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Friday, January 15, 2021

Ex-GOP lawmaker wins Railroad Commission runoff, other state race results

Ex-GOP lawmaker wins Railroad Commission runoff

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Latest on Texas’ primary runoff elections (all times local):

10:30 p.m.

Former state lawmaker Wayne Christian has won the Republican nomination for a surprise opening on the Texas Railroad Commission, which is dealing with uncertainty following the oil bust.

Christian’s runoff victory Tuesday over real estate mogul Gary Gates makes him the immediate favorite to win in November and replace outgoing Commissioner David Porter. That’s because no Texas Democrat has won a statewide election since 1994.

Democrat Grady Yarbrough will face Christian after winning his own runoff Tuesday.

Porter didn’t announce until December that he wouldn’t seek re-election to the three-member commission. That set off a scramble at a pivotal time for the agency that regulates the oil and gas industry.

Dozens of oil producers have gone bankrupt and commissioners have already told lawmakers they’ll ask for more funding in 2017.

9:50 p.m.

A political newcomer in the Rio Grande Valley is moving onto November in his bid to claim one of two open congressional races in Texas.

McAllen attorney Vicente Gonzalez won his Democratic runoff Tuesday in the race to replace longtime U.S. Rep. Reuben Hinojosa, who is retiring after nearly 20 years in Congress. Gonzalez instantly becomes the favorite in the South Texas district that has been reliably Democrat since Hinojosa took office in 1997.

He will face either Army veteran Tim Westley or former Rio Grande City Mayor Reuben Villarreal, who were in their own Republican runoff Tuesday night.

Hinojosa made immigration and education two of his biggest issues while representing the district that runs from outside San Antonio to the Texas-Mexico border. His retirement set off a primary scramble similar to one in West Texas, where Republican congressman Randy Neugebauer is also retiring.

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8:45 p.m.

A former aide to President George W. Bush has won the Republican primary runoff for an open congressional seat in West Texas.

Jodey Arrington on Tuesday night captured his party’s nomination to replace outgoing Republican congressman Randy Neugebauer. The vice chairman of the House Agriculture Committee is retiring after seven terms representing the deeply conservative and sprawling rural district.

Arrington will have no Democratic challenger in November.

Arrington is a former Texas Tech vice chancellor with close ties to the old guard of Texas Republican powerbrokers. He was endorsed by former Gov. Rick Perry and counts the Bush family among his supporters.

Neugebauer is one of two longtime Texas congressman calling it quits this year. The other is Democrat Reuben Hinojosa, who is stepping down from his South Texas district after nearly 20 years in office.

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8:30 p.m.

A boost from former presidential candidate Ted Cruz may have helped an East Texas Republican win the nomination for a state Senate seat.

Bryan Hughes beat David Simpson on Tuesday night in a primary runoff between the two state House members. Cruz called Hughes a “conservative fighter” in recorded phone messages to voters.

Cruz seldom gets involved in legislative races and has been mostly quiet since ending his White House run. But the raucous support the U.S. senator drew at the Texas Republican Convention earlier this month was a reminder of his influence with GOP voters statewide.

No Democrats bothered to run in the solidly conservative senate district. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who controls the Senate, had also endorsed Hughes to replace outgoing Republican Sen. Kevin Eltife.

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12:45 p.m.

Republican voters in East Texas are deciding whether to nominate a retired schoolteacher who believes dinosaurs and humans co-existed to the influential state education board.

The most closely watched primary runoff in Texas on Tuesday is whether Mary Lou Bruner prevails. The 69-year-old Bruner nearly won the nomination outright in March despite a lengthy Facebook history of posting fringe beliefs and conspiracy theories.

Bruner has claimed President Barack Obama was a gay prostitute and that Democrats plotted to kill John F. Kennedy.

No other runoff races have garnered nearly as much attention. Both Republican and Democratic primary voters are also choosing candidates for a handful of congressional seats and a spot on the Texas Railroad Commission.

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