Ted Cruz shakes hands with David Dewhurst at a debate in Dallas. (AP photo)
U.S. Senate – Republican
The last hours before Tuesday’s runoff have, no doubt, been tough for Lt. David Dewhurst’s campaign. A Politico article all but declared Republican rival Ted Cruz the party’s nominee for U.S. Senate, followed by a new survey from Public Policy Polling showing Cruz leading 52-42.
That same poll showed just how far Gov. Rick Perry – one of Dewhurst’s biggest supporters in the primary – has fallen in public opinion since his failed presidential bid. Thirty-five percent of respondents said that endorsement would make them less likely to vote for Dewhurst.
A big name on Cruz’s endorsement list is Sarah Palin. The poll showed 31 percent of voters were more likely to support a candidate if she endorsed him.
Still, runoff elections are often unpredictable. While Cruz has the momentum in this ultra-conservative race, an internal poll from Dewhurst’s campaign shows the lieutenant governor up by five percent – 48-43.
U.S. Senate – Democrat
Former Texas House member Paul Sadler was up against three opponents in the May primary. The man who he ended up facing in the runoff is someone who really made no effort to put together a statewide campaign – Grady Yarbrough, a 75-year-old retired educator.
In a state dominated by Republican politics (they hold every statewide office), the ballot count will be telling in just how many Democrats hope their efforts will lead to a victory in November.
However, with Texas’ growing Hispanic population, some politicos have predicted a shift in Texas politics. But don’t count on it anytime soon.
Texas Senate District 25 – Republican
GOP candidates have been campaigning hard in the last few weeks across this newly redrawn, X-shaped district running from South Austin to North San Antonio, and from Seguin to Boern.
State Sen. Jeff Wentworth faces a challenge from emergency-room physician Donna Campbell. Wentworth has held this seat for almost 20 years, while Campbell recently relocated to New Braunfels to live within the district’s boundaries.
The primary for this position was one of the most brutal in the state. Before May’s Election Day, Wentworth and former Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones were involved heavily in a TV ad war, even a lawsuit.
To the surprise of many, Jones came in third, leaving Campbell to compete in the dead-of-summer runoff – a time when garnering votes is perhaps its most challenging.
Railroad Commission, Place 1 – Republican
Two of three seats on the state’s major regulator of the oil and gas industry are up for the taking. Environmental regulations and tech upgrades have risen to the top of issues in the Railroad Commission race, thus far.
Gov. Rick Perry appointed Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman to a seat vacated when Michael Williams left to run for Congress. Now, Smitherman faces Greg Parker, a Comal County commissioner
Railroad Commission, Place 2 – Republican
If you follow Texas politics, the two people squaring off for another seat on the Railroad Commission should be familiar. Christi Craddick is the daughter of former House Speaker Tom Craddick. She led the primary, followed by longtime state Rep. Warren Chisum.
Craddick, a lawyer, has suggested Chisum’s energy background could be a conflict of interest for the agency. Chisum has been critical of a $300,000 contribution from Tom Craddick to his daughter’s campaign.
Travis County Constable, Precinct 2 – Democrat
One of the nastiest races in Central Texas has strangely played out like a statewide campaign. Travis County Constable Adan Ballesteros faces Michael Cargill in this North Austin rivalry.
A constable is responsible for serving misdemeanor warrants and tasked with a handful of other local civil and criminal duties. However, this battle has largely distracted voters from those items.
So far, the candidates have accused each other of aiding in cocaine trafficking and criminal theft. They have also pointed out previous arrests and plastered negative signs throughout the city.
Texas Supreme Court, Place 4 – Republican
Justice David Medina has a strong challenger in John Devine, a former district judge and congressional candidate. To make matters more difficult for the incumbent, Medina also has a string of recent legal troubles weighing him down ahead of the runoff – including a drunk driving charge (ended in a hung jury) and indictments (eventually dismissed) stemming from a fire at his home in Houston.
Still, a State Bar preference poll showed Texas lawyers would still choose Medina over his opponent. Devine has his own history of arrests at anti-abortion rallies, not to mention he was a judge who pushed placing an image of the Ten Commandments in the courtroom.
The winner of this race will automatically take office in January, since no Democrat filed.
State Board of Education, District 10 – Republican
Two educators face off in this race, both expected to be a good fit for the position in a tough financial time for schools statewide.
Rebecca Osborne is a teacher at McNeil High School in the Round Rock Independent School District. Tom Maynard is a former teacher and member of the Florence school board.