To the winners, congratulations. To the runners up, better luck next time. And to those in the runoffs, see you at the end of May.
So let's review the big races left to be decided and where we stand:
U.S. House of Representatives, District 36: Ben Streusand
This race to succeed Steve Stockman in District 36 appears to be headed to a rural versus urban showdown between 66 year-old dentist Brian Babin who lives in rural Tyler County and Ben Streusand, a grassroots activist, entrepreneur and radio commentator who lives in Harris County. Streusand's strength in Harris County, where he won a decisive number of the county's nearly 16,000 cast votes, makes him a formidable candidate in the runoff campaign. The question is whether or not Streusand can pick up enough votes to offset Babin's first place showing in the remaining eight, mostly rural, counties.
Lieutenant Governor: Dan Patrick
Senator Dan Patrick, under the steady guiding hand of campaign consultant Allen Blakemore, ran a near textbook campaign against well-funded incumbent David Dewhurst. Early chatter from both inside and outside the Dewhurst campaign had some predicting a Dewhurst victory without a runoff, which makes the reversal of fortune even more remarkable, with Patrick coming within striking distance of winning without a runoff with 42% of the votes compared with the 28% share captured by the incumbent Lt. Governor.
Comptroller: Harvey Hilderbran
At the moment, this race appears to be going to a runoff by the slimmest of margins with State Senator Glenn Hegar kept from an outright victory by 1/10 of 1% of the vote. I say "at the moment" since Hegar's primary battle score of 49.99% of the vote could be pushed past the 50% threshold by 3300 provisional votes still pending. If the runoff stands though, Harvey Hilderbran will have to get to work immediately in the looming uphill battle.
Agriculture Commissioner: Tommy Merritt
With 21% of the vote, entrepreneur and former State Representative Tommy Merritt earned a second place finish and a spot in the runoff election with former State Representative Sid Miller, who finished first with nearly 35%. This is anybody's race to win now that the field of five has been narrowed to two.
State Representative Dist. 129: Dennis Paul
Businessman and grassroots activist Dennis Paul (25.13%) faces fellow SREC member Sheryl Berg (25.57%) in what is sure to be an exciting race following the primary election where the two competitors finished just 45 votes apart in an eclectic field of seven candidates.
State Representative Dist. 132: Mike Schofield
The four-way race to succeed retiring State Representative Bill Callegari narrows to two, with Mike Schofield, a veteran policy advisor to Governor Perry, narrowly missing advancing without a runoff by garnering 44.61% of the vote. Schofield impressed District 132 residents with his extensive public policy acumen and his relentless block walking. TCR loves his "shoe leather" campaign to meet voters belly-to-belly. He definitely sets the bar high for Ann Hodge, who finished a distant second with 19.47% of the vote, and faces Schofield in the May 27th runoff election.
District Judge 247th District: M L Walker
Judge M.L. Walker took the runner-up spot with 33.73% compared to John Schmude's 36.45% first place finish. Both worked hard in the first round and will undoubtedly make this a hard-fought second round fight.
Family District Judge 311th District: Alicia Franklin
Alicia Franklin, TCR's pick for the 311th District Court, will now face embattled Judge Denise Pratt, assuming that she survives the growing clamor for her resignation amid charges of legal impropriety. Garnering less than 30% of the vote as an incumbent judge bodes well for the challenger, Franklin, who finished with a respectable 23% in a field of 5 candidates.
County Criminal Court at Law No. 10: Dan Jeffrey Spjut
Attorney and former HPD Lieutenant Dan Spjut had a strong first place showing with 40.56%, finishing far ahead of his nearest rival, Tonya Rolland McLaughlin with 29%.
Justice of the Peace Pct. 4, Place 2: Laryssa Korduba
In another near miss, Judge Laryssa Korduba nearly secured a victory on the first ballot with nearly 49% of the vote. She will now face failed Harris County Sheriff candidate Louis Guthrie, whose 28% of the vote earned him the second place finish in Tuesday's contest.
Congratulations To TCR Endorsed Candidates
By Marc Cowart, Managing Editor
TCR would like to congratulate our endorsed candidates listed below who won outright following the March 4th Primary Election.
US Senate: John Cornyn - Won
Despite a challenge by seven opponents, Senator Cornyn still managed a decisive victory on the first ballot with almost 60% of the vote. The fact that the senior senator drew heavy opposition that managed to peel off over 40% of the vote against an overwhelming war chest and the power of incumbency should give Senator Cornyn a reason to pause and mend his relationship with those who find fault with him before the general election campaign against the Democrat challenger commences.
Governor: Greg Abbott - Won
No surprise here that Greg Abbott won big with 91.5% of the vote. Now, let the race against Wendy Davis begin!
Land Commissioner: George P. Bush - Won
Like the Abbott race, no surprise here. The newest and extremely impressive member of the legendary Bush family can now set his sights on November and beyond.
Court of Criminal Appeals PL 3: Bert Richardson - Won (60.38%)
Court of Criminal Appeals PL 4: Kevin Patrick Yeary - Won (54.68%)
Court of Criminal Appeals PL 9: David Newell - Won (52.27%)
State Senator District 7: Paul Bettencourt - Won
Bettencourt's popularity and electoral supremacy were once again confirmed with a staggering 89% to 11% landslide victory. Somebody needs to figure out how to bottle that brand of Mojo!
State Senator District 17: Joan Huffman - Won (81%)
The incumbent Huffman easily vanquished her opponent in this important Senate race. The popular former judge is appreciated by her constituents, with her 'calls it as she sees it' style.
State Representative Dist. 150: Debbie Riddle - Won (75%)
The consummate conservative and popular incumbent State Representative Debbie Riddle beat back her primary challenger with a 75% to 25% stomping.
District Judge 246th District: Charley Prine - Won
Associate Judge Charley Prine cruised to victory with 78.43% of the vote.
District Judge 263rd District: Jim Wallace - Won
Veteran and well-respected Judge Jim Wallace scored a resounding 15-point decisive victory over challenger Robert Summerlin, who has now collected two electoral defeats, the first in 2012.
District Clerk: Chris Daniel - Won
The voters validated Chris Daniel's hard work, effectiveness and bold improvements at the office of District Clerk during his first term by handing him a huge 69% to 31% victory over Court Koenning.
County Treasurer: Orlando Sanchez - Won
The popular County Treasurer easily won re-election with 70% of the vote.
County School Trustee At Large Place 5: Mike Wolfe - Won
Mike Wolfe, who was narrowly benched by his Democrat challenger in 2012, came back with a vengeance, thrashing his opponent R.W. Bray by a 62% to 38% margin.
Justice of the Peace Pct. 5, Place 2: Jeff Williams - Won
Incumbent Judge Jeff Williams blew past his challenger Erik Michael Hassan with over 91% of the vote.
With the elimination of Barry Smitherman from the Attorney General race, State Representative Dan Branch (33.49%) will now face State Representative Ken Paxton (44.44%) in the race to succeed Greg Abbott. Three spots down the runoff ballot, State Representative Wayne Christian (42.68%) will battle Houston area businessman Ryan Sitton (30.52%) for the seat vacated by Barry Smitherman on the Texas Railroad Commission. In both of these races, TCR will be announcing endorsements soon, so stay "tuned in" for the breaking news.
Harris County GOP: It's Time To Come Together
The long bitter race for HCRP Chair is over, and Paul Simpson prevailed. Parlaying a six to one finance advantage, an effective campaign that had a good GOTV effort and radio advertising spearheaded by County Judge Ed Emmett resulted in a successful campaign.
Jared Woodfill should be thanked for his twelve plus years of service in a job many call "thankless."
So, some free advice to the new HCRP leadership:
- Try to have as friendly a transition as possible;
- Reach out to the different factions in the party that didn't support you;
- Expand the leadership, creating multiple vice chairs;
- Look forward, not backward;
- Always be raising money;
- Reboot the use of precinct chairs so they are effective in identifying and turning out our votes;
- Focus on what unites and not what divides us as without both social and fiscal conservatives in our party we will win few and far between elections.
- Revitalize a young leadership program and reboot party activities to reflect the digital age and its impact on involvement in organizations. One size does not fit all.
For the supporters of both sides, be thankful there's no runoff. Let's unify and work together for victory in November.
A Continuing Series: Part 1,
The First 10 of 50 Reasons We Are Living
In The Greatest Period In World History
TCR Comment: Morgan Housel at the Motley Fool website recently put together a fascinating list of the reasons we are in good shape. We will put 10 reasons out each issue until we get to 50.
A Note To 'Fiscal Conservatives'
- U.S. life expectancy at birth was 39 years in 1800, 49 years in 1900, 68 years in 1950, and 79 years today. The average newborn today can expect to live an entire generation longer than his great-grandparents could.
- A full pandemic in 1918 infected 500 million people and killed as many as 100 million. In his book The Great Influenza, John Barry describes the illness as if "someone were hammering a wedge in your skull just behind the eyes, and body aches so intense they felt like bones breaking." Today, you can go to Safeway and get a flu shot. It costs just 15 bucks. You might feel a little poke.
- In 1950, 23 people per 100,000 Americans died each year in traffic accidents, according to the Census Bureau. That fell to 11 per 100,000 by 2009. If the traffic mortality rate had not declined, 37,800 more Americans would have died last year than actually did. In the time it will take you to read this article, one American is alive who would have died in a car accident 60 years ago.
- In 1949, Popular Mechanics magazine made the bold prediction that someday a computer could weigh less than 1 ton. I wrote this sentence on an iPad that weighs 0.73 pounds.
- The average American now retires at age 62. One hundred years ago, the average American died at age 51. Enjoy your golden years -- your ancestors didn't get any of them.
- In his 1770s book The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith wrote: "It is not uncommon in the highlands of Scotland for a mother who has borne 20 children not to have 2 alive." Infant mortality in America has dropped from 58 per 1,000 births in 1933 to less than six per 1,000 births in 2010, according to the World Health Organization. There are about 11,000 births in America each day, so this improvement means more than 200,000 infants now survive each year who wouldn't have 80 years ago. That's like adding a city the size of Boise, Idaho, every year.
- America averaged 20,919 murders per year in the 1990s, and 16,211 per year in the 2000s, according to the FBI. If the murder rate had not fallen, 47,000 more Americans would have been killed in the last decade than actually were. That's more than the population of Biloxi, Miss.
- Despite a surge in airline travel, there were half as many fatal plane accidents in 2012 than there were in 1960, according to the Aviation Safety Network.
- 9. No one has died from a new nuclear weapon attack since 1945. If you went back to 1950 and asked the world's smartest political scientists, they would have told you the odds of seeing that happen would be close to 0%. You don't have to be very imaginative to think that the most important news story of the past 70 years is what didn't happen. Congratulations, world.
- People worry that the U.S. economy will end up stagnant like Japan's. Next time you hear that, remember that unemployment in Japan hasn't been above 5.6% in the past 25 years, its government corruption ranking has consistently improved, incomes per capita adjusted for purchasing power have grown at a decent rate, and life expectancy has risen by nearly five years. I can think of worse scenarios.
From A Social Conservative
By Dennis Prager
TCR Comment: Prager is an astute commentator and radio host on the Salem Network (1070 AM in Houston), and he gets it. He is right. In the GOP, fiscal and social conservatives need each other to be successful.
If there were as many "fiscal conservatives" as there are people who claim to be, it is hard to see how Republicans would lose as many elections as they do.
One frequently hears this political self-identification: "I'm socially liberal, but fiscally conservative." Or, "If the Republicans weren't conservative on so many social issues, I would vote Republican." Or, "It's too bad the Christian Right dominates the Republican Party. I would vote for the Republicans on fiscal issues, but I can't stand the religious right."
The same sentiment holds among many inside the Republican Party. Most secular conservatives and the libertarian wing of the party agree: Let's jettison all this social stuff - most prominently opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion, and this unnecessary commitment to religion - and just stand for small government and personal liberty.
To many people these positions sound reasonable, even persuasive. They shouldn't.
To respond to the first argument, it is hard to believe that most people who call themselves fiscal conservatives and vote Democrat would abandon the Democratic Party if the Republican Party embraced same-sex marriage and abortion.
The left and its political party will always create social issues that make Republicans and conservatives look "reactionary" on social issues. Today it is same-sex marriage, the next day it is the Republican "war on women," and tomorrow it will be ending the objective male-female designation of Americans (Children should have the right to determine their gender and not have their parents and their genitalia determine it, even at birth). Or it will be animal rights, race-based affirmative action or an environmentalist issue. Concerning the latter, how many "fiscal conservatives" who vote Democrat are prepared to abandon the party on the climate change issue? I suspect very few.
Fiscally conservative Democrats are fooling themselves and others when they announce that would abandon the Democratic Party if the Republicans just weren't socially conservative. They didn't leave the Democrats before same-sex marriage was an issue and they won't leave them if same-sex marriage ceases to be an issue.
Let's turn now to God and religion, the most obvious expressions of social conservatism. There are many Americans - among secular conservatives, libertarians and secular fiscal conservatives who vote Democrat - who say that they, or many others who now vote Democrat, would vote Republican if it were not for the social conservatives in the Republican Party who are so adamant about God and religion.
This group, too, is fooling itself. Anyone who thinks that you can have smaller government - the central issue for libertarians and other fiscal conservatives - without Judeo-Christian religions and their God-based values neither understands the Founders nor human nature very well.
The entire American experiment in smaller government - and even in secular government - was based on Americans individually being actively religious. The Founders - unlike the European men of the Enlightenment then and the left today - understood that people are not basically good. That is a defining belief of Judaism as well as of Christianity. Therefore the great majority of people need moral religion and belief in accountability to a morally judging God to be good. In other words, you will either have the big God of Judaism and Christianity or the big state of the left.
Social conservatives know that they need fiscal conservatives. They know that the bigger the state, the smaller the God. They know that proponents of the ever-larger state want their own gods - like Mother Earth - to replace the Bible's God. Fiscal conservatives need to understand that they need social conservatives. They need them philosophically, for reasons explained above. And they need them politically. There will never be enough Americans who are fiscally but not socially conservative to win a national election. Sorry.
TCR on the Air
Red, White & Blue featuring TCR Editor Gary Polland, liberal commentator David Jones and moderator Linda Lorelle on Fridays at 7:30 pm on PBS Houston Channel 8.1, replaying Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. on Channel 8.1, Mondays at 11:30 pm on Channel 8.2 and on the web at www.houstonpbs.org.
Republican and Democratic Texas Primary Election reviews.
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About Your Editor
Gary Polland is a long-time conservative and Republican spokesman, fund-raiser, and leader who completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chairman. During his three terms, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events - The National Conservative Weekly. He is in his fifteenth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last twelve years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. As a public service for the last 10 years, Gary has published election guides for the GOP primary, general elections and city elections, all with the purpose of assisting conservative candidates. Gary is also in his twelfth year of co-hosting Red, White and Blue on PBS Houston. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant. He can be reached at (713) 621-6335.