The White Republican Ticket
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UPDATE: in the original post. I incorrectly stated that Barry Smitherman had served in the Legislature. I apologize for that mistake and have corrected it.
The Republican ballot for the spring primaries is shaping up as one that is overwhelmingly white, male and, aside from Greg Abbott at the top of the ticket, largely unknown to most Texans. There are very few women on the ballot. Two women are running for seats on the Railroad Commission, including oil geologist Becky Berger and Dallas state legislator Stefani Carter, who is African American. Six candidates in all are seeking seats on the commission. In the race for Comptroller, Republicans will miss the presence of Susan Combs, a rare familiar name among the GOP hopefuls, who elected to retire rather than seek another term. Debra Medina, who ran a respectable race for governor against Rick Perry in 2010, is thought to be contemplating a race for comptroller as well, along with State Sen. Glenn Hegar, State Rep. Harvey Hilderbran, and former State Rep. Raul Torres. However, state legislators typically have very low statewide name I.D. outside of their districts. Two of the candidates for attorney general have served in the Legislature: Dan Branch and Ken Paxton; Barry Smitherman served on the Railroad Commission. Smitherman probably has the most name I.D., but is that enough to win? One very familiar name is on the ballot. It is Bush–George P. Bush, that is, who is the nephew of former governor George W. Bush. The younger Bush, a Latino, has a little-known opponent named David Watts. Bush should cruise to an easy win.The big picture here is whether the Republicans will pay a price for fielding a ticket that has no star power other than Abbott. Another high-profile race, for lieutenant governor, may or may not turn out to be one that excites the voters. On the whole, though, this does not look to me like a ticket that is going to raise a lot of enthusiasm or interest.
One exception to that could be a very competitive race for the little-noted position of Agriculture commissioner. The main candidates are Brandon Creighton, former chairman of the Republican party in the House of Representatives; Uvalde mayor Jay Allen Carnes, and South Texas rancher Eric Opiela. The race did draw one female candidate, Ona Marie Hendricks.