By Jim EllisAug. 10, 2020 — A shoo-in candidate in TX-4 and a naval battle in Georgia highlight tomorrow’s primaries in those states:
Fourth Congressional District convention delegates chose a general election ballot replacement for resigned Rep. John Ratcliffe (R) on Saturday, and that replacement, state Sen. Pat Fallon (R-Wichita Falls), now becomes a virtual cinch to join the new Congress in January.
A high turnout of 144 individuals from the universe of 158 eligible precinct chairs, empowered under Texas election procedure to choose a new congressional nominee, gathered in the small community of Sulphur Springs, located on Interstate 30 in Hopkins County, which lies in the center of the 4th District. The seat is vacant because former Rep. Ratcliffe resigned in May when he was appointed Director of US Intelligence.
State Sen. Fallon, who does not live in the 4th District and currently represents only four of its 18 counties, scored a first-ballot victory. He came to Saturday’s meeting backed by US Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) who delivered an endorsement speech on Fallon’s behalf.
A total of 12 candidates’ names were placed into nomination, obviously including Sen. Fallon, and Ratcliffe former district chief of staff Jason Ross, Atlanta (TX) Mayor Travis Ransom, and US Rep. Lance Gooden’s (R-TX) chief of staff, Aaron Harris. Sen. Fallon recorded 82 votes on the first ballot, which allowed him to clinch the general election nomination outright.
The 4th District seat will remain vacant for the rest of the year because Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has decided not to call a special election to fill the unexpired portion of the current term. The 4th District is heavily Republican (Trump ’16: 75-22 percent), so Sen. Fallon becomes a prohibitive general election favorite and, barring a GOP political catastrophe, will take the seat in January with the incoming freshman class.
TX-4, once represented by legendary House Speaker Sam Rayburn (D-Bonham), is located in the Lone Star State’s northeastern corner. The district begins in Rockwall County, just east of the Dallas outer suburbs, and stretches all the way to Texarkana. It is bordered by Oklahoma and the Red River to the north and the Arkansas and Louisiana to the east.
Since 1900, only seven individuals have represented the district, including Speaker Rayburn and 34-year congressional veteran Ralph Hall (R-Rockwall), who ended his career as the oldest person ever to serve in the House.
Tomorrow, Georgia voters will decide four congressional runoff campaigns in three districts. Two of the four are likely to determine a clear successor to a retiring House member and another who chose to seek a different office.
In the Savannah-anchored 1st District, Democrats Joyce Griggs and Lisa Ring are vying for their party’s nomination. In reality, the winner of tomorrow’s race will advance into the general election only to lose to Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) in what is still a safe Republican district.
In the northeastern 9th District, both Republicans and Democrats are in runoff elections. The GOP contest, however, for all intents and purposes will identify Rep. Doug Collins’ (R-Gainesville) successor. Collins is leaving the House to run in the special US Senate election.
In the Republican runoff, state Rep. Matt Gurtler (R-Tiger) battles retired US Navy officer Andrew Clyde, the latter of whom is self-funding his campaign to a large degree. Clyde has the resource advantage, and both will end their respective campaigns spending close to the $1 million mark.
Among the nine Republican candidates in the June 9 primary, including former US Rep. Paul Broun (R), Gurtler was the top vote getter, but managed to tally only 21.3 percent of the vote. Clyde followed closely with 18.6 percent. Tomorrow’s secondary election is predicted to be close with the winner punching his ticket to Washington, DC in January.
For the Democrats, businesswoman Brooke Sisken finished first in the primary with 41.5 percent despite spending no money. Retired Army non-commissioned officer Devin Pandy qualified in second position with 32.9 percent after raising just over $20,000 through June 30. Whoever wins tomorrow is not expected to be competitive in the general election, so the Republican runoff winner becomes the prohibitive favorite for November.
The 14th District Republican runoff is likely to draw the most attention of these Georgia electoral contests. Running to succeed retiring Rep. Tom Graves (R-Rome) is the primary first-place finisher, Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has come under fire for her QAnon contacts, those who believe in the “deep state” and that they are conspiring to take down President Trump. Her opponent, who trailed Greene by 19 percentage points in the primary election, is Dr. John Cowan, a neurosurgeon from Rome.
Largely due to the press controversy surrounding Greene, polling shows the two candidates locked in a tie. Therefore, tomorrow’s result is rated as a toss-up contest.
The northwest Georgia 14th District, covering 11 whole counties and part of a 12th, also is safely Republican (Trump ’16: 75-22 percent; Rep. Graves averaged 89.9 percent of the vote over his five terms in office), and either Greene or Cowan will sweep to victory in November.