Resuming our reporting after the long three-day Memorial Day weekend, today marks the Texas run-off vote – nominating day for the races that did not return majorities on March 3.
The most notable run-off features venerable Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX-4) who, at 91 is the oldest House member, is fighting to save his political career. Hall has already pledged that the next term, if he’s re-elected for an 18th time, will be his last. In March, the congressman placed first with 45 percent of the vote but failed to achieve majority status. Against him in the run-off election is former US Attorney John Ratcliffe, who recorded 29 percent back in March.
Normally when an incumbent is forced to a run-off, the challenger prevails because already a majority of voters have chosen another candidate. Such may not be the case here, however. The remaining two primary candidates have both endorsed the congressman, and the fact that Hall is the last remaining World War II veteran serving in Washington is weighing upon many voters. The latest poll gave the incumbent a nine-point lead, but he was still well below the 50 percent mark.
In southeast Texas, the open 36th District, a solidly Republican seat left open with Rep. Steve Stockman’s ill-advised run for the Senate, features a campaign between two men who have previously run for the House in other districts and lost. Dentist Brian Babin and businessman Ben Streusand are battling each other in a race with a clear delineation between the Republican establishment (Babin) and the Tea Party conservatives (Streusand). The winner tonight will invariably come to Congress in January.
In the district that stretches from northwest San Antonio to the El Paso suburbs, former Rep. Quico Canseco and ex-CIA officer William Hurd are battling for the opportunity of challenging freshman Rep. Pete Gallego (D-TX-23) in November. The 23rd District is the most swing seat in Texas. Canseco won it in the Republican landslide year of 2010, but Rep. Gallego, then a Texas state legislator, took advantage of the presidential year turnout and won a challenge race. Tonight’s vote will determine if former Rep. Canseco will have another chance to represent the sprawling west Texas CD.
Conyers on Ballot: On Friday, federal judge Matthew Leitman reversed a Michigan Secretary of State’s ruling that disqualified veteran Rep. John Conyers (D-MI-13) from being placed on this year’s Democratic primary ballot. At issue was the presence of ballot petition gatherers who themselves were not registered to vote. Under Michigan election law, a circulator must be a qualified voter or all of the signatures appearing on the petition become invalid irrespective of the signer’s individual registration status. Leitman, an Obama appointment who assumed his judicial commission in March, indicated that he would issue a ruling explanation at a later date but because time considerations are involved, he wanted to immediately announce his decision.
The action means that Rep. Conyers will be eligible to seek the Democratic nomination for a 26th term. With the retirement of fellow Michigan Rep. John Dingell (D-MI-12), Mr. Conyers will become the Dean of the House if he is successfully re-elected. His major competition comes from Detroit pastor Horace Sheffield in the Democratic primary.
Post-Primary Georgia Numbers: Two pollsters immediately went into the field right after last Tuesday’s Georgia senatorial primary. Both Rasmussen Reports (May 21-22; 750 registered Georgia voters) and Public Policy Polling, surveying for the liberal Better Georgia organization (May 21-22; 803 registered Georgia voters), finds Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn to be holding slight leads over both businessman David Perdue and Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA-1), the two Republican run-off participants. The best Republican showing is Rep. Kingston pulling into a 45-45 percent tie with Nunn on the PPP survey. Nunn’s strongest number is a 47-41 percent spread on Rasmussen’s poll, also against Rep. Kingston.
But the more pressing number is PPP’s segmentation of 410 Republican voters who could participate in the July 22nd run-off election. Among these respondents, it is Rep. Kingston jumping out to a surprisingly large 46-34 percent advantage over Perdue. In last week’s primary vote, it was Perdue placing first with 30 percent compared to Kingston’s 26 percent.
Expect several other polls to soon be forthcoming.