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2014 Elections

Top Ten Texas Runoffs to Watch, Part 2

by: Joseph Vogas

Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 01:00 PM CDT

On Saturday, Burnt Orange Report began the discussion of the top 10 runoffs Texas voters should watch aas Texas heads towards the May 27 runoff elections.

24 legislative and statewide runoff elections will be on the May ballot, 5 Democratic and 19 Republican. They will include 6 statewide runoffs, 3 US Congress runoffs, 2 State Senate runoffs, 11 State House runoffs, and 2 runoffs for the State Board of Education.

Click here to find out what runoffs ranked in spots 10 through 6.

Some runoffs did not crack the top 10, but are important enough to be identified as honorable mentions:
-- Agriculture Commissioner, Republican
-- Agriculture Commissioner, Democratic
-- Congressional District 23, Republican
-- Congressional District 36, Republican
-- House District 58, Republican

So, what are the runoffs taking the top 5 spots that voters need to keep a sharp eye on? Click after the jump to find out!

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Top Ten Texas Runoffs to Watch, Part 1

by: Joseph Vogas

Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 02:00 PM CDT

Most Texas primaries ended on March 4. However, in 24 statewide and legislative races, March was not the end, rather it was only the beginning.

48 candidates are still fighting on, trying to secure their party's nomination through contacting voters, raising money, and blasting members of their own party instead of their opponents for the November general election -- some of whom are likely quietly collecting cash to use against them.

Of these 24 still to-be-decided races 5 are Democratic runoffs and 19 are Republican runoffs. There are 6 statewide primaries, 3 US Congress primaries, 2 State Senate primaries, 11 State House primaries, and 2 primaries for the State Board of Education to-be-decided at this time. The Texas runoff is slated to occur on May 27 with early voting occurring from May 19 to May 23.

There are some run-offs that did not make our Top 10 list but deserve an honorable mention: Agriculture Commissioner, Republican; Agriculture Commissioner, Democratic; Congressional District 23, Republican; Congressional District 36, Republican; and House District 58, Republican.

So, which races should you be paying particular attention to as we count down towards this May's runoff election? Burnt Orange Report would be happy to be your guide.

Head below the jump for Part 1 of our look at the ten most important runoffs to watch as we head towards May 27.

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CD-23, Third Place Finisher Dr. Robert Lowry Endorses Will Hurd Over Fmr. Rep. Quico Canseco

by: Joseph Vogas

Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 11:30 AM CDT

Republicans keep giving Rep. Pete Gallego a reason to smile

Democratic Congressman Pete Gallego is one of the biggest congressional targets for Republicans across the entire country. The 23rd congressional district is a rarity in America, as it is nearly evenly split in partisanship. Under the current boundaries, Barack Obama won the seat in 2008 while Mitt Romney won it in 2012. With such a closely divided district, the results of the March 4 Republican primary could not have been better for the Democratic incumbent.

Some expected former one-term Republican Congressman Quico Canseco to run away with the nomination; however that did not happen. Rather he finished in what was almost a tie with 2010 candidate Will Hurd.

In fact, Hurd finished narrowly ahead of Canseco earning 10,378 votes for 41.0% while Canseco earned 40.3% of the vote with 10,219 votes. In 2010, when both candidates ran for the first time, they also ended up in a runoff with each other, where Hurd also lead by a narrow margin.

This year, there was also a third candidate running; Ron Paul acolyte Dr. Robert Lowry earned 18.7% of the vote with 4,736 votes this year. Dr. Lowry also ran in 2010 where he finished in third place of five candidates total earning 22.17% of the vote.

With close to a month and a half remaining until the runoff election is held, Dr. Lowry is throwing his support behind Will Hurd, encouraging the 18.7% of voters who supported him to back Hurd in the runoff over the former Congressman.

Read why Dr. Lowry is supporting Will Hurd and what Hurd had to say about the endorsement after the jump.

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Comptroller Candidate Mike Collier Goes up on TV; Points Out Glenn Hegar's Plan to Raise Taxes

by: Joseph Vogas

Fri Apr 04, 2014 at 11:30 AM CDT

Mike Collier, a CPA and the Democratic nominee for Texas Comptroller, is the first statewide candidate in Texas to release a television ad for the general election. In the ad, Senator Glenn Hegar, the Republican nominee for Texas Comptroller, can be seen clearly stating:

"I don't like the property tax, never had. I think we should replace it. The best thing to replace it with is a consumption-type tax, a sales tax per se."

Burnt Orange Report has previously reported on Sen. Hegar's plans to raise taxes on all Texans. If Sen. Hegar has his way, it is expected the Texas sales tax would have to be raised to between 20% and 25% from the current 6.25% to make up for the absence of the property tax.

It may seem like April is too early to go up on tv for a November general election, however, for a down ballot race, it may prove wise for Mr. Collier to start defining himself and Sen. Hegar now. As the election season progresses, it may prove difficult to secure the attention of both the voters and the Texas media than the more prominent and likely better funded races for Governor and Lieutenant Governor. In other states, Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska and Senate candidate Michelle Nunn of Georgia recently went on the offensive and released their own ads for the November general election to start defining themselves and their Republican opponents. This is what it is like to live in a battleground state.

Mr. Collier sourced much of his information from an article in the Dallas Morning News. Watch the ad below the jump and then read the sourced article to see where Mike Collier got his facts.

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New Poll Coming for Texas, But Only if You Vote For It

by: Joseph Vogas

Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 11:00 AM CDT

Progressive polling firm, Public Policy Polling (PPP) has its weekly readers' poll available for what state it should poll next. The choices this week are Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Rhode Island, and Texas. The state that receives the most votes will be polled over the weekend by PPP to be published in the middle of the next week. Last night, Nebraska led with 29% of the vote, while Texas was tied for second with Michigan at 18% each.

The last time PPP looked at Texas it was the first weekend of November. On the question of who should be elected Governor of Texas, PPP found Attorney General Greg Abbott led Sen. Wendy Davis by a margin of 50% - 35%. It has been over four months since this poll was taken and a lot has changed in Texas politics, including Sen. Davis' constant barrage of attacks upon Abbott. on the topic of equal pay. The most recent independent poll of Texas voters by the Texas Research Institute found Sen. Davis trailing by seven points, half of what PPP found in early November. The best way to find out if there is real momentum behind Sen. Davis would be for PPP to check again.

PPP often asks about multiple races when they go into the field. It is likely they will also ask about the races for Lieutenant Governor, US Senate, and several of the pending runoffs. They may also ask about Texan's preferences among local sports teams or preferences on hot topic social issues. But PPP will only ask about Texas if people vote for our state over the other options before this weekend.

Vote for Texas in PPP's weekly readers' poll here!

Click after the jump to review where things stood according to PPP in early November.

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Who Needs a General Election? 20 More Texas Representatives Were Re-Elected by Default Last Week

by: Joseph Vogas

Thu Mar 13, 2014 at 01:30 PM CDT

Last January, I reported on 43 members of the Texas House who, after filing, would face no opponent through all of 2014. Now, with the 2014 primaries concluded, 20 more candidates for the Texas House have secured their elections and will be voting Representatives in 2015.

In the previous article, there was some concern that gerrymandering was a cause for many legislators receiving no challenger. I reject that idea because while the major parties face challenges recruiting and paying filing fees to compete in some districts, third parties who only have to contribute a name and no filing fee, pull support evenly across the state.

Of the new group of Representatives-elect, 8 are Democrats and 12 are Republicans. This brings the Democratic caucus up to 31 members who face no further electoral challengers, or 56.36% of the caucus. 32 Republican members, 33.68% of the caucus, will also face no further challengers.

All candidates for statewide offices, US Congress, Texas Senate, and the State Board of Education will face another candidate in November's general election.

A complete list of all candidates who have filed can be seen in Burnt Orange Report's candidate trackers:

- Statewide Offices
- US Congress
- Texas Senate
- Texas House
- State Board of Education

See the list of all the new Texas Representatives-elect who lack any further opposition after the jump.

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Nominated: Mary Gonzalez and 7 Other Incumbent House Democrats Clear Primary Challenges on March 4

by: Joseph Vogas

Thu Mar 13, 2014 at 11:30 AM CDT

Rep. Mary Gonzalez was one of eight Democrats to secure re-nomination to the Texas House last week
While twenty-two races for the Republican nomination to the Texas House concluded last week, eight Democratic nominations wrapped, as well. Only one incumbent Democrat, Craig Eiland, decided not to seek re-election and only one Democrat filed to replace him in the 2014 election. Two other incumbent Democrats lost their primaries last week. The eight other incumbents who faced primary challenges beat challengers, all by wide margins.

Highlighting the group of victors is freshman Representative Mary Gonzalez a Burnt Orange Report endorsed candidate, of El Paso County's District 75. When elected, Gonzalez was the first member of the LGBT community to be elected openly to their first term. Challenging her was Rey "Coach" Sepulveda, a former member of the Fabens school board. While Sepulveda had held elected office in the past, he ran a lean campaign; raising just over $1,000 for the entire race. Gonzalez, who was named the Mexican American Legislative Conference's Freshman of the Year, breezed to victory with 68.88%. No other candidate filed for House District 75, so Rep. Gonzalez was re-elected to a full term, by default, on March 4.

Rep. Gonzalez was not alone in beating back Democratic primary challenges. Learn more about the seven other victors after the jump.

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Nominated: Speaker Joe Straus One of Twenty-Two Republicans to Win Primaries for Texas House

by: Joseph Vogas

Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 11:30 AM CDT

Speaker Straus may be coming back to the Texas House, but so is Jonathan Stickland, and Stickland has more new friends

On primary night, twenty-two Republican primaries for the Texas House concluded with nominees selected for the November general election. Among the nominees are sixteen incumbent Representatives who beat back challengers, three Republicans who will be running for seats currently held by Democrats, and three more Republicans who are running for seats left open by retiring Republican members. Two of those last three nominees are now Representatives-elect as they face no further electoral challengers in the November general election.

Notably, Speaker Joe Straus once again beat back Matt Beebe, a conservative activist supported by conservative special interest groups who believe Straus has not governed as a true conservative. Straus went into the election with nearly a $6 million advantage and beat Beebe in the 2012 primary as well. With all that, it was no surprise when Straus won this year, as well. However, based on the size of Straus' financial advantage, it is interesting that he won with only 61.22%. Then again, if Staus had polling pointing to a win, the margin probably did not matter much to him; elected officials do not get extra powers or days in office based on the size of their win margins.

Take a look after the jump to see who will represent the Republican party in the twenty-one other contests that were decided last week.

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4 Candidates, All Republicans, File for Special Election to Replace Tommy Williams in Texas Senate

by: Joseph Vogas

Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 01:00 PM CDT

Rep. Steve Toth (left), Rep. Brandon Creighton (center), and Gordy Bunch (right) are three of the four Republicans to file for the special election in Texas' Senate District 4
Last October, Sen. Tommy Williams (R) announced he planned to resign from the Texas Senate rather than serve out the remainder of his term. The special election to replace him will occur on May 10, with early voting occurring from April 28 until May 6. Senate District 4 covers southeast Texas and includes all of Chambers and Jefferson counties and portions of Galveston, Montgomery, and Harris counties.

Monday, March 10 was the filing deadline to run in the special election for Senate District 4. Filing to replace Sen. Williams are Republicans State Rep. Brandon Creighton, State Rep. Steve Toth, former Texas Senator Michael Galloway, and businessman Gordy Bunch. Reps. Creighton and Toth announced months ago they would not seek re-election to their seats in the Texas House and would instead run in the pending special election and are considered the frontrunners. Sen. Galloway has been a frequent candidate for Senate District 4, he has been a candidate for the office in 1992, 1994, 1998, 2002, and 2008. The 2014 special election will be Michael Galloway's sixth bid for the office. He won the Republican nomination in 1992, 1994, and 1998 and only won the general election in 1994.

Rice University Political Scientist Mark Jones identified Reps. Creighton and Toth as having similarly conservative records. Toth, however, is likely to be viewed as the favorite among movement conservatives because he ousted an incumbent Representative in the 2012 Republican primary and Creighton held the position of majority leader within Speaker Straus' leadership team. As of the end or December, Creighton has the financial edge over all other candidates, but as was saw in this year's primaries, so long as one candidate has enough funds to compete, that candidate can win.

No Democratic or third party candidates filed to run for the seat. If no candidate receives more than 50.0%, a runoff will be necessary. Whomever wins the special election will hold the seat until it is up for its normal election in 2016.

Last week The Texas Observer wrote up an excellent recap of this race, before Sen. Galloway's entrance. Learn more about the candidates and how they will likely push the Texas Senate further right from the Texas Observer after the jump.

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Nominated: Social Conservative David Bradley (R) Beats Moderate, Again, for Seat on SBOE

by: Joseph Vogas

Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 00:00 PM CDT

It's okay, Mr. Bradley, we feel the same way about your re-nomination
Of the three primary elections for the Texas State Board of Education, two are heading to a May runoff. The only primary race for the State Board of Education that was decided last Tuesday was in southeast Texas' 7th district where educator Rita Ashley fell short in her challenge to incumbent social conservative David Bradley.

Ashley, who also challenged David Bradley in the Republican primary 2012, earned 44.70% in 2014, a 2.59% improvement from two years prior. Ashley has been a clerk for the Texas House Committee on Public Education, a schoolroom teacher, and an education policy advisor. Ashley also had several incumbent Republican legislators, Sen. Robert Nichols, Rep. Ritter, Rep. Dennis Bonnen, and Rep. John Otto, endorse her campaign to oust the incumbent.

David Bradley has held his seat on the State Board since 1996 and has been one of the Board's most controversial, current members. Bradley opposes sex education, rejects the theory of evolution, and does not believe in the separation of church and state. Had Ashley been successful, her win would have significantly moderated the State Board of Education. Ashley outspent Bradley by a near ten-to-one margin, but the Republican primary voters of southeast Texas were not interested in a reasonable message.

District 7 includes Brazoria, Chambers, Galveston, Hardin, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Newton, Orange, Sabine, San Augustine, Tyler and parts of Fort Bend County.

The Beaumont Enterprise knew Rita Ashley was the most qualified Republican running for the position this year. Read what they had to say about why she was acceptable and David Bradley was unqualified to serve on the State Board of Education after the jump.  

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