By Ed Sterling, Texas Press Association
Candidates line up for party primaries
AUSTIN – Texas’ primary election is set for March 4, 2014, and the list of candidates for statewide office is largely settled, with Dec. 9 as the filing deadline.
Most recently gaining notice was state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, who announced her candidacy for lieutenant governor on Nov. 23. Van de Putte has 22 years of experience as a state lawmaker – eight years as a state representative and 14 years as a senator. She serves as chair of the Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs and Military Installations. Van de Putte and her colleague Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, who is seeking the Texas Democratic Party’s nomination for governor, form the nucleus of an effort to end a 20-year Republican sweep in statewide elections. Also seeking the Texas Democratic Party’s nomination for lieutenant governor is Seadrift Municipal Court Judge Reynaldo “Ray” Madrigal.
State Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican, is campaigning to succeed Rick Perry as governor. Last summer, Perry chose not to seek another term in the office he has occupied since 2001 and speculation about his mounting a second run for the presidency continues. Also running for the Republican Party of Texas’ gubernatorial nomination are former Univision personality Miriam Martinez of the Rio Grande Valley, author and former radio show host Lisa Fritsch of Austin and secessionist Larry S. Kilgore of Arlington.
4 Republicans to vie
While incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has presided over the Senate since January 2003, he appears unready to change his job description. Dewhurst, who explored and passed on a possible run for governor, faces a field of three of his fellow Republicans in the GOP primary: Texas Land Commissioner and former state lawmaker Jerry Patterson, Agriculture Commissioner and former state senator Todd Staples, and state Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston, chair of the Senate Education Committee.
4 seek to be next AG
In the race to succeed Greg Abbott as state attorney general is Houston attorney Sam Houston, a Democrat, the lone candidate seeking his party’s nomination. Seeking the Republican Party’s nomination are Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman of Austin, state Rep. Dan Branch of Dallas, chairman of the House Higher Education Committee; and freshman state Sen. Ken Paxton of McKinney, vice chair of the Senate Transportation Committee and former House member (2003-2012).
4 running for comptroller
Seeking the Texas GOP nomination for comptroller of public accounts, to succeed Susan Combs as the state’s chief financial officer, are Republicans Harvey Hilderbran of Kerrville, chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means; Sen. Glenn Hegar of Katy, chair of the Senate Committee on Nominations; and Debra Medina of Wharton, a registered nurse, tea party activist and GOP primary candidate for governor in 2010. Accounting executive and energy company chief financial officer Mike Collier of Kingwood is running for comptroller on the Democratic ticket.
5 after Ag Dept. role
Now in primary races for the top spot at the Texas Department of Agriculture are Republicans J. Allen Carnes of Uvalde, former state Rep. Tommy Merritt of Longview, Karnes City rancher and attorney Eric Opiela, former state Rep. Sid Miller of Stephenville. Democrat Jim Hogan of Cleburne is seeking his party’s nomination for agriculture commissioner. Whoever wins election in November will succeed Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, who is running for lieutenant governor.
Incumbent chief justice files
Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht, a Republican, has filed for candidacy to retain his current position. Hecht, who has been a member of the high court since 1988, was appointed chief justice on Sept. 10 and was sworn in on Oct. 1. He succeeded fellow Republican Wallace Jefferson. As of Dec. 1, no Democrat had filed as a candidate for chief justice.
TxDOT has repair plan
The Texas Department of Transportation on Nov. 26 announced a resolution to manage the maintenance of roads heavily used by energy companies in LaSalle County, where cheap patches on damaged stretches were proposed to the Texas Legislature last summer, due to budget tightening.
TxDOT leaders said they have agreed with La Salle County to share responsibility in repairing roads in need and maintaining them over time and agreements with other affected counties in the region are being worked on. Counties will purchase the materials while TxDOT will perform repairs and provide labor. “Once fixed, the county will take over maintenance of the roads and be responsible for them for five years or until traffic in those energy areas drops off,” according to TxDOT’s statement.