Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: email@example.com
Today is primary runoff day in Texas and, while we don't have the suspense of a gubernatorial contest (thanks to Kay Bailey Hutchison's implosion), there are a couple of races I'm watching. Here were the two that stood out in Texas Tribune's summary of the action:
Both parties are closely following the GOP runoff for Texas Supreme Court. The legal establishment is, for the most part, rooting against Rick Green and in favor of Debra Lehrmann, a Fort Worth judge with years of experience on the bench. Democrats are hoping Green's the candidate -- only because they think he would be easier to beat in the general election.
The former state legislator draws a lot of support from grassroots Republicans and some antipathy from the establishment in the party. The Democratic angle: Green, who carries some ethical baggage, won't be the sort of candidate general election voters want to see. Further, Democrats see the court seat as among their best chances to get back into statewide office for the first time in [sic] 1998, along with the open seat on the Texas Railroad Commission that resulted when David Porter ousted Victor Carrillo in the Republican primary.
In another contest to watch, the battle for a State Board of Education seat pits Brian Russell, a favorite of social conservatives, against Marsha Farney, a career educator, in a GOP runoff. That seat, in District 10, covering a large swath of Central Texas, is currently held by Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, a leading social conservative on the board who is not seeking re-election. It's been a relatively low-profile race, but it offers voters another chance to drop their oars into the politics of the state board, a body so reliably weird it should have a listing in state tour guides.
In the first round of voting, the Supreme Court race truly was wide open. No one took more than 19% of the vote and five candidates took at least 16% of the vote. So, that one looks completely unpredictable to me.
In the Board of Education race, both Russell and Farney sound like conservatives, though Russell comes across as more of a movement conservative. I've seen the third-place candidate in the first round of voting, Rebecca Osborne, described as a moderate. You'd think that Osborne's supporters would go to Farney, giving her the nomination (Russell only led by 3 points in the first round of voting), but, with completely different turnout dynamics this time around, the situation might not be quite that simple.
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