Early Voting Starts Tuesday for Primary Elections

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Campaign signs are posted along Hildebrand Avenue next to the entrance of U.S. Highway 281.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Campaign signs are posted along Hildebrand Avenue next to the entrance of U.S. Highway 281.

The 2018 election cycle for statewide offices and Congressional midterms kicks off Tuesday with the start of early voting for the March 6 primary election.

San Antonians have the opportunity this year to vote for representatives to the U.S. Senate, the 21st and 23rd congressional districts, several statewide positions including governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, district attorney, and commissioner seats among others.

Click here for early voting information, here for sample ballots, and here to check your registration status. The deadline to register to vote in the primaries was Feb. 5. Polls are open every day of the week during the 11-day early voting period.

Texas is an open-primary state, so voters choose at the polls which ballot they want to vote on: Democrat or Republican. However, in the case of a May 22 runoff in any of the races, voters must vote in the same party they chose in the primary. You don’t have to vote in a primary to vote in the November general election, where voters can vote for either party. The last day to register for the Nov. 6 election is Tuesday, Oct. 9.

Chairs for the Bexar County Democratic and Republican parties are also on the ballots, but for now here’s an overview of the main races:

Governor

Nine Democrats are running to represent the party for the Texas Governor’s race, including primary frontrunners former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and Houston businessman Andrew White. Incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott faces two Republican primary opponents, but they are not expected to draw a significant amount of voters away from Abbott, who has more than $43 million in the bank.

Lieutenant Governor

Incumbent Dan Patrick faces Scott Milder in the Republican primary. The lone challenger is a businessman and former Rockwall City Council member.

Mike Collier is one of two Democrats vying for the position. Collier, the former treasurer of the Texas Democratic Party, lists property tax and public education reform as his top issues. Michael Cooper, a retired auto dealer sales manager, is running to increase education in the state.

U.S. House District 21

There are 22 candidates currently in the race for Texas’ 21st Congressional District, held by U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) for the last 31 years. Smith announced his retirement in November, prompting 18 Republicans and four Democrats to seek the seat. Republican candidates include State Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs); Chip Roy, former chief of staff of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas); and former Bexar County Republican Party Chairman Robert Stovall.

U.S. House District 23

The primary for Texas’ 23rd Congressional District, which includes much of the Texas border with Mexico, has incumbent U.S. Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) facing a lone Republican challenger and five Democratic hopefuls.

Hurd is a San Antonio native and a former undercover officer with the Central Intelligence Agency. Alma Arredondo-Lynch is a Uvalde-based dentist and rancher by trade and lists repealing Obamacare as her top issue.

Rick Treviño, who ran for San Antonio City Council District 6 in May 2017, is running against former Air Force intelligence officer Gina Ortiz Jones and former San Antonio federal prosecutor Jay Hulings in the Democratic primary.

U.S. Senator

Four Republicans are running against incumbent Senator Cruz to represent Texas, but the larger challenge appears to come from across the aisle. State Rep Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) is the “clear frontrunner” of three in the Democratic primary, according the the Texas Tribune. O’Rourke, who refuses to accept campaign funding from political action committees, has been raising more money than Cruz. The incumbent, however, maintains more cash on hand.

State Rep. District 122

Abbott recently weighed in on the race for Texas House District 122, endorsing Chris Fails, mayor of Hollywood Park, over incumbent State Rep. Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio).

Larson, an outspoken critic of Abbott, chairs the House Natural Resources Committee and has served four terms.

The governor criticized Larson for not supporting efforts to reform property taxes. Larson told the Rivard Report he found that accusation “misinformed.” Fails said he would support the governor’s agenda, particularly noting his support for his plan to address property tax reform at the next legislative session.

State Rep. District 121

Seven candidates – six Republicans and one Democrat – are running to succeed House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio), who announced in October that he would not seek re-election.

Several of Republican candidates have been elected to public offices, including former San Antonio City Council member Carlton Soules (D10), or have run for the district seat before, such as Matt Beebe.

Land Commissioner

Four republican candidates are running in the primary for Commissioner of the General Land Office, including incumbent George P. Bush and former Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson. Two Democratic candidates are running to represent the party in the race.

Bush, as leader of the department, oversees the restoration of the Alamo. Patterson, who uses an image of the Alamo in his logo, is attempting to retake his former position because he does not believe the $300 million project is being handled properly.

Miguel Suazo, a lawyer and one of the Democratic candidates, says Bush failed to protect the Alamo and properly assist recovery efforts in Houston after Hurricane Harvey. Tex Morgan, a computer engineer and democratic candidate, also believes recovery efforts have not been handled properly, and adds that there should be better transparency in the land commissioner’s office.

Commissioner of Agriculture

Two Republicans are challenging incumbent Texas Commissioner of Agriculture Sid Miller, who said during a recent debate that he worked over his first term in the seat to restore order in the office, according to the Texas Tribune. Trey Blocker, a former lobbyist, said “I want to restore honesty, integrity and fiscal responsibility to the Department of Agriculture.”

Bexar County District Attorney

Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood faces one Democratic primary opponent, Joe Gonzales. The two have a history of conflict as LaHood allegedly threatened to destroy Gonzales’ law practice. The lawsuit that Gonzales filed ended in a mistrial. Tylden Shaeffer, local defense attorney and former Bexar County prosecutor, is the lone Republican candidate in the race.

Bexar County Commissioner (Pct. 2)

Bexar County Commissioner Paul Elizondo (Pct. 2) faces two Democratic challengers, Mario Bravo and Queta Rodriguez. Each is competing against Elizondo’s 32 years of experience at the post, and neither have held public office before. Bravo wants to govern with community health in mind, and Rodriguez wants to strive for more economic developments in her precinct.

Ismael Garcia and Theresa Connolly are the two Republican candidates running in the primary for the position.

Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Calvert (Pct. 4) is up for re-election, but faces no challengers.

Voter Turnout

Bexar County had more than a million registered voters in 2016, but less than half of those voters cast a ballot in that election cycle, according to the Texas Secretary of State.

A 2018 Texas Civic Health Index found that political participation in the state “remains extremely low.”

One reason for low participation is that voters “are too busy or couldn’t vote because of the time commitments to work,” said Susan Nold, director of the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life and a contributor to the report. She told the Rivard Report on Friday that “early voting in Texas is one way to address that problem of not having time to vote.”

“However early voting is only useful if county election offices are making early voting opportunities accessible and known to voters,” Nold said. “This varies by county.”

There are 38 early voting locations across San Antonio and Bexar County. Voters can cast a ballot at any of them during the two week early voting period. However, on primary election day, March 6, voters in Bexar County must go to the polling location tied to the residential address on their voter registration. To find that location, click here.

Polls are open every day of the week during the 11-day early voting period.

Voters must arrive at the polls with a valid form of photo identification.

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