Tag Archives: Rep. Filemon Vela

Rep. Rice Loses in SC;
Flores Converts Seat for GOP in TX

By Jim Ellis — June 16, 2022

Primary Results

South Carolina Rep. Tom Rice (R-Myrtle Beach)

South Carolina: Rep. Tom Rice Loses Re-Nomination — The first of six Republican House members who are seeking re-election and voted to impeach former President Trump went down to defeat Tuesday night. South Carolina Rep. Tom Rice (R-Myrtle Beach) lost outright to Trump’s endorsed candidate, state Rep. Russell Fry (R-Murrell’s Inlet). Fry defeated Rep. Rice, 51-24 percent, with the remaining 25 percent being split among the other five candidates.

Elsewhere, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-Charleston) defeated Republican primary challenger and 2018 congressional nominee Katie Arrington by a close 53-45 percent, which proved to be a defeat for a Trump endorsed candidate. Fourth District Rep. William Timmons (R-Greenville), in a race that Trump did not affect, was also renominated but only by a 52.7 percent vote share opposite three challengers.

Statewide, both Republican incumbents, Sen. Tim Scott and Gov. Henry McMaster, were easily re-nominated. Gov. McMaster will now face former Congressman Joe Cunningham (D), who won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination outright with 56.5 percent of the vote, while the Democratic Senate candidates fell into a tight three-way finish. Two of the contenders will advance to a runoff election on June 28, presumably author Catherine Bruce and state Rep. Krystle Matthews (D-Ladson).

TX-34: Mayra Flores Converts Seat for GOP — Republican Mayra Flores, a health care professional, won the open special election last night in a 51-43 percent spread over former Cameron County Commissioner Dan Sanchez (D) and two others. The district was left vacant when then-Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville) resigned from the House to accept a position with a legislative advocacy firm.

Flores’ win will boost the Republican count to 214 in the House, just four away from creating a new majority — but winning a full term in November is a more difficult challenge for her in the regular election. The new 34th is rated 12 points more Democratic than the seat she won last night and will face 15th District Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) in the impending general election.

Gonzalez chose to seek re-election in the new South Texas 34th when Vela announced his retirement, and thus won the party primary in March. We can expect the Republican national political apparatus to pull out all of the stops in an attempt to re-elect Flores in the fall, thus making the 34th CD a political battleground.

Senate

Georgia: Sen. Warnock, Herschel Walker Tied — East Carolina University tested the Georgia electorate (June 6-9; 868 registered Georgia voters) and find Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and Republican challenger Herschel Walker tied at 47 percent apiece. The Georgia race will be one of the key battleground contests in the 2022 general election cycle.

Governor

Georgia: Gov. Kemp Leads Stacey Abrams — The aforementioned East Carolina University poll (see Georgia Senate above) finds Gov. Brian Kemp (R) leading ex-state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D), 50-45 percent, in another race that is expected to go down to the wire. The two fought to a 50.2 – 48.8 percent finish in 2018.

Texas: Abbot Up in Landslide — A new Democratic Blueprint Polling survey of the Texas electorate (June 8-10; 603 likely Texas general election voters) finds Gov. Greg Abbott (R) re-establishing a huge polling lead. In this survey, the ballot test breaks 56-37 percent over former US Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso). Gov. Abbott is seeking a third four-year term.

Rep. Vela to Resign; Another Special?

Texas Congressional Redistricting Map (click here or on map to see larger, interactive version)

By Jim Ellis

March 28, 2022 — If the upcoming Alaska special election isn’t complex enough, with the top-four jungle primary feature complete with Ranked Choice Voting that will be used to replace the late at-large Rep. Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon), the developing situation in Texas may be even more confusing.

A year ago March, five-term South Texas Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville) announced that he would not seek re-election in 2022, becoming one of the first sitting incumbents to enter into lame duck status. Late last week Vela made public his intention to resign in the “next few weeks” in order to accept a position with the Akin Gump law firm.

Texas election law states that a vacancy in office must be filled at the next regular election, or earlier if the governor rules that an emergency exists. In a similar situation before the regular 2018 election, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) called an emergency special election to immediately replace resigned GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold. Current Rep. Michael Cloud (R-Victoria) won his initial election as a result.

In the current political climate, with the country facing record inflation, sky-high energy prices, a border crisis, oil and gas production limitations as a matter of policy, and a hostile invasion in eastern Europe not seen since the days of Adolph Hitler in the pre-World War II period, the governor could easily claim that enough issues need addressing by a full Texas delegation. Therefore, he could justify calling an immediate special election.

If so, the situation becomes interesting. The winner of Rep. Vela’s 34th District open Democratic primary on March 1 was sitting 15th District Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen). He is seeking re-election in the 34th with Rep. Vela’s endorsement instead of in his original district that is trending more Republican. Therefore, if a special election is held prior to the regular election, Rep. Gonzalez would have to resign his 15th CD seat upon winning the subsequent election, thus creating another short-term vacancy.

Continue reading

Texas Primary Today

By Jim Ellis

March 1, 2022 — The national primary season begins today in the Lone Star State and some nominees will be chosen outright while others can advance to a May 24 runoff election. The majority of the candidates will be eliminated, however.

Texas has all of their statewide offices on the ballot in 2022, as well as 38 congressional races, two more than in the previous decade since the state earned two new seats in national reapportionment. Neither Texas US senator is in-cycle his year.

This should be a relatively quiet primary day for the top of the ticket candidates as Gov. Greg Abbott and former US Rep. Beto O’Rourke will easily win outright in their respective Republican and Democratic nomination elections. Surveys, however, only show early single-digit leads for Gov. Abbott in general election pairings, which is typical for Texas polling. Often races begin in rather close fashion only to see the Republican nominee pull away at the end.

The race garnering the most attention is the attorney general’s contest, where two-term incumbent Ken Paxton is likely headed to a runoff election against either Land Commissioner George P. Bush, son of former Florida governor and presidential candidate Jeb Bush, or state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman. US Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tyler), while being part of the equation that likely denies Paxton re-nomination tomorrow night, does not appear in competitive position.

AG Paxton continues to have a 2015 federal indictment hanging over his head without action, former aides levying (at this point unproven) charges that he was involved in a bribery scam, and dealing with an extra-marital affair that has come to the surface. All of this has put him in an obvious vulnerable position for re-election.

Four serious Democratic candidates are vying for their party’s nomination, with ACLU south Texas lawyer Rochelle Garza, civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who under scrutiny has yet to produce his Texas law license, former Galveston Mayor Lee Merritt, and retired Harris County Judge Mark Fields. Two of these candidates advancing into a runoff is a virtual certainty.

Several primary contests will be decided tomorrow night in congressional races, with the most competitive battles underway in open seats. Twenty of the state’s incumbents seeking re-election have primary opposition, but only two face what can be characterized as serious opponents. Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) has the most serious challenge, and a highly publicized FBI investigation certainly doesn’t help his situation.

The following are the congressional races to watch tomorrow night:

District 1: Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tyler) – Open Seat

2022 TX-1: 538 Stat Projection: R+50 | Previous Projection: R+50
2022 TX-1: Dave’s Redistricting App: 72.5% R; 25.6% D

• Percent of Former District 1 in New District 1: 72.4 (Gohmert)
• Percent of Former District 4 in New District 1: 27.6 (Fallon)

With Rep. Gohmert retiring after what will be nine terms, four candidates are battling for the Republican nomination in what is a super-safe east Texas seat for the GOP. Smith County Judge (called County Executives in most states) Nathaniel Moran appears to be the favorite since the Tyler area is the 1st District’s population anchor. Moran is a possibility to win outright, but he is virtually assured of clinching one of the runoff slots.


District 3: Rep. Van Taylor (R-Plano)

2022 TX-3: 538 Stat Projection: R+23 Previous Projection: R+11
2022 TX-3: Dave’s Redistricting App: 58.7% R; 38.6% D

• Percent of Former District   3 in New District 3: 73.3 (Taylor)
• Percent of Former District   4 in New District 3: 18.3 (Fallon)
• Percent of Former District 32 in New District 3:   8.5 (Allred)

Rep. Van Taylor’s top opponent, former Collin County Judge Keith Self, has won three elections in a political entity that houses more than 1 million people, so he is a known figure to north Texas Republican voters. He has not raised much in the way of funding, however, but does have some outside help. There are two other candidates on the ballot, so a runoff is mathematically conceivable but highly unlikely.

Rep. Taylor is the clear favored to win outright. The 3rd District was made much more Republican in redistricting, thus tomorrow night’s election will likely be the determining factor for the entire election cycle.


District 8: Rep. Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands) – Open Seat

2022 TX-8: 538 Stat Projection: R+26 Previous Projection: R+50
2022 TX-8: Dave’s Redistricting App: 63.5% R; 34.4% D

• Percent of Former District   8 in New District 8: 42.4 (Brady)
• Percent of Former District   7 in New District 8: 30.1 (Fletcher)
• Percent of Former District 10 in New District 8: 19.0 (McCaul)
• Percent of Former District 36 in New District 8:   6.5 (Babin)
• Percent of Former District   2 in New District 8:   1.9 (Crenshaw)

Rep. Kevin Brady is retiring after what will be 26 years in the House, and leaves a Republican primary battle that will likely be decided tomorrow night. Internal polling shows retired Iraq and Afghan War veteran Morgan Luttrell in position to win outright in a field of 11 candidates, which is a difficult feat. Luttrell is the brother of Marcus Luttrell, who came to fame as the “Lone Survivor” in books and a movie about his harrowing experience in Afghanistan.

Consultant and conservative activist Christian Collins, who Sen. Ted Cruz and Texas Reps. Lance Gooden (R-Terrell) and Troy Nehls (R-Richmond) are supporting, appears as Luttrell’s strongest opponent. The eventual Republican nominee will have little trouble in the general election.
Continue reading

Texas 2022 Candidate Filing Closes

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 17, 2021 — Texas became the first state to see candidate filing close for the 2022 elections, so the campaign season has officially been launched.

In the Lone Star State, candidates file with their respective state party organizations, or county parties if their race is fully contained within one entity, and not the Secretary of State. Therefore, the filings might not yet be fully recorded and approved. The statewide primary is scheduled for March 1. If no candidate for whatever office does not receive majority support in the first election, a runoff between the top two finishers will occur on May 24.

What we know so far is that Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will face a significant Republican primary challenge from former Florida congressman and ex-Texas Republican Party chairman Allen West and former Dallas state Sen. Don Huffines. The latter man, who was defeated for re-election in 2018, has the ability to self-fund a statewide primary campaign. Former congressman and 2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke will be the Democratic nominee as he faces only minor opposition in the party primary.

Regardless of the level of competition, Gov. Abbott, though his approval ratings are at a low ebb in his seven-year career as the state’s chief executive, is a heavy favorite in both the Republican primary and the 2022 general election.

The main constitutional office of interest is the attorney general’s race. Here, embattled incumbent Ken Paxton (R), who has for years been under a federal SEC indictment that has yet to move forward, and who has been publicly accused of having an ongoing extra-marital affair, faces three strong candidates for re-nomination: State Land Commissioner George P. Bush, US Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tyler), and state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman.

Though Paxton has personal and legal problems, his favorability ratings among Republican primary voters is still surprisingly high. Forcing the two-term attorney general into a runoff election, however, is a clear possibility.

With the state having no Senate race in 2022, the federal focus turns to the new 38-member US House delegation. Texas gained two seats in national reapportionment, thus increasing their delegation size from 36 to 38 seats. The state will wield 40 electoral votes in the next presidential election, second only to California’s reduced 54.

Continue reading

Texans Planning Moves

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 5, 2021 — The Texas congressional map was unveiled in the state Senate last week, and already many incumbents and challengers are making or announcing political plans based upon what they are seeing … but this congressional plan is a long way from enactment.

In the past few days we have seen Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) concede that he would consider moving to run in the open 34th District, which is due east of his own 15th CD and anchored in the city of Brownsville. Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville) is not seeking re-election to a sixth term, and he reportedly is favorable toward Gonzalez coming into his district.

The 34th remains solidly Democratic under the Senate introduced congressional map, but the 15th, already trending more Republican than in past elections, would actually have favored former President Trump by three percentage points under the proposed boundaries. Thus, Republicans would have a strong chance of winning here in an open seat race.

The 2020 GOP nominee, Monica de la Cruz-Hernandez, who held Rep. Gonzalez to a 50-48 percent re-election victory while spending barely over $400,000, has announced she is running again and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has already endorsed her for the 2022 race.

Gonzalez is not the only one working on his next political move. Wesley Hunt (R), who lost 51-47 percent to Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-Houston) in 2020, said months ago that he would run for the House again, but was mum on exactly where he would land in hopes that one of the new seats would fall into his area. Under this proposed map, the new 38th District does encompass part of the current Fletcher district, and it is highly favorable to an eventual Republican nominee.

For her part, Rep. Fletcher gets a much stronger Democratic district in southern Harris County and now into Ft. Bend County, which is one of the fastest growing regions in the state. Reports also suggest that Hunt has over $1 million in his campaign account at the reporting period ending Sept. 30 despite not previously declaring where he would run. He announced last week that he has chosen District 38 if this new map becomes law.

Late last week, Republican businessman and retired Air Force officer Steve Fowler announced his congressional candidacy in the 28th District, Rep. Henry Cuellar’s (D-Laredo) seat that begins in San Antonio and spans to the Mexican border. Earlier this year, Jessica Cisneros, who held Cuellar to a 52-48 percent Democratic primary win in 2020, announced she is returning for a re-match.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) will also have a decision to make. The new 37th District is wholly contained within Travis County and safely Democratic. He could easily run in this seat, thus leaving his 35th CD that is co-anchored in Austin and San Antonio for a Hispanic Democrat to likely win.

Continue reading