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TAB Political Update

It was high drama Tuesday night as runoff election contests played out across the state in 39 federal and state races.   It’s now on to the general election in November.   In this TAB Political Update, we take a look at last night’s winners and losers, the match-ups in the November general election, one last chance at reviewing the FCC’s political rules and where to go for help between now and Nov. 6. 

Winners and losers

Former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz was the big winner last night, figuratively and literally.

His convincing win over Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst establishes him as a major player in Texas politics for many years to come, and he could become a national figure as well.    He now faces former State Rep. Paul Sadler, himself a spirited debater and stump speaker, who defeated habitual political also ran Grady Yarbrough in the Democratic party’s U.S. Senate runoff election.  Cruz will have money to run an effective campaign.   Sadler will not.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s future is, in a word, uncertain.    Already rebuffed for higher office by voters, he already has an announced challenger if he plans to run for current office again in 2014.  Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson announced last night that while he has great respect for Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, he is running for that office in 2014.

Physician Donna Campbell upended longtime State Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio.   Tea Party favorite Campbell was the end beneficiary of a particularly vicious battle between Wentworth and another primary challenger, former Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames-Jones.   Wentworth came out of the Ames-Jones battle with high negatives and Campbell easily defeated him by nearly 30 percent.

Four other incumbents lost their jobs last night.    Texas Supreme Ct. Justice David Medina lost to John Devine, another Tea Party favorite.   Also losing their jobs were current Texas House members  Rep. Jim Landtroop, R-Plainview; Rep. Chuck Hopson, R-Jacksonville; and Rep. Sid Miller, R-Stephenville.    Hopson and Miller are House committee chairmen.    House Speaker Joe Strauss, R-San Antonio, has now lost five committee chairmen in the primary process, but most believe he will remain Speaker when the Texas House votes on that post in January.

One should note that not all Tea Party-affiliated candidates in the runoff election won their races.   Former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams defeated Tea Party favored Wes Riddle in the battle for CD 25.   Christi Craddick, daughter of former House Speaker Tom Craddick, defeated current St. Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, by nearly 20 percent for a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission.

On the Democratic side of the equation, two U.S. House races garnered much attention.    Current State Rep. Marc Veasey of Fort Worth defeated former State Rep. Domingo Garcia of Dallas in the race for a new DFW area congressional seat, CD 33.   Another D congressional battle featured the same theme – a large district weighted at two ends, in this case, San Antonio and rural West Texas.   In the race for CD 23, current State Rep. Pete Gallego of Alpine knocked off former Congressman Ciro Rodriguez, D-San Antonio.   Chairman Gallego garnered the endorsement of San Antonio mayor Julian Castro.    Rodriguez got the nod from former President Bill Clinton.

Looking ahead to the November general election

TAB has prepared a list of November general election races that includes all contested statewide and congressional offices as well as the contested seats in the Texas Senate and Texas House.  The list is posted in the Legal Guides / Members section of the TAB website. 

It does not include county or state district judge races in your area, but that information is readily available from your local county clerk’s office.  To be certain you are aware of all contested races for your locale, be sure to contact all of the counties in your audience area.

What’s the outlook for political ad dollars?

A cash strapped Paul Sadler will now face a heavily favored and well financed Ted Cruz in the fall.   Sadler will give Cruz a much more spirited debate than David Dewhurst, but Sadler simply does not have, nor can he attract, the kind of funds necessary to run an effective statewide campaign.    Texas is not a battleground state, so little national “D” money will flow in to help D candidates, including Sadler.   Stations will likely see some Cruz ad dollars but little Sadler ad money.

A few of the Congressional races could spark some interest.   While there are some open seats, they have been drawn to favor one party over the other.   That being said, some races already sparking some buzz include:

CD 14 - The seat being vacated by U.S, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Lake Jackson, features a battle between former Congressman Nick Lampson, D-Houston, and Republican Randy Weber who just won a runoff election against Felicia Harris.

CD 23 - Incumbent U.S. Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco, R-San Antonio, now faces State Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine.   Canseco has a war chest, but Gallego seriously depleted his to win last night’s runoff election with former Congressman Ciro Rodriguez.

The Texas Senate districts are pretty safely drawn to favor the current incumbent. There is one race that could generate some excitement.

SD 10 - While Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Ft. Worth, was able to reverse (with a court’s help) much of the rearranging of her district, she still faces a significant general election challenge in the form of current State Rep. Mark Shelton, R-Ft. Worth.

There are 62 contested Texas House races left in the fall, but most of these are districts that are drawn to favor one party over another.   Such races will see little spending.   Only about a dozen or so are truly competitive and therefore may see some political ad spending by candidates.   These include:

HD 23 -  Incumbent Rep. Craig Eiland, D-Galveston, facing Republican Wayne Faircloth

HD 34 -  A Corpus Christi rematch between Rep. Connie Scott and former State Rep. Abel Herrero, D-Portland

HD 41 -  An open seat battle in the RGV between Democrat Robert “Bobby” Guerra and Republican Miriam Martinez

HD 43 -  Another RGV battle featuring Democrat defector Rep. J.M. Lozano, R-Kingsville, against former State Rep. Yvonne Gonzalez-Toureilles, D- Alice

HD 48 - Incumbent Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, against Republican Robert Thomas

HD 78 - An El Paso rematch between Republican Rep. Dee Margo and former State Rep. Joe Moody

HD 107 - A DFW area battle between incumbent Republican Rep. Kenneth Sheets and Democratic former State Rep. Robert Miklos

HD 113 - Another DFW battle between Republican Rep. Cindy Burkett and Democrat Leighton Durham

HD 117 - Incumbent Republican Rep. John Garza, R-San Antonio, against Democrat Philip Cortez

HD 118 - Another San Antonio battle between incumbent Democrat Rep. Joe Farias and Republican challenger Robert Casias

HD 134 - Incumbent Republican Rep. Sarah Davis and Democrat Ann Elizabeth Johnson

HD 144 - An open Houston-area seat featuring a fight between Republican David Pineda and Democrat Mary Ann Perez

HD 149 - Another Houston seat between incumbent Rep. Hubert Vo and Republican Dianne Williams

Get your FCC political rule refresher for the fall political window

If you’re feeling a little unsure about the FCC’s political rules, TAB has scheduled a post Labor Day weekend Executive Briefing webinar on them.  This webinar, FREE to TAB member stations, takes place Sept. 5, 2-4 pm CDT.  Remember, the FCC’s political window for the November general election opens on Sept. 7, so get a quick refresher before the political ad buys heat up!

Attorney Gregg Skall of TAB Associate Member law firm Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice will bring you up to speed on these complex regulations and discuss issues that have arisen in this 2012 election year.

Click here to register.   There is no limit to the number of station employees who may register for this FREE online session.

Getting the latest

TAB will keep you abreast of developments in Texas political broadcasting as they occur.  

The TAB Political Update will run on an as needed basis in the weekly TABulletin.  On occasion, like today if circumstances warrant, we’ll send you an email directly.

Remember that TAB is your “go to” source for help with your 2012 political broadcast questions.  Call us at (512) 322-9944.  Don’t forget that the TAB Guide to Political Broadcasting is posted in the Legal Guides / Members section of the TAB website. 

The guide contains TAB’s political forms created specifically for stations’ political record-keeping as well as the “must know” aspects of the FCC’s political rules.  We also have a .pdf version of just the political forms for you to download and use.

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