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Texas Has Its Field of Candidates For The 2018 Primaries

The field for the 2018 elections crystallized Monday evening when Texas’ month-long candidate filing period came to a relatively quiet close, and U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold is under more pressure after The New York Times published a report in which former staffers alleged the congressman bullied aides and had a volatile temper

THE STAGE IS SET 

When Monday’s curtains closed, almost every major statewide official — all Republicans — faced no serious opposition for 2018. The most prominent primary race already appears to be the one for land commissioner — the office Republican George P. Bush holds, but that his predecessor, Jerry Patterson, wants back.

Attorney General Ken Paxton — who has been under indictment most of his first term — is not facing a primary opponent, and neither is Comptroller Glenn Hegar.

State Sen. Royce West, an eight-term Democrat from Dallas, is the only senator out of 15 up for re-election who has no primary or general election opponent. Six Republicans — Bob Hall of Edgewood, Charles Schwertner of Georgetown, Craig Estes of Wichita Falls, Kel Seliger of Amarillo, Donna Campbell of New Braunfels and Joan Huffman of Houston — have primary challengers.

In the Texas House, around 35 of the 150 races have incumbents — mainly Democrats — who are not facing a primary or general election race.

 

A FEW NOTEWORTHY DEVELOPMENTS 

  • Former state Rep. Norma Chavez, D-El Paso, announced she was joining the Democratic race for the seat held by U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, who’s challenging U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
  • Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick was handed her first primary challenge in Weston Martinez, who ran an unsuccessful bid for a seat on the commission last year.
  • Jim Hogan, the 2014 Democratic nominee for agriculture commissioner, filed to run on the GOP ticket this time, joining longtime lobbyist Trey Blocker in challenging current Commissioner Sid Miller for the party nomination.

 

ON THE HORIZON 

Early voting for the March 6 primaries opens up 10 weeks from today, and the rest of December is mainly in the rearview mirror as far as political purposes go, thanks to the holidays. Campaign cash could make a difference in state races, writes Ross Ramsey in his column today, but contenders without much money — such as Patterson — are attaching minimal importance to it.

 

FARENTHOLD UNDER PRESSURE 

U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, appears to be readying for a re-election bid despite growing controversy around allegations of sexual harassment.

In addition to news of his using $84,000 in taxpayer funds to settle a 2014 sexual harassment claim, a report late Monday night from The New York Timesinterviewed former Farenthold staffers who described a hostile working environment for women, where the congressman bullied employees and delivered “off-color jokes and inappropriate banter.”

Farenthold has repeatedly denied the allegations against him, and some of his closest allies in the Texas political realm were still backing him as of Monday afternoon. 

Six Republicans and four Democrats have launched bids for Farenthold’s seat, and the Tribune’s Abby Livingston reports that insiders are saying the congressman may find it hard to raise funds and support for what is likely to be a hard-fought primary battle amid the bad publicity.

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