if Talley can manage to pull in a surprising amount of votes with his limited funding.

Check out The Texan’s War Room page for more of our coverage on the race.

HD 47: Who gets to face incumbent Rep. Vikki Goodwin (D-Austin) in the general?

The five-way GOP primary has become quite heated in the home stretch. It’s come a long way since the five candidates posed together for a friendly photograph in mid-December. 

The race will almost certainly trigger a runoff, but the question is which candidates will qualify. The five candidates are Austin police officer Justin Berry; attorney Jennifer Fleck; attorney Jenny Roan Forgey; former Marine and attorney Aaron Reitz; and former Austin city councilman Don Zimmerman.

Forgey has outraised the other candidates, with only Zimmerman coming close. Zimmerman will benefit from having already been on the ballot — something none of the other candidates have. Fleck and Reitz have touted their conservative credentials in the race.

Berry, as a police officer, has made Austin’s homelessness crisis a key part of his campaign. 

Whoever emerges, Goodwin will be waiting with her large war chest, ready to defend her position.

Check out The Texan’s War Room page for more of our coverage on the race.

HD 60: Who will replace retiring Rep. Mike Lang (R-Granbury)?

When Rep. Mike Lang announced his retirement from the legislature for the second-but-final time in mid-December, the door opened for businessman and Wilks family member Jon Francis to jump in. 

This primary is really a contest between Francis and veterinarian Glenn Rogers, who had been running against Lang before he dropped out. Rogers has support from many of the local government and special interest organizations such as the Texas Farm Bureau. He has also been endorsed by Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX-11) and former governor Rick Perry. 

Francis meanwhile, has fashioned himself as a grassroots conservative. He has been endorsed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Lang himself.

The race will be one of the most expensive — if not the most expensive — primary races in Texas history by the time it’s through. Francis has raised over $600,000 from close to 600 different donors — a bulk of which has come from Francis’s in-laws, Farris and Jo Ann Wilks. Rogers, for his part, has raised over $250,000.

Francis has accused Rogers of flip-flopping on taxpayer-funded lobbying and opposing constitutional carry — Rogers admitted to changing his mind on the former after first being opposed to a ban and maintains he supports the latter but wants “training requirements” in place.

Rogers, meanwhile, has criticized Francis for putting “campaign propaganda signs” at polling locations.

Specifically, watch to see if Francis can avoid a runoff on Tuesday. If not, HD 60 residents can count on two and a half more months of mailers and TV ads. 

Check out The Texan’s War Room page for more of our coverage on the race.

HD 92: Will Republican candidates follow in retiring Rep. Jonathan Stickland’s steps of being a strong voice for conservatives or move in a more moderate direction?

Before announcing his retirement, Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) represented the Tarrant County district as a conservative firebrand, unafraid to advance his beliefs no matter the cost.

As Republicans look for a new candidate moving into 2020, the question is whether or not the district is seeking another tea party conservative with grassroots support or wanting a more moderate representative. In 2018, Stickland narrowly defeated his Democratic opponent, Steve Riddell, by a margin of less than 1,500 votes.

The Democrat primary for the district is a brawl between Steve Riddell, who hopes to secure the nomination once again, and Jeff Whitfield, who outraised Riddell in the last quarter and earned an endorsement from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

The Republican primary, however, is likely to be the most contested.

Jeff Cason is the Republican candidate whose policy agenda most closely aligns with that of Jonathan Stickland and who has garnered strong grassroots support from organizations like Texas Right to Life and Empower Texans. He also was endorsed by Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn.

By contrast, former Bedford Mayor Jim Griffin has also raised strong support among the local community rooted in his past public service experiences, but his approach remains more moderate to that of Stickland’s.

Taylor Gillig, a newcomer to politics and the youngest of the candidates, is also running for the Republican nomination, touting his past experience serving in the U.S. Marines. When compared to Cason and Griffin regarding his policy views, Gillig likely falls somewhere in the middle of his two opponents. 

Moving forward, the primary results will indicate if the North Texas district is as conservative as it once was, or if instead, it is moving in a more moderate direction.

More information about this race can be found on The Texan’s War Room

HD 132: Houston Toss-Up District Viewed As Possible GOP Pickup in November

Although Democrat Gina Calanni won this seat in 2018 by 113 votes, Rice University fellow Mark P. Jones rates HD 132 as a “toss-up” in 2020. 

Two Republicans have filed for a chance to unseat Calanni next November: small business owner Angelica Garcia and former Rep. Mike Schofield. 

Prior to his 2018 loss to Calanni, Schofield had held the Houston area suburban district seat for two terms, and served on House committees for Judicial and Civil Jurisprudence and Juvenile Justice and Family Issues. 

Known for sharp legal acumen and attention to legislative detail, many Republicans were eager to see Schofield return to the House, but before his official announcement in October of 2019, Garcia garnered the endorsement of Governor Greg Abbott.

While Garcia also touts endorsements from the Houston Realty Business Coalition and C-Club, Schofield is supported by both the United Republicans of Harris County and the Conservative Republicans of Harris County.

More information about this race can be found on The Texan’s War Room. 

HD 138: Three-way Republican Primary Rocked by Eligibility Controversy 

Before announcing his retirement last September, Representative Dwayne Bohac had represented the western Harris County district since 2003, but barely won his 2018 re-election bid with a spare 47-vote margin. Since then, Rice University’s fellow Mark P. Jones has moved this race into the “leans Democrat” column, and Texas Democrats see HD 138 as an essential target in their efforts to take control of the Texas House. 

The GOP primary got off to a rocky start due to questions surrounding the eligibility of Josh Flynn, whose $6 per meeting compensation while serving on the Harris County Department of Education Board of Trustees may have disqualified him in this race.

Flynn, who is the son of Texas Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Canton), was endorsed by Texas Alliance for Life.

The Republican front-runner seems to be Lacey Hull who has led in fundraising efforts and has garnered a lengthy list of endorsements from Governor Abbott and many local Republican members of the Texas House.  She also touts endorsements from a number of conservative and business-related PACs.

On the Democratic ticket, Josh Wallenstein has raised and spent the most, and is endorsed by the Texas AFL-CIO, the Houston Federation of Teachers union, and the Houston GLBT Caucus, while candidate Akilah Bacy was endorsed by the Houston Chronicle.

Jennifer Rene Pool, who in 2016 was the first transgender candidate to win a Texas primary election, is on the Democratic primary ballot, but has not filed financial reports or actively campaigned for the seat.

More information about this race can be found on The Texan’s War Room. 

Federal Races

Senate: With more uncertain voters than those pledging support for any single candidate, will MJ Hegar win the Democratic nomination outright or face a runoff?

The race among Texas Democrats to see who will emerge as the nominee to challenge Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) has been a strange race from the outset. For the past several months, the primary has appeared largely uncertain, as candidates in the crowded field have struggled to build name ID amidst the ongoing presidential primary. 

In the most recent polls, MJ Hegar, an Air Force veteran who previously ran a close race against Rep. John Carter (R-TX-31), has taken a clear lead in the field, but still more voters appear undecided.

An NBC News/Marist poll (conducted Feb. 23-27) placed Hegar in the lead with 16 percent and a poll from Univision and the University of Houston (conducted Feb. 21-26) placed her in the lead with 20 percent.

Workers Defense Project founder Christina Tzintzún Ramirez and State Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) trailed with 9 and 8 percent, respectively, in the NBC poll and with 10 percent each in the Univision poll.

With a dozen candidates appearing on the ballot, there is a strong possibility of a runoff should Hegar be unable to secure over 50 percent of the vote. Her difficulty may be compounded by the fact that most polls show a large percentage of voters still undecided about a candidate, with 34 percent undecided in the NBC poll.

Check out The Texan’s War Room page for more of our coverage on the race.

TX 07: Will Trump’s endorsement of Wesley Hunt be enough to avoid a runoff?

Republicans are determined to take back control of this key district in Harris County, which Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX-07) won in 2018 against longtime Republican Rep. John Culberson by a five-point margin.

There are several GOP candidates vying for their party’s nomination. Wesley Hunt is the frontrunner, having raised $1.9 million and secured the endorsements of President Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

Since five other candidates are in the race — including two who have both raised a notable amount, former Bellaire mayor Cindy Siegel and Maria Espinoza — a runoff in the race is quite possible.

Check out The Texan’s War Room page for more of our coverage on the race.

TX 11: Which Republican will make it in a likely runoff with August Pfluger?

With the announced retirement of Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX-11), ten Republicans jumped into the race to see who would be the next representative of the district. The winner of the primary is expected to go on to easily win the general election, as the district is one of the most Republican in the country.

August Pfluger, a veteran who briefly served on the National Security Council, raised over $700,000 within the first few weeks after he announced his campaign. To date, he has raised $1.4 million, received the endorsement of President Trump, and has been supported in the district from outside groups, most notably from the With Honor Fund.

Nearly all of the other candidates joined together in a press conference attacking the pro-veteran group’s involvement in the race. The candidates criticized With Honor for having been funded in large part by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and for requiring candidates it supports to pledge to “participate in a cross-partisan veterans caucus.”

As with many of the other races we are watching on Super Tuesday, the large number of candidates in the race means that there is a strong possibility of a run-off. 

Brandon Batch and J.Ross Lacy have also been able to raise over $150,000 each, with the latter also receiving some notable endorsements. Jamie Berryhill has received endorsements from several conservative advocacy groups in the state and J.D. Faircloth will likely receive a boost from his name recognition as the former mayor of Midland.

Check out The Texan’s War Room page for more of our coverage on the race.

TX 12: Can long-time incumbent Rep. Kay Granger be unseated? 

After representing the North Texas District stretching across portions of Tarrant County, Wise County, and Parker County for 12 terms, Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX-12) is well-known amongst voters in the community. As the Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee and the most senior female GOP member of the House, she has earned prominence throughout her long tenure in office. However, Granger now finds herself facing a challenging and competitive primary from former Colleyville City Councilman, Chris Putnam.

Since announcing his candidacy in September, Putnam has garnered strong support from conservative grassroots organizations, including Club for Growth and Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn. He also boasts hauling in more than $500,000 in the first week of his campaign with a platform that embraces his stance as a Washington outsider in juxtaposition to career politicians.

For her part, Granger touts endorsements from President Trump, the National Rifle Association (NRA), and Susan B. Anthony List among other pro-life organizations, despite previously describing herself as a pro-choice Republican in years past.

It remains to be seen if the North Texas district is ready for a new representative or content to keep the status quo with Granger. 

More information about this race can be found on The Texan’s War Room

TX 13: Which is more likely to help a candidate win: an endorsement from the incumbent, the ability to self-finance your campaign and the backing of the House Freedom Caucus, or having closely served the president?

The 13th Congressional District is another represented by one of the six retiring Texas Republicans, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX-13). This district stretches across the panhandle and along the Texas-Oklahoma border.

Like TX11, the Republican nominee is expected to go on to win the general election with ease — based on the Cook Partisan Voting Index, TX13 is the most Republican district in the country. The race is competitive, though, with several GOP candidates having different unique strengths to their campaigns.

Josh Winegarner, the industry affairs director for the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, has raised about $500,000 and received the endorsement of Thornberry, as well as retiring Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX-11).

Chris Ekstrom, a businessman and prominent GOP donor, has been able to outspend Winegarner relying on a loan of $850,000 and raising another $140,000. Ekstrom has also received major endorsements from conservatives in Congress, including the chair of the House Freedom Caucus, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ).

Ronny Jackson, who served as a White House physician under the past three administrations, is also one of the most high-profile candidates in the race. Since he entered the race late last December, he has already raised $184,000, the third most out of any candidate.

A few officials that might benefit from some local name recognition are also in the running, including Wichita County Commissioner Lee Harvey and Amarillo City Councilwoman Elaine Hays.

Check out The Texan’s War Room page for more of our coverage on the race.

TX 17: Is Rep. Bill Flores’ endorsement enough to put Renee Swann in the runoff to replace him?

When retiring Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX-17) endorsed Renee Swann as his successor, he did so hoping that would consolidate the establishment-type of support behind one candidate rather than being split three ways. The candidates Swann is jockeying with to make the runoff are former TX-32 congressman Pete Sessions and House Freedom Caucus-pledged George Hindman. 

Other candidates that have a runoff shot are former College Station city councilwoman Elianor Vessali, former Secret Service agent Scott Bland, and former Marine Master Sergeant Trent Sutton.

Both Hindman and Vessali are the two of the above candidates who have pledged to join the House Freedom Caucus if elected. Flores apparently rescinded his support for Vessali after she pledged to join the Freedom Caucus.

Check out The Texan’s War Room page for more of our coverage on the race.

TX 22: With 15 Republicans on the ballot, a runoff seems likely.

This “most crowded primary” features 15 Republicans and 5 Democrats competing for a chance to replace retiring Congressman Pete Olson (R-TX-22).

On the Republican side, leading candidates include Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls, Pierce Bush, Kathaleen Wall, Bangar Reddy, Greg Hill, and Joe Walz.

Republican activists and precinct chairpersons within the district have told The Texan that they believe Nehls is the front runner, followed by Bush and Wall pursuing second place and a second shot in a likely runoff election. Last weekend the Wall campaign sent mailers claiming Nehls and Bush are weak on immigration issues, and she continues to flood local airwaves with radio and television ads that ally her closely with President Trump.

Wall, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2018, has spent more than $3.2 million thus far.

Democrat Sri Preston Kulkarni lost to Olson by 5 percentage points in 2018, but needs to top Nyanza Davis Moore, Derrick Reed, Carmine Petrillo, and Chris Fernandez in his party’s primary for a second shot at representing what has been called one of the most diverse congressional districts in the nation.

President Trump won the 2nd Congressional District by 8 points in 2016, but shifting demographics have led Cook Political Report to rate this district a toss up in 2020.  

Check out The Texan’s War Room page for more of our coverage on the race.

TX 23: Can Gina Ortiz Jones and Tony Gonzalez avoid runoffs?

With incumbent Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX-23) retiring, a door is opened for Democrats to flip the seat. Hurd’s 2018 opponent, Gina Ortiz Jones, is the odds-on favorite for the Democrats — and is probably the most likely contested-primary candidate to reach above 50 percent of the vote. 

On the flip side, Tony Gonzalez is the likely favorite for Republicans. But having not been on the TX-23 ballot before, he faces more of an uphill climb to avoid the runoff. 

The district is rated as “lean Democratic” by both Cook Political Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball, so it will be difficult for whoever the GOP nominee is to hold onto the seat Hurd only secured by fewer than 1,000 votes two years ago.

But if either, or both of the candidates can avoid a runoff, that will be money and time saved which can be spent on their heavyweight general election.

Check out The Texan’s War Room page for more of our coverage on the race.

TX 28: Can Rep. Henry Cuellar stave off a progressive challenger?

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28) has not been in a tight primary contest since he unseated incumbent Democrat Ciro Rodriguez in 2004 by 58 votes. Today, he finds the proverbial tables have turned as progressive Jessica Cisneros hopes to upset the incumbent. 

Cisneros has been backed by the bevy of national and state progressive organizations and elected officials including Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro while Cuellar is backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). 

Cisneros has also received a lot of support by way of independent expenditure ad-buys and mailers.

But The Texan has heard from sources that her on-the-ground campaign is sparse. The results on Election Night will show whether an electoral coup spearheaded by online presence and TV ads can overcome an anemic ground presence and an established, well-liked incumbent. 

TX 32: Will Colin Allred know who his general opponent is tonight or will that have to wait until May?

In one of the hottest Texas congressional face-offs of 2018, former professional football player Colin Allred (D-TX-32) defeated Washington D.C. staple Pete Sessions in a race that loudly signaled a shift in the Dallas County electorate. Sessions’ defeat was just one of many suffered by Dallas Republicans in the general election, including State Sen. Don Huffines (R-Dallas) and a multitude of local and state house seats. 

Though a win in November for Republicans may be an uphill battle, multiple candidates have lined up to fight for the GOP nomination. Retired Navy Seal Floyd McClendon and businesswoman Genevieve Collins have arguably made the biggest splash going into election day, fundraising copious amounts of money and airing ads touting their supposed viability if they were to be matched up against Allred.

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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad watching and quoting Monty Python productions.