Roundup: Texas Newspapers Make Their Primary Endorsements

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Traditional newspapers often offer endorsements of candidates their editorial boards prefer before a contested election is held. Now, on the second day of early voting for our primary election, several Texas papers have decided to make their voices heard. Newspapers that have issued endorsements for statewide elections include The Houston Chronicle, The Dallas Morning News, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Austin American-Statesman, The San Antonio Express-News, The Beaumont Enterprise, The Corpus Christi Caller-Times, and The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. The El Paso Times chose not to issue any endorsements for statewide races in this year's primary. To date, The McAllen Monitor has issued no endorsements of any kind for this election.

Regretfully, this roundup will be incomplete. The Corpus Christi Caller-Times has made their endorsements, but their article is behind a paywall and the information is privatized. With the exception of Lieutenant Governor, I will not be reporting on their preferences. Additionally, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal appear satisfied with their current list recommendations and will not endorse in every statewide race. In the case of The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, their primary recommendations appear biased against voicing their opinion in contested Democratic primaries where they omitted three of the the four Democratic races while only omitting one contested Republican primary. Lastly, the Austin American-Statesman is still issuing endorsements even though voting has begun. The Statesman has only endorsed in four of the twelve non-judicial statewide primaries to date.

US Senate (R)

Candidate Total Endorsements Endorsements
John Cornyn (I) 6 Beaumont Enterprise, Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Houston Chronicle, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, San Antonio Express-News
Steve Stockman 0 None
Others 0 None

John Cornyn ran the table in the endorsement race against his primary challengers. All papers agreed, Cornyn is the only credible Republican running for the office of US Senate. The Austin American Statesman has not endorsed in this race.

US Senate (D)

Candidate Total Endorsements Endorsements
David Alameel 4 Beaumont Enterprise, Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Houston Chronicle
Maxey Scherr 2 Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, San Antonio Express-News
Others 0 None

The race for the Democratic nomination for US Senate is much more contentious than is the case for the Republicans. Of the seven papers publicly endorsing, David Alameel leads with four endorsements compared to Maxey Scherr's two. Of these endorsements, many are not glowing for either candidate. Both the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Dallas Morning News were not impressed with any candidate running, but chose Alameel because they felt he would force Sen. Cornyn to campaign and earn his potential re-election this year. Meanwhile, The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal endorsed Ms. Scherr because she was most similar to a generic liberal rather than someone who's individuality impressed them. The Austin American-Statesman has not endorsed in this race.

Governor (R)

Candidate Total Endorsements Endorsements
Greg Abbott 5 Austin American Statesman, Beaumont Enterprise, Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News
Others 0 None

Attorney General Abbott is ready to make his nomination official. He has received five endorsements to date while his hapless primary opponents have collected none. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Lubbock Avalanche-Journal have not endorsed in this race.

Governor (D)

Candidate Total Endorsements Endorsements
Wendy Davis 5 Austin American-Statesman, Beaumont Enterprise, Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News
Reynaldo Mardigal 0 None

Sen. Wendy Davis is also ready to be nominated for Governor. She has also collected all five endorsements that have been issued to date. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Lubbock Avalanche-Journal have not endorsed in this race.

Lieutenant Governor (R)

Candidate Total Endorsements Endorsements
David Dewhurst (I) 5 Austin American-Statesman, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Houston Chronicle, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, San Antonio Express-News
Dan Patrick 0 None
Jerry Patterson 2 Beaumont Enterprise, Dallas Morning News
Todd Staples 1 Corpus Christi Caller-Times

Incumbent David Dewhurst has retained his support among the establishment; Dewhurst has collected five of the eight endorsements to date; a majority, barely. Meanwhile, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson has collected endorsements from Beaumont and Dallas while Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples has collected the only endorsement I can report from the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. State Senator Dan Patrick has no endorsements; in fact, the Houston Chronicle originally issued an editorial pleading with voters to choose any candidate not named Dan Patrick.

Attorney General (R)

Candidate Total Endorsements Endorsements
Dan Branch 5 Beaumont Enterprise, Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News
Ken Paxton 0 None
Barry Smitherman 1 Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

State Rep. Dan Branch leads in the fundraising and he leads in newspaper endorsements. With five endorsements to date, the not-crazy-extreme-but-still-very-conservative Republican has a clear majority of Texas papers backing him. Surprisingly, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal decided to back Barry Smitherman, head of the Texas Railroad Commission. State Senator Ken Paxton has earned no editorial endorsements to date. The Austin-America Statesman has not endorsed in this race.

Comptroller (R)

Candidate Total Endorsements Endorsements
Glenn Hegar 1 Dallas Morning News
Harvey Hilderbran 5 Beaumont Enterprise, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Houston Chronicle, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, San Antonio Express-News
Debra Medina 0 None
Raul Torres 0 None

The Republican State Senators running statewide finally get an endorsement: The Dallas Morning News endorsed Glenn Hegar for Comptroller, making that the only endorsement a Republican Texas Senator who is running for higher office has received this primary cycle. Meanwhile, State Rep. Harvey Hilderbran received the other five endorsements issued to date. The main reason the newspapers are breaking for Rep. Hilderbran can be found in the editorial from the Houston Chronicle, stating he seems interested in the office his running for and is not using the office of Comptroller to run for an even higher office in the future. Meanwhile, no papers endorsed Debra Medina or Raul Torres. The Austin American-Statesman has not endorsed in this race.

Land Commissioner (R)

Candidate Total Endorsements Endorsements
George P. Bush 6 Beaumont Enterprise, Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Houston Chronicle, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, San Antonio Express-News
David Watts 1 Austin American-Statesman

It is unsurprising the well-financed George P. Bush leads in endorsements in the race for Texas Land Commissioner, but it is surprising he did not sweep the endorsements. The Austin American-Statesman endorsed Bush's opponent David Watts, stating they found both candidates to be “weak.”

Agriculture Commissioner (R)

Candidate Total Endorsements Endorsements
J. Allen Carnes 3 Dallas Morning News, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, San Antonio Express-News
Joe Cotton 0 None
Tommy Merritt 0 None
Sid Miller 0 None
Eric Opiela 2 Beaumont Enterprise, Houston Chronicle

Former State Representatives Tommy Merritt and Sid Miller as well as Joe Cotten have struck out when it comes to editorial endorsements. Instead, former Texas Republican Party Executive Director and rancher Eric Opiela and Uvalde Mayor and farmer J. Allen Carnes are splitting the endorsements from Texas papers. The Austin American-Statesman and Fort Worth Star-Telegram have not endorsed in this race.

Agriculture Commissioner (D)

Candidate Total Endorsements Endorsements
Hugh Fitzsimons 4 Beaumont Enterprise, Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News
Kinky Friedman 0 None
Jim Hogan 0 None

Only four papers have endorsed in this race, but it is a clean sweep for rancher and water-conservationist Hugh Fitzsimons. No paper found humorist Kinky Friedman to be a serious candidate and many could not get a hold of Jim Hogan. The Austin American-Statesman, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and Lubbock Avalanche-Journal have not endorsed in this race.

Railroad Commissioner (R)

Candidate Total Endorsements Endorsements
Becky Berger 0 None
Malachi Boyuls 2 Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, San Antonio Express-News
Wayne Christian 0 None
Ryan Sitton 3 Beaumont Enterprise, Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle

For Texas Railroad Commissioner, venture capitalist Malachi Boyuls and oilfield engineer Ryan Sitton have impressed the editorial boards with two and three endorsements each. Neither has been elected to public office before, unlike their fellow candidate Wayne Christian, a former Texas Representative. Christian and geologist Becky Berger have earned no editorial endorsements to date. The Austin American-Statesman and Fort Worth Star-Telegram have not endorsed in this race.

Railroad Commissioner (D)

Candidate Total Endorsements Endorsements
Steve Brown 4 Beaumont Enterprise, Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News
Dale Henry 0 None

Former Fort Bend County Chair Steve Brown has swept the endorsements from Texas papers over former nominee Dale Henry. The Austin American-Statesman, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and Lubbock Avalanche-Journal have not endorsed in this race.

You can review all the candidates running statewide in Texas in our Burnt Orange Report Statewide Candidate Tracker.

You can follow me on Twitter at @trowaman.

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About Author

Joseph Vogas

Joseph was raised in Friendswood, Texas in North Galveston County. He went on to graduate from the University of North Texas with a degree in Political Science. After working for multiple campaigns, Joseph was able to work in the 83rd legislature in Austin in 2013. While retired from professional campaign work, Joseph enjoys sharing his knowledge of campaign data how to win elections in naturally unfriendly turf with others. Joseph is an avid archer and enjoys all things geek including Star Wars and DC Comics.

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