Texans are casting their votes in their primaries Tuesday, the first contests of the 2018 election cycle. But voters in the Lone Star State have been voting for almost two weeks already — and there’s been a big surge in enthusiasm across the board.
Driven by anti-President Trump fervor, in this typically deep red state, there are plenty of positive signs for a once-latent Democratic Party in the state. Early vote turnout for the minority party has surpassed GOP totals — and even bested their 2016 numbers. Democrats have also fielded a record number of candidates in all 36 congressional districts, and there’s the potential to flip maybe three or more seats come November.
There are eight open-seat races happening, too — six held by Republicans and two by Democrats who are retiring. The majority of those races will stay in the same party’s hands. But the nominees may not be known in those crowded races until May 22, since a candidate needs to top 50 percent this go-round to avoid a runoff.
There are six Republicans and two Democrats who are not seeking re-election in 2018.
|Member||Year Elected||Cook Partisan Voting Index||2016 Results|
|Gene Green, 29th District||1992||D+19||Clinton, 71%-25%|
|Beto O’Rourke, 16th District||2012||D+17||Clinton, 68%-27%|
|Joe Barton, 6th District||1984||R+9||Trump, 54%-42%|
|Lamar Smith, 21st District||1986||R+10||Trump, 52%-42%|
|Ted Poe, 2nd District||2004||R+11||Trump, 52%-43%|
|Sam Johnson, 3rd District||1991||R+13||Trump, 54%-40%|
|Blake Farenthold, 27th District||2010||R+13||Trump, 60%-36%|
|Jeb Hensarling, 5th District||2002||R+16||Trump, 62%-34%|
The same is true in what will be some of the most watched races this fall — primaries to see who will face Reps. John Culberson, Pete Sessions and Will Hurd in the three congressional districts held by Republicans but won by Hillary Clinton in 2016. Those Democratic primaries — some of which have turned quite bitter — may go into runoff overtime as well.
Note: Lamar Smith’s seat is both open and potentially competitive.
In the Senate race, both GOP Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke are expected to easily win their primaries. Cruz still has the edge for re-election, but O’Rourke has been mounting a surprisingly strong campaign and gaining attention.
In another race to watch, there’s a political scion with a familiar name — yet another George Bush, this one George P., son of none other than Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and 2016 presidential candidate. Despite Jeb Bush’s feuds with President Trump, Trump has endorsed George P. Bush for re-election for land commissioner. But Bush is running against a former land commissioner who wants the job back. If a Bush in Texas endorsed by Trump were to lose, that would certainly be news.
Most of the polls in the state will close at 8 p.m. ET, but some areas in the far western part of the state will be open until 9 p.m. ET.
Here’s more of what to watch once the returns start rolling in:
Can Democrats sustain their early vote momentum?
The 11 days of early voting brought some of the best news in decades for Democrats. Not only did they best GOP early voting statewide totals in some key areas like Houston, Dallas and San Antonio, but they also…