Early Voting Starts Tomorrow, But Will Anybody Notice?

Early voting for next month's Republican and Democratic primaries gets underway tomorrow. The election season has seen some extremes, from intense battles among Republican candidates for statewide offices to barely a peep in other races.


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Jay Aiyer is an assistant professor of public policy at Texas Southern University. He says for Republicans, the primary fun began the day Governor Rick Perry announced he wouldn’t run for re-election.

“That was the first domino that fell and what you saw was sort of a cascading effect. So you had contested races for Lt. Governor, you had contested and open primaries for Attorney General, for Railroad Commission, and for Ag Commission and Susan Combs, the incumbent State Comptroller retired. So what you found is that you’ve got every one of these major statewide races with multiple Republican candidates in it.”

Meanwhile, the Democratic primary has been a lot more quiet, with some candidates running unopposed and others with only single opponents. Because of the intense in-fighting on the Republican side, Aiyer says some candidates have moved farther to the right than they normally would, to attract the ultra-conservative vote.

“Because of the way the primary process has been, you’re seeing increasingly even what would normally be considered classically conservative and moderate conservative candidates going even further to the right than you normally expect. You really see that in the Attorney General’s race. It’s very, very possible that you could see a situation where the Republican nominee is moved so far aggressively to the right that it creates openings for Democrats.”

For Democrats, one of those openings could be in the Governor’s office. Presumptive Democratic nominee Wendy Davis has a lot of support and even more money. Dr. Jon Taylor is chair of the political science department at the University of St. Thomas. He says both Davis and presumptive Republican nominee Greg Abbott are pretty much coasting through the primaries.

“The Davis-Abbott dynamic is really not going to start taking hold until we get to the fall.”

He says because there haven’t been many fireworks yet in that race, overall interest in the primary has been pretty low.

“When one party has dominated in politics, in this case it’s Republicans, 30-40 years ago it was Democrats, winning the party’s nomination is tantamount to winning the election, at least in some races. When it comes down to it, you’re going to see run-offs, likely in the Lt. Governor’s race, the Comptroller’s race, maybe the Attorney General’s race, I’m guessing so, on the Republican side. On the Democratic side, honestly, when you have nobody running or when you have just one person running, there’s just not going to be much interest.”

Locally, primary races that could be interesting include the Republican Race in House District 150 between incumbent Debbie Riddle and challenger Tony Noun. Another fairly contentious race has been for the Harris County Republican Party Chairmanship between incumbent Jared Woodfill and challenger Paul Simpson, who has been endorsed by Harris County Judge Ed Emmett.

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