Roundup: Texas Newspapers Make Their Runoff Endorsements

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Texas newspaper endorsements, when compiled as a whole, can be a useful voters guide

In February, Burnt Orange Report rounded up how newspapers broke in their endorsements for statewide primaries before the March 4 election. On Tuesday, Texans will vote in the runoffs for races where no candidate received over 50% of the vote during the primary. Six statewide races will proceed to runoffs. Democrats across Texas will decide their nominees for US Senate and Agriculture Commissioner and Republicans will vote on who should be their nominees for Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Agriculture Commissioner, and Railroad Commissioner.

Traditionally, editorial boards of newspapers voice their opinion on who should be elected or nominated with endorsements. The El Paso Times declared in February they would not be endorsing in statewide primaries. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal and Corpus Christi Caller Times both offered endorsements in the initial primary but did not offer endorsements for the runoffs.

The Houston Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, San Antonio Express-News, Fort Worth Star Telegram, Austin American Statesman, and Beaumont Enterprise all decided to participate in the endorsement process for the May 27 runoff election. While all the papers did not endorse in all six of the races, their voices and insights are welcome. In the statewide Democratic runoffs, the writers of Burnt Orange Report are supporting David Alameel for US Senate and Kinky Friedman for Agriculture Commissioner.

Find out who our major Texas newspapers are supporting after the jump!US Senate (D)

Newspaper Endorsed in First Round David Alameel Kesha Rogers
Houston Chronicle Alameel Alameel
Dallas Morning News Alameel Alameel
San Antonio Express-News Scherr Alameel
Fort Worth Star Telgram Alameel Alameel
Austin American Statesman Did Not Endorse Alameel
The Beaumont Enterprise Alameel Alameel

In a unanimous showing, all six newspapers are backing David Alameel over Kesha Rogers. Dr. Alameel even picked up the support of the Austin American Statesman and the San Antonio Express-News for the runoff, support he lacked in March. All the editorial boards recognized that only Mr. Alameel represents the true values of the Democratic Party while Ms. Rogers is from the fringes. The Houston Chronicle sums the race up well:

“[Alameel's] opponent in the Democratic Party primary runoff for U.S. Senate is not really a Democrat. A conspiracy theorist … Kesha Rogers throws around terms like “fascist” and “genocidal” when talking about Medicaid. She believes that President Barack Obama should be impeached for canceling the NASA Constellation program. … Yet Alameel does not have to rely on contrasts to stand out as an impressive candidate. … Alameel's focus on the issues isn't that different from what voters would expect from most moderate Democratic candidates: education, immigration and a declining middle class. But he speaks with an authority that stems from his life story.”

Lieutenant Governor (R)

Newspaper Endorsed in First Round David Dewhurst Dan Patrick
Houston Chronicle Dewhurst Dewhurst
Dallas Morning News Patterson Dewhurst
San Antonio Express-News Dewhurst Dewhurst
Fort Worth Star Telgram Dewhurst Dewhurst
Austin American Statesman Dewhurst Dewhurst
The Beaumont Enterprise Patterson Dewhurst

For Lieutenant Governor, the endorsements are again unanimous. All six newspapers have endorsed incumbent Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst for re-election over State Senator Dan Patrick. The Dallas Morning News and Beaumont Enterprise both endorsed Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson in the primary, voicing a desire for a change in the office. However, between Dewhurst and Patrick, they both recognize it would be better to keep the incumbent than to give the nomination to someone as extreme as Dan Patrick. The Dallas Morning News summed up their change of support back to the incumbent over Patrick by simply concluding: “History matters, and we'll take Dewhurst's here in a heartbeat.”

Attorney General (R)

Newspaper Endorsed in First Round Dan Branch Ken Paxton
Houston Chronicle Branch Branch
Dallas Morning News Branch Branch
San Antonio Express-News Branch Branch
Fort Worth Star Telgram Branch Branch
Austin American Statesman Branch Branch
The Beaumont Enterprise Branch Branch

No change here. All six of these editorial boards backed State Rep. Dan Branch in the first round and all six are standing with their man. Branch finished in second place in the primary to State Senator Ken Paxton, meaning he will need more than support than establishment newspapers to make up the gap between him and his primary opponent.

Agriculture Commissioner (D)

Newspaper Endorsed in First Round Kinky Friedman Jim Hogan Neither Did Not Endorse
Houston Chronicle Fitzsimons Neither Candidate
Dallas Morning News Fitzsimons Friedman
San Antonio Express-News Fitzsimons Hogan
Fort Worth Star Telgram Did Not Endorse Did Not Endorse
Austin American Statesman Did Not Endorse Did Not Endorse
The Beaumont Enterprise Fitzsimons Hogan

Well, Democrats really put themselves in a bind in this race. Because many Democrats went to vote without being fully informed of their options, the candidate originally supported by all the editorial boards first round, where an endorsement was made, did not make it to the runoff. Perhaps the Austin American Statesman and Fort Worth Star Telegram should consider endorsing in all races so more voters have a better opportunity to make informed choices and we are less likely to be left with such weak options. Options so weak, the Houston Chronicle could not reccomend either candidate claiming they were both terrible options. The San Antonio Express-News and Beaumont Enterprise chose to support Jim Hogan because of how poor of an option they knew Kinky Friedman would be while the Dallas Morning News is backing Friedman because they knew something about Friedman while Hogan would not provide any information about himself.

Agriculture Commissioner (R)

Newspaper Endorsed in First Round Tommy Merritt Sid Miller Did Not Endorse
Houston Chronicle Opiela Merritt
Dallas Morning News Carnes Merritt
San Antonio Express-News Carnes Merritt
Fort Worth Star Telgram Did Not Endorse Did Not Endorse
Austin American Statesman Did Not Endorse Did Not Endorse
The Beaumont Enterprise Opiela Merritt

For the Republicans, something similar happened in their race for Agriculture Commissioner. While all the papers supported either Eric Opiela or J. Allen Carnes in the primary, neither made the runoff. However, all endorsing editorial boards recognized former State Rep. Tommy Merritt is a cut above his former colleague Sid Miller.

Railroad Commissioner (R)

Newspaper Endorsed in First Round Wayne Christian Ryan Sitton Did Not Endorse
Houston Chronicle Sitton Sitton
Dallas Morning News Sitton Sitton
San Antonio Express-News Boyuls Did Not Endorse
Fort Worth Star Telgram Did Not Endorse Did Not Endorse
Austin American Statesman Did Not Endorse Did Not Endorse
The Beaumont Enterprise Sitton Sitton

Three of the newspapers endorsed energy executive Ryan Sitton in the primary; those same three are standing by their original choice for the runoff. The San Antonio Express-News endorsed Malachi Boyuls in the initial primary but has declined to endorse for the runoff. The other two papers are holding steady and continue to ignore this race to their reader's peril.

Early voting ended on Friday. Election Day is Tuesday, May 27 with polls open across Texas from 7:00 am until 7:00 pm local time. Because there are statewide runoffs, for both parties, voting will occur in every county across Texas. A Texas voter does not have to have participated in the March primary to vote in the runoffs, but must vote in the same party's primary if one did vote in the primary and wishes to vote in the runoff.

You can follow me on Twitter at @trowaman.

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 still enjoy the data behind elections and enjoys sharing his knowledge of how to win elections in naturally unfriendly turf with others. Joseph is an avid archer and enjoys Star Wars and DC Comics.

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