Herman: The 2018 Texas primary matchups worth watching


Now that we know the fields, let’s look for the fun.

Monday was the filing deadline for the March primaries. Seems like we’ve got some potentially interesting/entertaining races. Hurray for us. Let’s see what’s going to be worth keeping an eye on.

Atop the list is the possibility that the Democrats could lose their own gubernatorial primary. Let me explain.

Ten candidates have filed in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. You’ve never heard of most of them. The better-known among them are Lupe Valdez, Andrew White and Grady Yarbrough. Until last week, Valdez was Dallas County sheriff. Until 1987, White was a kid living in the Governor’s Mansion with his late dad, then-Gov. Mark White. The younger White is now a Houston businessman.

And you’ve seen Yarbrough’s name on lots of ballots. The retired teacher’s political career peaked with the Democratic nomination for a Railroad Commission seat in 2016. In 2012, he lost to Paul Sadler in a runoff for the Dem nomination to the U.S. Senate.

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Valdez is the anointed candidate of Democratic Party anointers. White’s the potential spoiler. A primary victory for him would be a loss for party officialdom. So that’s how the Dems could lose their own primary. The second-to-last thing Dem officialdom wants is a bruising, money-burning White-Valdez runoff. The last thing Dem officialdom wants is White (or anyone other than Valdez) as its gubernatorial nominee.

White wants Democrats to see him as a relatively centrist candidate who could beat GOP Gov. Greg Abbott in November.

“My fellow Democrats, I know you’re tired of losing,” White said in his announcement speech last week. “I am too. If winning in November is important to you, then I’m your candidate.”

So I think we can expect some intrigue/entertainment in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Please don’t disappoint us.

Abbott’s lone challenger on the GOP side is SECEDE Kilgore of Irving. I harbor a personal bias against anyone who officially changes his or her name for ballot purposes. My fellow GOP primary voters seem to harbor the same bias. In 2014, Kilgore ran fourth with 1.42 percent of the vote in the four-candidate GOP gubernatorial primary won by Abbott, who, though he’s jokingly referred to himself as “hell on wheels,” has not listed himself that way on the ballot.

For entertainment on the GOP side, we’re going to have to look to Land Commissioner George P. Bush’s bid for nomination for a second term. Bush’s life got a bit more complicated Monday when Jerry Patterson, Bush’s predecessor, announced he’s running to be Bush’s successor.

There’s bad blood here that could be good fun. The entertainingly (unless you’re running against him) combative Patterson served three terms as land commissioner before coming in fourth in 2014 in the four-man race, won by Dan Patrick, for the GOP nomination for lite guv.

Bush is the favorite in this race. But, win or lose, Patterson will drive him crazy. And for Bush, this could be an interesting test of his name.

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“The problem is — I don’t think it’s necessarily deserved — but the Bush name is not an asset. It’s a liability,” Patterson said Monday in announcing his candidacy. “And that’s unfortunate.”

Patterson managed to sound sincerely troubled about that.

Davey Edwards of Decatur and Rick Range of Sherman also are on the GOP ballot.

Miguel Suazo of Austin and Tex Morgan of San Antonio are the Democrats running for land commissioner.

Also potentially entertaining is Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller’s bid for nomination for a second term. Anything involving Miller is potentially entertaining. And the chances have been multiplied by Trey Blocker’s entry into the race. Blocker is a former lobbyist who now bills himself as an “ethics attorney, podcast host, small businessman and president of a nonprofit legal foundation.”

The Miller-Blocker tussle got off to an amusing/disturbing start with Miller noting that Blocker’s campaign website includes a photo of him in front of a restaurant menu board showing Nutella banana crepes were available. Miller doesn’t seem to like Nutella banana crepes and everything they stand for.

There also could be some GOP civil wars in legislative races. Ever-pugnacious state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, plans to stick his nose into some GOP legislative primaries. “I have no opponent,” he tweeted. “Time to travel the state and help kick my RINO colleagues out of office. #onward #comingbackwithfriends #txlege.”

RINO (Republican In Name Only) is an insult Repubs use on each other. As far as I know, there are no DINOs.

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On the Democratic side, voters in a Harris County U.S. House district are going to have to pay close attention when they vote. Three of the seven candidates are Garcias.

Gracias, Garcias, for your willingness to serve. Incumbent Dem Rep. Gene Green is not seeking re-election in that district.

Let’s end with my favorite race. It’s on the GOP ballot in Montgomery County (near Houston) where the man known as King Wally has his first challenger in more than a decade. Wally Wilkerson, 87, has been Montgomery County GOP chair for 53 years. Terrence Boggs filed Monday to run against Wilkerson.

I’m not a term limits guy. But I could be drawn into a discussion about possibly limiting county party chairs to half a century or until somebody starts calling him King.



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