Rice political scientist available to discuss March 6 Texas primary

Rice University
Office of Public Affairs / News & Media Relations


David Ruth

Amy McCaig

Rice political scientist available to discuss March 6 Texas primary

HOUSTON – (March 5, 2018) – As Texas voters prepare to head to the polls tomorrow, Rice University political scientist Mark Jones is available to discuss the current election dynamics in the Lone Star State.

Mark Jones

Mark Jones photo courtesy Rice University

“Unlike in the 2010 and 2014 primaries when there was a sharp contrast between the energy and excitement in the Republican primary and the crickets chirping in the Democratic primary, in 2018 Democrats have more than a dozen high-energy primaries taking place across the state,” Jones said. “This is primarily at the federal level, where Democrats hope several candidates chosen this spring will be able to flip U.S. House seats presently held by Republicans, and in doing so return the Democrats to majority status in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

Jones said the Democratic primaries in the 7th, 23rd and 32nd congressional districts each have multiple top-tier candidates who are competing for one of the “two coveted golden tickets” to a May 22 runoff.

“In the 7th Congressional District alone, the Democratic candidates have already spent more money than every single Democrat challenging a Republican during the entire 2016 electoral cycle (excluding the 23rd Congressional District),” Jones said. “In the 2nd, 21st and 31st congressional districts, Democrats still retain hope that a perfect storm could propel the right Democratic candidate to victory in November.”

Jones said that in the dark-blue 16th and 20th congressional districts, Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia are vying to become the first Latina member of Congress in the Lone Star State’s 174-year history, but first have to overcome stiff challenges by Dori Fenenbock (16th Congressional District) and Tahir Javed (29th Congressional District), the latter of whom is trying to become the first Pakistani-American to be elected to Congress.

On the Republican side of the aisle, he said, most attention is focused on approximately two dozen battles in “the ongoing GOP civil war.”

“These races primarily feature offensives by the conservative wing of the party, which is attempting to eliminate the last vestiges of centrist conservatism in the Texas Senate and winnow the ranks of centrist conservatives in the Texas House,” Jones said.

At the congressional level, GOP primaries of interest include the 2nd Congressional District where political novice Kathaleen Wall has already invested millions of her own money in an attempt to win the seat being vacated by Congressman Ted Poe.

“She will be forced into a runoff (or kept out of a runoff) by her rivals, most prominent of which are Texas State Rep. Kevin Roberts and Dan Crenshaw,” Jones said. “Meanwhile, in the 21st Congressional District, 18 Republicans are competing for one of two slots in the runoff for the right to succeed Congressman Lamar Smith. In the 5th Congressional District, there is a similar number of Republicans competing to enter the May 22 runoff.”

Lastly, the Democratic gubernatorial primary features two candidates, Andrew White and Lupe Valdez. Both candidates have their own distinct vision of how best to return the Texas Democratic Party to majority status.

“The victor, which will likely not be determined until the May runoff, will earn the right to be handily defeated by Gov. Greg Abbott in November,” Jones said.

Jones, the Joseph D. Jamail Chair in Latin American Studies and professor of political science in Rice’s School of Social Sciences, is also a fellow at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and Rice’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research. He is a leading expert on Texas politics and a frequent contributor to Texas media outlets. His research on the Texas Legislature has been cited widely in the media as well as by numerous political campaigns.

To schedule an interview with Jones, contact him directly at 832-466-6535.

Rice University has a VideoLink ReadyCam TV interview studio. ReadyCam is capable of transmitting broadcast-quality standard-definition and high-definition video directly to all news media organizations around the world 24/7.


This news release can be found online at http://news.rice.edu.

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Related materials:

Mark Jones bio: https://www.bakerinstitute.org/experts/mark-p-jones/

Photo link: http://news.rice.edu/files/2014/09/mark-jones.jpg

Photo credit: Jeff Fitlow

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About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.