Rice expert available to discuss Texas runoff elections May 22

Rice University
Office of Public Affairs / News & Media Relations

David Ruth
713-348-6327
david@rice.edu

Amy McCaig
713-348-6777
amym@rice.edu

Rice expert available to discuss Texas runoff elections May 22

HOUSTON – (May 15, 2018) – As Texans prepare to head to the polls for May 22 runoff elections, Rice University political scientist Mark Jones is available to discuss the races.

Mark Jones

Mark Jones photo courtesy Rice University

“In contrast to the quiet chirping of crickets that normally characterizes Texas Democratic Primary runoffs, the 2018 Democratic runoffs feature a raucous cacophony of loud sounds at the congressional, state and county levels,” Jones said. “At the state level, former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez is facing a serious challenge from Houston businessman Andrew White in the race for the party’s gubernatorial nomination.”

In addition, for the first time this decade, Texas Democrats have a realistic opportunity to flip three Republican-held congressional seats, Jones said.

“All three races involve highly watched runoffs: Lizzie Pannill Fletcher versus Laura Moser in Houston’s 7th Congressional District, Colin Allred versus Lillian Salerno in Dallas’s 32nd Congressional District and Gina Ortiz Jones versus Rick Treviño in the 23rd Congressional District, which stretches from San Antonio to the outskirts of El Paso,” Jones said. “The national Democratic establishment has largely lined up behind Fletcher, Allred and Ortiz Jones, with Moser, Salerno and Treviño challenging their rival from the left.”

Jones said Democrats also have congressional primary runoffs in eight other districts, including two where some of the most optimistic Democrats (but not most neutral observers) believe the Democratic candidate could potentially upset their GOP rival.

“Joseph Kopser is facing Mary Wilson in the 21st Congressional District, which runs from San Antonio to Austin, and MJ Hegar is running against Christine Eady Mann in the 31st Congressional District, which runs from Round Rock to Temple/Killeen,” he said.

Although the Texas Republican Party does not have any statewide runoffs, it does have six congressional runoffs, five of which are in relatively safe Republican districts, meaning the victor will be the heavy favorite, if not a lock, to win in November, Jones said.

“Two of the contests (Ron Wright versus Jake Ellzey in Fort Worth’s 6th Congressional District and Chip Roy versus Matt McCall in the 21st Congressional District, which runs from San Antonio to Austin) are lopsided affairs where one candidate is widely favored over the other,” Jones said. “The other three races feature pitched battles between two relatively equal rivals (Kevin Roberts versus Dan Crenshaw in Houston’s 2nd Congressional District, Lance Gooden versus Bunni Pounds in the 5th Congressional District, which runs from Dallas into East Texas, and Bech Bruun versus Michael Cloud in the 27th Congressional District, which is centered on Corpus Christi, extending northward to the outskirts of Austin and eastward to the outskirts of Houston).”

Jones said the primary runoff features an unusually large number of races — eight total — where the winner has a realistic chance of being elected to the U.S. House in November.

“In a state congressional delegation with only three women (and 33 men), almost half (eight) of the competitors in the 10 highest-profile congressional runoffs are women (one Republican and seven Democrats),” he said. “Also noteworthy among this group of women is Ortiz Jones, who is a strong favorite to win the Democratic primary in the 23rd Congressional District and an even-money bet to win in the fall against Republican incumbent Will Hurd. If Ortiz Jones is victorious in May and November, she will simultaneously become the first Asian-American and openly LGBTQ person to represent Texas in the U.S. Congress.”

At the state legislative level, Jones said, most of the focus will be on six GOP House primaries that feature candidates on opposite sides of the GOP divide, with a movement conservative candidate competing against an establishment conservative. The victors in all but one case will be virtual shoo-ins to win in November, due to the Republican advantage in their districts.

“With the decision of Speaker Joe Straus to not seek re-election, these six primary races take on added importance, since their outcome could have a significant impact on the balance of power between establishment conservative and movement conservative forces within the Texas GOP House Caucus, which will meet in early January to attempt to select the next speaker,” Jones said.

On the Democratic side, Jones said, there are also seven races.

“In two, the Democratic victor will be the heavy favorite in November, in two the Democratic victor has an outside prospect of victory in the fall and in three the Democratic victor has little hope of winning in the general election,” he 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.

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For more information, contact Amy McCaig, senior media relations specialist at Rice, at 713-348-6777 or amym@rice.edu.

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

Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.

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

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About Amy McCaig

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