With the filing deadline behind us, I wanted to post some thoughts after visiting with a prominent Republican operative who keeps a close eye on legislative races.
–Two trends are evident in this year’s campaign. One is that this is not necessarily shaping up as a tea party year. There are a lot of Main Street Republicans running for the House of Representatives – business people and school district leaders. Some of the candidates backed by Michael Quinn Sullivan might find themselves on the losing end of races. Matt Schaefer faces a strong opponent in Tyler. The same is true for Jonathan Stickland, whose opponent in Bedford is a popular former coach and educator.
–Early concerns that Bennett Ratliff might be in for a tight primary race no longer seem to be relevant. Ratliff is well funded and should not have a problem.
–Linda Harper Brown will likely have another close race. She always does. She will face Rodney Anderson. LHB has used up most of her nine political lives. Anderson is a far right Republican. Harper Brown could win the primary but lose the general election to a Democrat, if the D’s can field a credible candidate.
–Jim Pitts’ vacated seat has several contenders. Tea party perennial T. J. Fabby is running for the seat that Pitts is vacating. Waxahachie mayor John Wray is the strongest contender.
–Senator Kel Seliger is being challenged by the former mayor of Midland. He should have the advantage based upon population. Most of the population in the district is in the Panhandle, which is good for Seliger.
–Republicans who might be in trouble for reelection: J. M. Lozano. No surprise here. The party-switcher is the Democrats’ number-one target, and he will face a strong general election challenge from attorney Kim Gonzalez. TLR may have to bail him out again. Also, Charles Perry is facing a formidable opponent in Lubbock school board president Steve Massengale. And Cindy Burkett of Sunnyvale is a Republican who is seen as vulnerable in a general election. Perhaps the most endangered Republican in the House is J. D. Sheffield. He defeated Sid Miller in 2010. Some Republicans have joined in efforts to purge Sheffield, who is a physician and a mainstream Republican. He should receive help from the Texas Medical Association.
–Jim Keffer has opposition from a tea party candidate in Hood County. This is a superconservative electorate, and Keffer has to face the additional problem of an attack by MQS and Tim Dunn. They have deep pockets. Keffer has a serious fight on his hands. Other than Keffer, I perceive no threats to Straus committee chairs. Byron Cook’s opponent is a hardy perennial, and no real threat. Retirements, rather than races, have eroded Straus’s list of loyalists.
–I shudder to think what will become of the Texas Senate if Van Taylor, Paul Bettencourt, and Don Huffines win their races for a seat in the upper chamber. The Senate could be even more conservative than it was last session, and that’s saying a lot.