Those Texas Primaries
Thursday March 8, 2017
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Note: Much of what follows is the result of a conversation with MullPal Matt Mackowiak of Austin, Texas. Matt is a rising star in Conservative Republican circles.
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Matt and I worked together for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. Our immediate boss was the Senator's CoS, Marc Short, who is now the Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs.
- Let's go back to some of the breathless reporting on the first set of primaries in the 2018 political cycle: Texas.
- After perching like vultures in a tree over a carcass in the Serengeti, the national press corps has moved on to Stormy Daniels and Aluminum imports.
- The runup to Tuesday's primaries told us that there was great - GREAT - enthusiasm among Democrats as shown by the early voting numbers. By extension, it was understood that Republicans were cowering under the weight of Donald Trump rather than heading to their early voting polling places.
- That close observer of Texas politics, "New York Magazine" told us with a good deal of nudging and winking that
"Democratic turnout has increased by 90 percent compared to the 2014 midterms and is even above the 2016 presidential election year levels. Republican early voter turnout is up by 17 percent from 2014 but still lagging behind 2016 turnout."
- It turns out that early voting numbers are only reported for the 15 largest counties in Texas.
- Who knew?
- The largest counties tend to be the most urbanized counties which means they tend to lean toward Democrats.
- More Democrats were early voting in the places where there are more Democrats.
- Stop. The. Presses.
- Not only that, but even having lived in Dallas for most of the 90s, I did not know how many counties there actually are in Texas.
- The answer is 254.
- And, they range in population from the largest, Harris (which is the county that contains Houston) with about 4.6 million people, to the smallest, Loving county with a population of 113.
- That's not 113 thousand people. That's 113 people.
- The three most watched races - remember these were primaries - were those for Governor, U.S. Senator, and Land Commissioner.
- Land Commissioner? That's the state-wide position won in 2014 by George P. Bush, son of former Florida Governor, Jeb.
- NPR, also showing its East Coast biases, sniffed that after easily winning the position,
"The realities of holding office began to sink in. There are questions about how well his office has handled Hurricane Harvey relief. He's also received bad press over his handling of the Alamo. You know, the one we're supposed to remember all the time."
- In Texas if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, there is a runoff. The runoffs this year will be in May.
- To the great dismay of those who had written and pressed the SAVE AS button to their "End of the Bush Dynasty that began in Connecticut in 1952" stories, George P. breezed through his primary with 58.2 percent of the votes.
- Not only that, but the total number of votes cast in the GOP primary for Land Commissioner was 1,476,522. The total number of votes case in the Democratic primary for Land Commissioner was 943,915. That's an enthusiasm gap of 532,607 - over a half million votes - in favor of Republicans.
- The races for Governor and U.S. Senator showed similar imbalances: Incumbent Republican Governor, Greg Abbot, won with over 90 percent of the 1,540,296 votes cast in his race. There will be a runoff between the two top finishers on the Democratic side, Lupe Valdez (43%) and Andrew White (27.4%) but again, there were some 500,000 fewer votes cast on the D side than on the R side.
- The third state-wide race that drew the attention of the Eastern press was for the seat currently held by Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. He Cruzed to victory with over 85 percent of the Republican vote. Over on the D side, Beto O'Rourke also easily won his primary with nearly 62 percent, but again, about a half million fewer votes were cast in O'Rourke's primary than in Cruz'.
- What are the chances?
- Last one.
- Two Latinas will be elected to Congress this fall from Texas for the first time. Via NBC.com:
"Sylvia Garcia, a Texas state senator and Veronica Escobar, a former county judge in El Paso, Texas, won their House primaries in heavily Democratic and Latino districts, making their election in November almost a done deal."
- NBC played it straight, but in much of the "First Latinas" coverage it sounded like somehow this was a finger in the eye of the Texas GOP.
- "Heavily Democatic and Latino districts" could - could - be read to mean it has been the Texas Democrats who have ignored International Women's Day for the past 173 years (since Texas became a state) by refusing to elect Democrat women in Democrat districts.
- The coverage of the Texas primaries was not fake news, but it was lazy news.
- On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the NY Magazine and NPR stories, to the NBC.com piece, and to the NY Times results page.
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