Monday, November 5, 2018

A San Antonian's Guide to the 2018 Midterm Elections

Posted By on Mon, Nov 5, 2018 at 12:57 PM

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With the Current and other news sources alike informing voters about all the happenings across campaigns happening locally and across Texas for months, the midterm elections are finally here.

Roughly 4.8 million Texas voters (nearly 40 percent of the state's registered voters) cast ballots during the two-week early voting period, with 380,379 in Bexar County. Though Texas' voter participation looks bleak in comparison to other states, those numbers are far greater than the last midterm election in 2014.

Here's why the midterm elections, especially this time around, are so damn important: the election usually results in the president's party losing seats in Congress. And in the age of President Donald Trump, Americans can expect a lot of seats to be shaken up, both at the national and local levels.

The 2018 elections are a milestone for a number of reasons aside from Trump inspiring a wakeup call to many Americans. This year marks the first time in 25 years that Democrats are running in all of Texas' 36 congressional districts. Political analysts argue that a "Blue Wave" may not happen this midterm, but many are arguing that Texas will become more purple in 2018, proof that state politics is changing.



Here's a breakdown of the major races that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot for Bexar County voters.

U.S. Senator

R: In what was expected to be an easy win for junior Senator Ted Cruz, the U.S. Senate race in Texas has become one of the most-watched races in the midterm elections. Recent polls show Cruz leading his Democratic rival by as little as three points.

D: U.S. Congressman Beto O'Rourke, an El Paso native, has reportedly raised just over $69 million for his campaign. He's relied on zero political action committee dollars, visited all 254 counties in Texas and has become a likable contender that's gotten support (both financial and vocal endorsements) from local and national celebrities.

U.S. House District 21

R: Eighteen conservatives lined up during the primaries to replace Congressman Lamar Smith. After a runoff against Matt McCall, Chip Roy won out to represent Texas in Capitol Hill. He was the former chief of staff to Sen. Cruz and senior advisor to Rick Perry. He's a former federal prosecutor as well as former first assistant attorney general of Texas.

D: The Dem's ticket is less packed but also needed a runoff, with Joseph Kopser beating out Mary Wilson. Kopser is a U.S. Army veteran, having been deployed in Iraq, and was previously the president of an advisory and analytics firm, Grayline. He has been a member of the board of directors for the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and chairman and co-founder of Bunker Labs Austin.

L: Representing the Libertarian party is Lee Santos, a beer hops farmer. Santos is all about marijuana legalization, women's rights and is against the wall, war, federal government control and excessive taxation.

U.S. House District 23

R: Will Hurd is aiming to keep his current job representing Texas' largest district — sweeping from San Antonio's West Side all the way to El Paso County. Hurd has tried to appeal as a moderate, disagreeing with Trump on DACA and immigration, but has been criticized for his voting record on environmental issues.

D: Gina Ortiz Jones beat out Rick Trevino in the primaries to secure the Democratic ticket against Hurt. Though attack ads label her as "liberal Jones," the former Air Force intelligence officer has proven to be tough competition for Hurd.

Governor

R:
Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to have an easy win over his Democratic rival. He's been in Texas politics since 1993, previously serving on the Texas Supreme Court and as attorney general of Texas. Abbott has been governor since 2015.

D: The Democratic nominee is former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez. After a runoff election in which she defeated Andrew White, Valdez has kept her campaigning minimal leading up to the midterms. Though she gained popularity for being the first Latina and first openly-gay candidate nominated by a major party for the governor's office, her fundraising is far less than Abbott's.

L: Mark Tippetts is the Libertarian nominee, and said he will "oppose Trump and his wall." He previously ran for judge in the Travis County Court in 2010.

Lieutenant Governor

R: Current Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is vying to keep his spot at the helm of the state Senate. He came into his seat the same year Abbott was elected governor, in 2015. He previously served in the Texas State Senate from 2007 to 2015.

D: After winning the primary election against education reform advocate Michael Cooper, former Texas Democratic Party finance chair Mike Collier hopes to kick Patrick out of office. Collier has previously worked at Exxon and is the founder and CFO of a Texas oil company.

L: Kerry McKennon will represent the Libertarian Party and is running "to limit the role of government intrusion into our lives."

Public Lands Commissioner

R: Incumbent Commissioner George P. Bush (son of Jeb) had made headlines for his role in the major in controversial Alamo redesign project, of which he holds the reins. With conservative Texans not liking how Bush is handling the project, he heads up a department most would not care about otherwise.

D: Democrats have joined the Alamo tug-of-war, too. Energy attorney and former U.S. Senate staffer Miguel Suazo hopes to unseat Bush, who he said has failed Texans. His tagline is to "remember the Alamo, not re-imagine it."

L: Matt Piña is the Libertarian nominee. According to his campaign's Facebook, he is a descendant of an Alamo defender and hopes to save the Cenotaph that is central to the department's controversial project.

State Senator District 25

R: Socially-conservative incumbent Senator Donna Campbell beat out the more moderate, education-focused opponent Shannon McClendon in the primary election. Campbell has been in the position for five years and has served on committees for commerce, education and veteran affairs and border security.

D: Progressive IT consultant Steven Kling beat out former city planner Jack Guerra for his place on the Democratic ticket. Kling is a former U.S. Army captain.

State Representative District 116

D: Trey Martinez Fischer narrowly beat out incumbent Diana Arévalo in the primary election. Fischer previously held the seat before vacating his office in 2015 for a failed run against Jose Menéndez for Leticia Van de Putte's open Senate seat.

R: The lesser-known Fernando Padron is the face of the GOP in the race. He has a master's degree in public policy and administration from UTSA.

State Representative District 117

D: In the "most competitive House district in Texas," incumbent Philip Cortez will try to keep hold of his seat. He held the position from 2013 to 2015, but lost in 2014 to Republican Rick Galindo. He re-won his seat in the 2016 election.

R: CPA and real-estate broker Mike Berlanga, who has deep San Antonio roots, will face off against Cortez. Previously, Berlanga unsuccessfully challenged then-Senator Carlos Uresti and his brother, Bexar County Tax Assessor-Collector Albert Uresti.

State Representative District 121

R: Republicans lined up to replace former House Speaker Joe Straus. Steve Allison defeated Matt Beebe in a primary runoff. Allison has a career as a business attorney and previously served as an Alamo Heights ISD school board member.

D: Former Texas Public Radio reporter Celina Montoya will be on the Democratic ticket. The Alamo Heights grad also previously served as the vice president of community engagement for Alamo Fireworks.

L: Mallory Olfers is the Libertarian candidate in this race.

State Representative District 122

R: Rep. Lyle Larson is seeking reelection, beating out Chris Fails, who had been backed by Governor Abbott, in the primary election. Larson is considered Abbott's "most outspoken critic among Republicans in the lower chamber." He's held the HD 122 seat since 2010 and previously served as a San Antonio city council member and Bexar County commissioner.

D: Claire Barnett, an educator, hopes to unseat Larson. She has experience as a technical adviser and senior instructional designer with Atlas Research.

State Representative District 124


D: Incumbent Ina Minjarez, who has been in HD 124 office since 2015, is running for reelection. In 2017, Minjarez held committee seats for human services and transportation. She was the Assistant Criminal District Attorney in the Bexar County District Attorney's Office from 2000 to 2006.

R: The Republican contender is Johnny Arrendondo, a former college basketball referee who unsuccessfully ran for the City Council District 4 seat last year.

Bexar County District Attorney

D: After a nasty primary election, attorney Joe Gonzales beat out incumbent DA Nico LaHood, who had previously threatened the 59-year-old lawyer in court, prompting Gonzales to force him out of office.

R: Repping the GOP is Tylden Shaeffer, a criminal defense lawyer and former assistant criminal district attorney in the DA's office (pre-LaHood).

County Commissioner Precinct 2

D: Now in his early 80s, incumbent Paul Elizondo narrowly beat out Queta Rodriguez, a former marine who advocated for stronger leadership, in a runoff election in the primaries. Elizondo has held his County Commissioner position since 1988.

R: Theresa Connolly will be on the Republican ticket. According to her campaign's Facebook, she backs pro-life initiatives and respecting the flag.

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