Your vote counts: WFAA's Texas voter guide for the 2018 midterm election
The U.S. Senate race between incumbent Ted Cruz and Democrat challenger Beto O'Rourke is the most competitive statewide race Texas has seen in years. But there's plenty of other races to know heading into the midterms. We break them down here.
Author: Berna Steptoe, Jason Whitely
Published: 12:47 PM CDT October 25, 2018
Updated: 6:23 PM CDT October 30, 2018
NEWS 14 Articles
EXPLORE

Your vote counts: WFAA's Texas voter guide for the 2018 midterm election

NEWS
Chapter 1

U.S. Senate

This is the most competitive statewide race Texas has seen in years. Ted Cruz is looking for a second six-year-term against a well-funded El Paso congressman, Beto O’Rourke, who has made it a point to visit every single county in Texas – something Cruz has not done. Polls show Cruz is ahead but Beto remains a strong candidate able to fundraise and attract large crowds to campaign events.

Chapter 2

6th Congressional District – (Arlington, Ennis & Navarro counties)

For the first time in years, this will be an open congressional seat. GOP Congressman Joe Barton – the most veteran Texan in Congress – is resigning after an inappropriate selfie surfaced last November. This is a Republican drawn district, but the GOP might have to fight for this seat. Tarrant County Tax-Assessor Collector Ron Wright is the Republican running against Jana Lynne Sanchez, a public relations executive and former journalist, who’s the Democrat.

Chapter 3

32nd Congressional District – (Dallas County)

Incumbent Pete Sessions is running for re-election. But Democrats say they think Sessions is vulnerable because this district – North Dallas, parts of East Dallas, Garland and part of Plano – rejected Trump and voted narrowly for Hillary Clinton in November 2016. Because of that, Democrats are most confident they have a chance in this seat. Collin Allred, a Dallas civil rights attorney and former NFL player, has generated lots of talk, energy and money as the Democrat in this race.

Chapter 4

Governor

Incumbent Republican Governor Greg Abbott faces a weak challenge from former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez. Abbott, the most popular politician in Texas, according to polls, is ahead of Valdez by 20-points in recent surveys. Valdez has struggled to define her positions on policy issues.

Chapter 5

Lieutenant Governor

Dan Patrick is running for his second-term as lieutenant governor. The Republican incumbent faces a vocal challenge from Democrat Mike Collier. Patrick has laid low with few public appearances during the campaign while Collier has traveled the state talking to voters, journalists and editorial boards.

Chapter 6

Texas Attorney General

Incumbent Ken Paxton is running for his second-term and facing a challenge from Democrat Justin Nelson. Paxton, who is awaiting criminal trial on securities fraud, has apparently not been harmed politically by the prosecution that has dragged on for years. Still, Nelson has fought to make Paxton’s criminal charge front and center in the campaign.

Chapter 7

Texas Agriculture Commissioner

Sid Miller has been controversial since day one on the job as Texas Agriculture Commissioner. Democrats are working hard to crack a statewide seat and think this might be their opportunity. Miller doesn’t get a lot of Republican support when he makes outlandish comments or posts on social media, but he’s a Tea Partier and known as Trump’s “man in Texas.” His Democratic opponent is Kim Olson, a rancher with a military background. She’s a strong candidate but it’s uncertain if that’s enough to oust Miller.

Chapter 8

Texas Senate District 10

This is a swing district carved up in Tarrant County. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, won it after Wendy Davis gave it up to run for governor in 2014. Burton is the incumbent and running for re-election. Democrats think they might be able to take it back with former Burleson ISD school board member Beverly Powell. The two candidates had testy exchanges – even in a debate on WFAA’s Inside Texas Politics.

Chapter 9

Texas House District 114

State Rep. Jason Villalba lost his primary race to Lisa Luby Ryan, a Dallas interior designer. It’s uncertain if she can get enough support to succeed him though. Democrats are targeting this seat and think they can win it. John Turner, a Dallas attorney from East Texas, is the Dem running. His father was long-time East Texas Congressman Jim Turner.

Chapter 10

Texas House District 115

This is northwest Dallas County – from DFW Airport through Carrollton to parts of Addison. State Rep. Matt Rinaldi is defending his seat from a strong challenge by Democrat Julie Johnson. This is a close race and even some Republicans say Rinaldi is in trouble. Bennett Ratliff, the Republican who held this seat before Rinaldi defeated him, has even backed Johnson. She is a Dallas attorney who moved into the district to run.

Chapter 11

District Attorney Dallas County

Democrats want this seat back. It’s the only county-wide seat that Dems no longer hold. Republican Faith Johnson was appointed to the seat in 2016 after Susan Hawk resigned for mental health reasons. Johnson, the Republican nominee, has worked hard to reach out to voters in the southern part of the county that Democrats traditionally rely on. She won praise after prosecuting former Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver for killing an unarmed black teenager. But Johnson faced questions and even some criticism in the shooting death of Botham Jean – a black man shot to death in his own apartment by a Dallas police officer who mistakenly entered his home. Johnson faces Democrat John Creuzot, a former judge. Creuzot barely squeaked out a victory in the primary. This will be a fight for Democratic votes in the southern sector. Johnson thinks she can win them but this area is historically Democratic.

Chapter 12

Dallas ISD property tax increase

In August, Dallas ISD board members voted to put a measure on the November ballot letting citizens decide whether to raise their property taxes by $0.13 per $100 of appraised value. It took DISD a while to have the votes to make this a public referendum. Dallas ISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa wants to use the additional money to give teachers and staff a pay raise. Leftover cash will go to savings. The district is so confident this tax increase will pass, the board already included the additional money in the 2019 budget that trustees passed in June.

Chapter 13

Arlington Term Limits

The same group that successfully got rid of red light cameras in Arlington a few years ago is now trying to get a referendum passed to impose term limits on city council. If approved, they would be retroactive and immediately mean five members of council could not run again. Supporters of this measure include the Arlington Municipal Patrolman's Association. The other police union, the Arlington Police Association, opposes the measure. Mayor Jeff Williams and others say term limits could hurt economic growth that Arlington has been successful with recently. Williams and others worry that big businesses might not want to relocate to Arlington if the official they did a deal with is gone in a couple years.

Chapter 14

Bios

Jason Whitely is a Senior News Reporter at WFAA in Dallas and host of Inside Texas Politics, a weekly political broadcast that airs Sunday at 9 a.m. on Channel 8. Jason is based in the Dallas newsroom and recently co-moderated the second and final debate between Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke.

Berna Dean Steptoe is the political producer at WFAA. More than a decade ago, she helped launch Inside Texas Politics, WFAA’s weekly political program that’s broadcast on Sunday at 9:00 a.m. In addition to producing, Steptoe is also a member of the roundtable on-air.

Bud Kennedy is a homegrown Fort Worth guy who started out covering high school football here when he was 16. He went away to the Fort Worth Press and newspapers in Austin and Dallas, then came home in 1981. Since 1987, he's written more than 1,000 weekly dining columns and more than 3,000 news and politics columns. If you don't like what he says about politics, read him on barbecue.