To say that the Harris County Republican primary results are interesting is to understate the confusion that I have regarding the results. It was certainly a mixed bag around the county, with the traditional slates doing quite well but losing in their attempt to replace the party chair. While we wait for the gurus to tell us what really happened, here are a few observations.
Sarah Davis kicks Greg Abbott’s ass
I said that I hoped for a blowout and sure enough, the voters in HD134 delivered. Sarah Davis creamed Greg Abbott and his hand picked opponent Susanna Dokupil by 13 points. In a way it’s a shame because Dokupil is not the caricature that she became due to Abbott’s thin-skinned personality and his lying attacks on Davis. But she chose to lie in bed with the governor, so she deserves whatever happened to her.
And for those of you saying this was Abbott’s attempt to push his conservative principles over Davis’ liberal tendencies, just stop. Does Greg Abbott have any core principles? Besides raising money and keeping the office? If he does, he surely hasn’t shown it. Make no mistake, the attacks on Sarah Davis, Lyle Larson and Wayne Faircloth were about their attempts to stop his shameless cronyism.
Money can buy love but sometimes it can’t buy an election
In a way, the fact that Kathaleen Wall spent at least $6 million to buy a seat in Congress and then didn’t finish in the top two is a shame. It’s a shame because of the way her consultants fleeced her – I’m betting that each of her consultants made their entire yearly budgets off of their failures to run a good campaign. Clearly there was no ground game, as her campaign was solely based upon saturating broadcast radio and television, as well as sending a mailer a day. And those consultants get 10-15% of those media ad buys.
Is no one in her orbit capable of telling her the truth? She needs new friends, real friends that will speak honestly and are not there simply to make a buck or three.
37% of Harris County Republicans do not want to abolish abortion
That 37% is only 5 points higher than the statewide vote. Are corrupt groups like Texas Right to Life turning Republican voters away from the abortion issue? Are voters beginning to understand that for some anti-abortion groups, such as Texas Right to Life, money trumps the moral issue?
The blue wave didn’t happen?
I find it perplexing that Republicans around the state are saying that there was no “blue wave” in Texas. Perhaps they have given up on Harris County and are content to rely upon the rural vote? That would be short term thinking given the growing influence in the urban areas.
And if it is perplexing to me to see statewide candidates saying that, it is shocking that Harris County Republican officials are saying it. Do they not understand what happened?
November is a long ways away and perhaps things will change and Republican voters will outnumber Democratic voters as they normally do in gubernatorial cycles. But honestly, just between me, you and the fencepost, what energy are Republican candidates going to bring to the table?
At the top of the ticket, we have Sen. Ted Cruz. Admit it, Ted no longer has the outsider aura that he had when he first ran and nobody knew him. Now we know he is just another politician, albeit one that probably reflects the values of Texans more than his Democratic opponent. But is that exciting? Make you want to run to the polls? I can tell you anecdotally that Beto O’Rourke has a buzz surrounding his campaign and while it probably will not help him statewide, it will surely help him in Harris County – which means down ballot Republicans have a problem.
And then we have Greg Abbott. Whatever.
Next up is Dan Patrick. Excitement much? I don’t think so. While Dan did better in Harris County than he did around the state, he still had double the number of Republican voters vote against him than voted against Abbott.
Ken Paxton? Seriously?
Well, we always have Ed Emmett to fall back on, right? Perhaps there will be enough crossover voters to keep him at the helm of the county. But are those crossover voters going to vote for other Republicans? Stan Stanart? Chris Daniel?
The slates did their thing but what about November?
The Big 3 slates did okay for the people that paid them. We’ll take a deeper look at that later but for now it is probably enough to say that they weakened the party’s chances in November. Why?
For one thing, they were able to get lesser qualified judges over the finish line. On an individual level, that really doesn’t matter as judicial races in November aren’t about individual qualifications. Think Kevin Fine. The problem is at the macro level where Democrats are going to be able to message that Republicans nominated candidates that simply aren’t qualified. You really should read Judge Jay Karahan’s piece about this.
The irony is that the judges that did pay to help elect unqualified candidates put their own jobs in jeopardy with their decision to fund the slates. You are only as strong as your weakest link when you do that. And my oh my, there are some weak links that got nominated last Tuesday.
So Paul Simpson stays chair, now what?
You want to know who the luckiest guy is in this election? Chris Carmona. He probably doesn’t think that right now but then again, he isn’t the guy that has to be the front man for a group of dysfunctional Republicans. There are Republican nominees up and down the ballot that do not know how to raise money. And it is going to take a LOT of money if Republicans are going to be able to overcome the Democrat enthusiasm in November.
Obviously, I’m talking about the county wide races when I talk about the possibility of Republicans losing in November. The gerrymandered positions should be fine. For all of the bluster from the Democrats about beating John Culberson in November, it is notable that Republican turnout vs Democratic in CD7 was 53.8%-46.2%. And in Precinct 2, Republicans turned out 30,204 voters while Democrats had 27,176. Jack Morman will have a tough race but if he runs a good get out the vote campaign, he should be fine.
So who does Simpson turn to for help? The slate guys haven’t shown any willingness to work with him. Several of the consultants that we normally look to ran very poor campaigns for their clients and lost. Maybe, just maybe, it is time to ask people like Sarah Davis and Patricia Harless for their thoughts on winning in Harris County. And perhaps it is time to break the county into smaller units with different messaging to different segments of the county. But hey, what do I know?