Speed Reads

2018 elections

Texas primaries offer few upsets but a couple of surprises

It's official: Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D) is facing Sen. Ted Cruz (R) in the November midterms, getting a lower-than-expected 62 percent of the vote in Tuesday's Texas Democratic primary. (Cruz got just over 85 percent in the Republican primary.) Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will be able to spend his $43 million war chest against either former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez or Andrew White, the son of former Gov. Mark White (D), who will face each other in a runoff election for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Abbott, who got 90 percent of the vote in the GOP primary, largely failed in his $250,000 bid to sink three Republican state lawmakers he considered disloyal.

In other notable races, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush — Jeb Bush's son — defied some political obituaries to win the GOP primary outright, fending off a challenge from predecessor Jerry Patterson. (Bush will face Democrat Miguel Suazo.) In Houston, progressive activist and writer Laura Moser advanced to a Democratic primary runoff against lawyer Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, despite the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee trying to sideline Moser in the race to challenge Rep. John Culberson (R). Rep. Will Hurd's (R) Democratic challenger will be decided in a runoff between Gina Ortiz Jones, an Iraq War veteran, and Judy Canales or Rick Treviño. Texas will likely send its first Latina women to Congress, after Veronica Escobar and state Sen. Sylvia Garcia (D) won primaries for open seats in El Paso and Houston.

Democratic turnout was unusually high — at least 1 million Texans voted in the Democratic primary, likely beating the previous midterm primary record set in 2002 — but more than 1.5 million people voted in the Republican primary. "While 2002 was a high water mark for Democratic turnout in Texas it also showed the limits of the exuberance for turning the state blue," The Associated Press notes. "In November that year, the Democrats running for statewide office were all beaten, just as they have been since 1994."