Election 2020

Some Houston-Area Races To Watch In The 2020 Primary

There are plenty of local races to watch. Here’s what we’re following on Super Tuesday.

There are plenty of local races to watch on Super Tuesday.

Polls close today in Harris County at 7 p.m., and when they do, there are plenty of stories to follow. What are some of those stories? Check out the list below to see what we're watching closely on Super Tuesday.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg during an April 2019 news conference in Houston.

A competitive race for district attorney?

Harris County has been trending heavily Democratic over the past few cycles, which has made local primaries the races to watch. It also means progressive Democrats are looking to move the party further to the left. That's especially true in the district attorney race, which became unexpectedly competitive in 2020.

Harris County DA Kim Ogg was elected as a progressive Democrat in 2016, but her opposition to a bail reform settlement and her push to hire more prosecutors lost her the support of some progressives.

Her challengers for the Democratic nomination include three former Harris County prosecutors — one of whom, Audia Jones, has picked up the endorsement of some groups that previously backed Ogg. And in a surprise move, last month Jones gained a high-profile endorsement from Bernie Sanders.

Other candidates running against Ogg are Carvana Cloud and Todd Overstreet. Whoever wins would challenge either former Harris County prosecutor Lori DeAngelo, former Montgomery County prosecutor Mary Nan Huffman, or Lloyd Wayne Oliver, depending on who wins the Republican primary.

Rodney Ellis faces a surprising challenge for his county commissioner’s seat.

County commissioner challenges

Other county officials are facing the heat this primary season.

Incumbent Commissioner Rodney Ellis faced a surprising primary challenge from Maria T. Jackson, a former judge, and William Dennis, better known as Willie D, a former rapper with the group Geto Boys.

But the Harris County Democratic Party declared Dennis ineligible because of a felony conviction on his record. No Republican candidate entered the race, so the primary winner will be the likely winner in November.

Political observers are watching the race for Precinct 3 closely, as six Democrats and three Republicans are vying to fill the seat following the retirement of Republican Steve Radack. Radack has held the seat since 1988, and it’s unclear whether the position could now flip from Republican to Democratic.

Sri Preston Kulkarni is running as a Democrat to represent the Texas 22nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Democrats look to make congrssional gains

This year, Texas Democrats think they have a chance to make gains in Congress, with challenges to traditionally Republican-held seats.

That includes Texas' 22nd Congressional District, largely in Fort Bend County, which has been in Republican hands for most of the last 40 years. But with demographic changes in the district — Fort Bend County is now one of the most ethnically and racially diverse in the country — Democrats have made inroads in recent county-level elections.

Fifteen Republicans hope to replace Olson, while Democrats are fielding just five candidates: Frontrunner Sri Preston Kulkarni, a former diplomat, who ran but lost against Olson in 2018; attorney Nyanza Davis Moore; and former Pearland city council member Derrick Reed. All three have named healthcare as their top priority.

In the 10th Congressional District, which stretches from northwest Houston all the way to Austin, Republican Congressman Michael McCaul beat his 2018 Democratic opponent by just four percentage points. That same year, Beto O'Rourke carried the district in his unsuccesful race to unseat incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz. And now, three Democratic candidates all hope to take on McCaul in the primary: Civil rights attorney Mike Siegel, who ran and lost against McCaul in 2018, is generally regarded as the most progressive of the candidates, winning the endorsement of four national unions; attorney Shannon Hutcheson raised more than $1 million in her bid for the nomination and won the endorsement of EMILY's List, a group working to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights; and Dr. Pritesh Gandhi, a physician at a community health clinic, raised close to $900,000 and won the endorsement of the Austin American-Statesman.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, walks through the halls on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019.

Who will challenge Dan Crenshaw?

Less likely a seat to flip for Democrats, but nonetheless a seat they're focusing on, is the one currently occupied by Rep. Dan Crenshaw. Texas' 2nd Congressional District has been in Republican hands for 15 years, since Ted Poe won the seat in 2005. Poe retired, and in the 2018 midterms, Dan Crenshaw won the race to replace him and has since become a rising star in the Republican party.

National Democrats have targeted the district as one to challenge in 2020, and now, three Democrats are vying to take on Crenshaw: Navy veteran Elisa Cardnell, former Department of Homeland Security official Travis Olsen, and attorney and activist Sima Ladjevardian, who has received the endorsement of Sylvester Turner.

Kyra Buckley, Paul DeBenedetto, Jen Rice and Andrew Schneider contributed to this report.

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