Davis vs. Abbott for governor; lieutenant governor race heads to runoff

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by WFAA Staff

WFAA

Posted on March 4, 2014 at 8:28 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 5 at 2:24 AM

News 8 has reporters across the state covering many of today's races. We've built a widget here that corrals all their tweets as a companion piece to the blog.


1:13 a.m. Six of the state's top jobs did not have an incumbent, and 26 Republicans battled for those seats. That led to a lot of runoffs on Tuesday night, including race for the key posts of lieutenant governor, attorney general, state comptroller, agriculture commissioner and railroad commissioner. Since the Republican nominee has won every statewide election since 1994, this spring could see some intense campaigning to win over what has traditionally been a tiny electorate in runoffs. - Associated Press

1:11 a.m. Kesha Rogers, a Lyndon LaRouche follower who wants to impeach President Barack Obama, made it into the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. Dallas Dentist David Alameel failed to break the 50 percent mark in his bid for the Republican nomination and embarrassing the Texas Democratic Party at a time when it is trying to be taken seriously. Mainstream Democrats, who want a conventional slate for November, will also want to get involved in the runoff for agriculture commissioner, which pits country singer and humorist Kinky Friedman against Jim Hogan, an unknown cattle farmer from Cleburne. - Associated Press

9:51 p.m. And a pair of confirmed runoffs: Lt. Gov. candidates Dan Patrick and incumbent David Dewhurst and attorney general candidates Ken Paxton, the state senator from McKinney, and Dan Branch, the state representative from Dallas. The runoff election is on May 27. - Matt Goodman, WFAA.com

9:23 p.m. In a 13 minute speech to supporters in San Antonio, Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott highlighted his family's multicultural foundation before stressing the importance of improving Texas' education system. 

He never mentioned his Democratic challenger, State Sen. Wendy Davis. 

"I think that the answer to the future of Texas is one that offers more freedom and more opportunity for our fellow Texans; more freedom and opportunity for individuals by having their constitutional rights protected instead of trampled upon by their own federal government," he said. 

Abbott, who has sued the federal government 27 times while serving as the state attorney general, highlighted his penchant for challenging President Barack Obama. He applauded and thanked the military members in the audience and again commended the state for its relaxed regulatory climate and low taxes.

The back-end of his speech focused primarily on improving Texas' education standing.  

He vowed to "provide more online and digital learning tools" in classrooms, to ditch "one size fits all" approaches to education and said the legislature should "stop forcing our teachers to teach so many standardized tests and to truly educate our citizens to achieve their very best." 

"The way I see things, Texas is ranked No. 1 in so many ways; we're No. 1 in creating jobs, we're No. 1 in energy, we're No. 1 in exports," he said. "Texas should set its sights on a new No. 1 in this nation: My goal is that Texas be ranked No. 1 in education in the United States of America." - Matt Goodman, WFAA.com

9:03 p.m. This is not the start Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's team hoped for. Their dreams of a strong showing in the numbers from early voting didn’t happen. Instead, state Sen. Dan Patrick still leads the pack for the GOP primary for lieutenant governor. 

As of 8:30pm, Patrick has 44 percent of the vote, Dewhurst has 26 percent, Todd Staples with 16 percent and Jerry Patterson has 12 percent. In order to avoid a runoff, one of the candidates must secure more than 50 percent of the vote. 

The mood is festive at the Dewhurst watch party, with a jazz band and a full buffet of Mexican food, but there are whispers of shock among party goers. Their hope is that the night is young. Dewhurst addressed the crowd at about 8:45 p.m. and did not mention the current results. Instead, he focused on the runoff. 

"I want to make an announcement," he said. "This race is going into overtime and we're going to win it." 

He defended his conservative record and said he would vow to keep government spending low, defend gun rights, improve public schools and define marriage as between one man and one woman. 

"I'm going to work real hard to obtain your support, your trust, and your vote to keep Texas strong," he said. 

Patrick’s watch party is also in the Houston area, at a local hotel. Staples and Patterson are watching returns from Austin. - Marie Saavedra reporting from Houston, Matt Goodman reporting from Dallas

8:29 p.m. Speaking to a throng of supporters chanting her name, Wendy Davis blasted her gubernatorial opponent Greg Abbott as a "defender of the status quo" who will attempt to govern the personal lives of Texans. Davis took the stage at her Fort Worth headquarters moments after the Associated Press called the Democratic primary in her favor. 

She briefly waded into the topic of aboriton, which she's been wary to bring up thus far on the campaign. Davis catapulted to notoriety after an 11-hour filibuster of an abortion bill in the state senate last June. 

"Greg Abbott, he wants to dictate for all women, including victims of rape and incest, the decisions they should make," she said. "I will be a governor who fights for the future of Texas. Greg Abbott, he is a defender of the status quo." 

Davis also spoke out in support of Leticia Van de Putte, the Democratic party's candidate for lieutnant governor. The San Antonio-based state senator was a fellow outspoken opponent of that landmark abortion bill, which was later voted into law in a special session. 

"It's time for each of us to work as hard as we can and fight for the very future of this great state," Davis said in closing.

Abbott is set to speak to supporters at 9 p.m. - Matt Goodman, WFAA.com

8:06 p.m. The AP has called another batch of statewide races: As expected, Abbott is the Republican candidate for governor and Davis is the Democratic. She is expected to speak to supporters any minute.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn will be up for a third term while George P. Bush is on the ticket for land commissioner. - Matt Goodman, WFAA.com

8:01 p.m. The AP has called two local primary races: incumbent Pete Sessions takes U.S. congressional District 32 over tea party challenger Katrina Pierson and U.S. Congressional District 33 goes to Marc Veasey, who was elected in 2012. - Matt Goodman, WFAA.com

7:43 p.m. Another race many are keeping an eye on is for the District 16 seat in the Texas Senate, between longtime incumbent John Carona and well-funded upstart businessman Don Huffines. After early voting results, Huffines has a narrow lead of 152 votes: 12,859 to Carona's 12,707.

Political experts say the result of the race could be indicative of the tea party's staying power in state races. Carona was elected to the Texas Legislature in 1990 and has been an accessible representative willing to address the state's ailing water and road infrastructure. Huffines shot out of the gates with a slew of attack ads painting his opponent as an Obama-supporting secret liberal. 

Again, to the Star-Telegram's Bud Kennedy: 

"Carona is an establishment Republican, again who's endangered. Don Huffines came in with money, with staff, with a lot of ground workers and worked really hard against an incumbent who had 15 years of baggage, a long career of baggage to run against.

That Carona was this close may almost be good news for Carona. It was good weather today, he may have gotten a better turnout in the district, but Huffines has piled up a good representation in the early voting."

7:37 p.m. And early voting totals from all four major North Texas counties paint a similar picture: Patrick is pulling away from Dewhurst. In Dallas, Tarrant, Denton and Collin counties, Patrick has 105,499 while Dewhurst has 66,475. 

Bud Kennedy, a political columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, predicts a runoff but says that gap isn't a good sign for an ailing Dewhurst. 

"All the incumbent Republicans are in the most dangerous place you can be –– an incumbent establishment Republican –– and we're seeing that from Dewhurst in the early going. This is in urban counties, but this isn't even Dan Patrick's strong part of the state; he's from Houston, he will do better in Houston.

I don't think this will wind up without a runoff, but David Dewhurst has slipped badly in the last few weeks. His closing rush in this campaign wasn't a rush at all and Dan Patrick has opened up some space on him.

I think he may be sitting on the rest of his money, figuring that he's got a runoff made. It's a long time to the runoff now, it's 10 weeks, it's the end of May, May 27. I think he's planning on a runoff, I don't think the numbers will work out this way but it doesn't look good to be this far behind." 

7:16 p.m. Early voting totals from Tarrant County for the lieutanant governor race echo its neighbor to the east: Patrick has a solid lead over Dewhurst there, 26,956 for Patrick to Dewhurst's 13,387. - Matt Goodman, WFAA.com

7:07 p.m. Interesting findings from early voting results in Dallas County: For the lieutenant governor race, Patrick nearly logged two votes to Dewhurst's one. The former has 20,770 while Dewhurst logged 10,545. Patterson trails with 6,727 and Staples follows him with 5,570. 

The race to replace likely gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott as the state's next attorney general is neck and neck between a pair of North Texans. State Rep. Dan Branch, from Dallas, trails state Sen. Ken Paxton, of McKinney, by a mere 125 votes: 18,375 to Paxton's 18,550. 

Meanwhile, George P. Bush has a commanding lead in Dallas County over David Watts for land commissioner: 33,593 to 8,662. - Matt Goodman, WFAA.com

7 p.m. The polls are closed in every county except Travis, where inclement weather this morning forced a judge to extend the polls until 9 p.m. Head here for results as they come in. 

6:17 p.m. The chief elections officer of Harris County reports that the Republican party's precinct conventions are scheduled for after 7 p.m. and may delay results there. Typically, election day staffers will participate in the conventions, during which a political party elects delegates and alternates to Senatorial conventions and adopts various resolutions. 

The Democrats there do not have a convention scheduled this cycle.

“Results may be delayed one or more hours later than usual, because generally the election day staff participates in the precinct convention’s proceedings,” said Stan Stanart, Harris County Clerk and Chief Elections Officer of the County in a statement.  

Three of the four candidates for lieutant governor –– Dewhurst, Patrick and Patterson –– are from Houston. Harris County will likely decide that race. - News 8's Jason Whitely

5:43 p.m. GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott is in a hotel near his campaign headquarters working on his speech to be delivered after the polls close. Current plans are for Abbott to speak between 8 and 9 p.m. - Jason Whitely reporting from San Antonio

5 p.m. Wendy Davis is still at campaign headquarters while volunteers make those calls. She says she's preparing for a pair of high-visibility events in Austin on Wednesday: a speech at the city's Chamber of Commerce and an appearance with a South by Southwest education committee. 

On Thursday, the Texas Tribune will live-stream a forum she's set to be on in Austin. - News 8's Jim Douglas

4 p.m. The Wendy Davis campaign says 12,000 volunteers have made 360,000 calls through Tuesday afternoon. She made a few last minute dials, but it's those volunteers that take on the lion's share of the phone work. 

She said she hopes her supporters turn out at the pools as both a show of strength that will bolster her future volunteer ranks. Davis made a handful of calls Tuesday afternoon but mostly found answering machines and voicemails. - News 8's Jim Douglas

3:20 p.m. Candidates in the GOP primary for lieutenant governor are preparing for a late night.

Team David Dewhurst spent the afternoon making last minute calls to voters. The third-term lieutenant governor is fighting for a fourth. He’s going into this GOP primary with a lead in last week’s Texas Tribune/University of Texas poll.

Dewhurst leads with 37 percent of the likely votes. State Sen. Dan Patrick is his closest competition with 31 percent. Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples follows at 17 percent, then Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson with 15 percent.

Critics question if Dewhurst is politically vulnerable, following his 2012 loss to Ted Cruz in the runoff for Senate and his handling of Wendy Davis filibuster of the anti-abortion bill in the Texas Senate, under his control.

State Sen. Dan Patrick spent the morning greeting voters in Jersey Village, a Houston suburb about 20 miles northwest of the city center.

Staples and Patterson spent their days in Austin. With a total of four GOP candidates, its almost a mathematical certainty that the primary wont be over tonight. The clear winner would have to earn 50 percent of the vote. - News 8's Marie Saavedra

2:58 p.m. State Sen. Wendy Davis, the likely Democratic gubernatorial candidate, sat down with dozens of volunteers to make last minute calls Tuesday afternoon.  Davis made a few, but had to leave messages. She laughed about it.   

She said she’s looking forward to Wednesday, and the rest of the week, when she expects the pace and intensity of the campaign to pick up.  - News 8's Jim Douglas

2:22 p.m. Winter weather in Travis County delayed the opening of some polls in Austin. A judge on Tuesday afternoon extended the voting deadline until 9 p.m., although ballots cast after 7 p.m. will be provisional and not counted until Wednesday. Our sister station KVUE in Austin has more details on this decision. - News 8's Jason Whitely

1:29 p.m. Greg Abbott's two-car motorcade just passed us on I-35 going to San Antonio for his election watch party. I won't tell you how fast we were going, but they passed us. - News 8's Jason Whitely

1:05 p.m. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, his wife, Cecilia, and their daughter, Audrey, 17, voted at Western Hills Church of Christ in Austin during the lunch hour.

Abbott said besides checking his own name for governor, he also voted for U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. Abbott joked that the rest of his ballot would remain secret.

The attorney general also spoke a lot about trying to get the Hispanic vote in the general election. His wife is Hispanic, Abbott announced his candidacy in San Antonio (which has a large Latino population), and his campaign will have an election night watch party there Tuesday night, as well. He has no other public events scheduled for today. - News 8's Jason Whitely

11:04 a.m. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott plans to vote during the lunch hour at Western Hills Church of Christ in Austin. It is the only public event he has scheduled before his election night watch party in San Antonio Tuesday evening.

Sen. Wendy Davis cast her ballot early at the Charles Griffin Sub-Courthouse in Fort Worth on February 18. Davis will attend a phonebank at her campaign headquarters Tuesday afternoon.

Abbott and Davis are presumed the favorites in the Republican and Democratic primaries, respectively, in the race for Texas governor. –News 8's Jason Whitely

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