We finally made it: today is Election Day. While many will be eagerly awaiting the results from statewide candidates and wondering if Texas will elect a Democrat to a top post for the first time in a generation, there’s a slew of important local and county races that will offer some clues as to which direction the state turns.
Tarrant County Judge
There’s been a lot of attention paid to the re-election race Lina Hidalgo is facing in Harris County. However, up north, there’s an equally intriguing race unfolding for Tarrant County Judge. When Glen Whitley announced he wouldn’t run for re-election, it set off a frenzy of Republicans trying to replace him. Former Farmers Branch mayor Tim O’Hare won the nomination and now faces former Tarrant County Democratic Party Chair Deborah Peoples. O’Hare, who has embraced an extreme rightwing agenda, has received several six-figure checks from Republican megadonors. Meanwhile, Peoples was endorsed by The Fort Wort Star-Telegram. Joe Biden narrowly carried Tarrant County in 2020 (as did Beto O’Rourke in 2018). That still hasn’t translated into any county-wide wins for Democrats, but this might be the year.
Congressional Race TX-15
South Texas has received national attention ever since the 2020 election. There are three major races in the area, but the one that is likely the biggest toss-up is TX-15 between political newcomer Michelle Vallejo and Monica De La Cruz, who ran less than three points behind Vicente Gonzalez two years ago (he is now running in TX-34). Vallejo has received visits from both Bernie Sanders and Bill Clinton. Latino Victory Fund has contributed ads on her behalf. And some recent polling shows a deadlocked race. If Vallejo wins, a lot of narratives about the red wave engulfing south Texas will need to be rewritten.
House Districts 70, 108 and 112
All three of these state house races are in North Texas. HD 70 is a changed and open seat in Collin County. Democrat Mihaela Plesa is running against Abbott-backed Jamee Jolly. Though Collin County was traditionally quite red, changing demographics have impacted that notion. This race is very likely a toss-up. There are also close races in Dallas County with HD 108 and HD 112, where two challengers are looking to oust the last two Republican state legislators in the county. Though early voting in Dallas County was lackluster, Elizabeth Ginsberg and Elva Curl helped propel higher turnout in their races.
Bexar County District Attorney
In a race between Democrat Joe Gonzales and Republican Marc LaHood, spending has been off the charts. Marc LaHood is the brother of Nico LaHood, who Gonzales beat in 2018. LaHood has accused Gonzales of being “soft on crime,” and vows to end policies meant to end or curb jail time for low-level and non-violent offenses.
House Districts 118 and 121
These two Bexar County races are like their north Texas counterparts in that they could offer a harbinger of what could happen statewide in Texas. In HD 118, Frank Ramirez is running against current Republican representative John Lujan, who won this race in a special election last year. Republicans spent a lot of money on that race, and crowed about flipping it from blue to red. In HD 121, Becca Moyer DeFelice is challenging current representative Steve Allison, a sponsor for the six-week abortion ban SB 8.
With six candidates in the race, this could head to a runoff. The marquee names in this race include State Rep. Celia Israel and State Senator Kirk Watson, who previously served as mayor of Austin.