Candidates file for 2014 Texas races

Dave Montgomery Austin Correspondent AUSTIN – The state’s political lineup for 2014 took shape Monday as the final spate of candidates climbed into the March 4 primary races in advance of a late-afternoon filing deadline. Hundreds of Democratic and Republican hopefuls – ranging from well-funded heavy-weights to fringe contenders with little hope of success – are bidding for their parties’ nomination in statewide and local contests that won’t conclude until the November general election. As expected, the state’s leading gubernatorial contenders – Democrat Wendy Davis and Republican Greg Abbott – escaped a serious primary challenge. But the upcoming election season will nevertheless offer plenty of fireworks in several hotly contested statewide primaries and regional battles for legislative seats and county offices. Although many candidates have been slugging it out for months, others were waiting until the end of the month-long filing season before hiring consultants, fine-tuning their messages and jumping into full-scale campaigning. Candidates for statewide offices or for offices encompassing more than one county filed at either the Democratic or Republican headquarters in Austin while candidates in single-county races filed in their home counties. The deadline fell at 6 p.m. but the Texas Secretary of State’s office said it could take one or two days to process the full list of candidates. Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn is favored for another six-term but will share the GOP primary ballot with five other contenders – Reid Reasor, Chris Mapp, Dwayne Stovall, Ken Cope, Linda Vega and joining the race at the last minute – U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman, (R-Houston). Five Democrats are competing for their party’s nomination in the top-of-the-ballot Senate race – David Alameel, Michael “Fjet” Fjetland, Maxie Marie Scherr, Kesha Rogers and Harry Kim. The state’s most contentious primary fight is for the state’s number- two post , where incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has been embroiled in a months-long clash with Republican challengers Dan Patrick, Jerry Patterson and Todd Staples. Other contentious primary fights have also taken shape for open statewide seats begin vacated by GOP incumbents who are either retiring or seeking another office. Contested primaries are underway in both parties for Railroad Commissioner and agriculture commissioner. The Democratic field for agriculture commissioner includes flamboyant entertainer Kinky Friedman, who has intermittently stayed on the political scene since challenging Gov. Rick Perry in the 2006 governor’s race. In the Republican primary in the governor’s race, Abbott, the state’s attorney general, has three opponents – Miriam Martinez, Lisa D. Fritsch and Larry SECEDE Kilgore. Kilgore, an Arlington telecommunications contractor who officially changed his name to underline his goal of withdrawing Texas from the union, also made a bid for governor in 2006. Abbott’s most visible competitor – former Texas GOP chairman Tom Pauken – dropped out before the filing deadline, saying he had been unable to raise money and gain traction to make a serious race. Davis, a Fort Worth state senator who rocketed to political stardom with her filibuster of a Republican-backed abortion bill, has the unified backing of state Democratic leaders in her bid to become the first Democratic governor in two decades but she faces one competitor in the primary – Reynaldo “Ray” Madrigal, a magistrate in Seadrift, near Corpus Christi. State Sen. Kelly Hancock of North Richland Hills, whose Senate District 9 includes part of Tarrant County, is unopposed in the Republican primary but will face Democrat Gregory R. Perry in the general election. In the sixth congressional district, long-time Republican incumbent Joe Barton of Ennis will apparently face Frank Kuchar in the March 4 GOP primary. Kuchar, a human resources manager who challenged Barton in 2012, said he drove to Austin Monday to pay his $3,125 filing fee after being informed that a filing petition he had submitted earlier was rejected because of a paperwork error. Two candidates have filed in the GOP primary against U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess of Lewisville –Divenchy Watrous and Joel A. Kraus, according to the Texas Secretary of State. The three other Republicans who represent parts of Tarrant County – Reps. Kay Granger of Fort Worth, Kenny Marchant of Colleyville and former Weatherford car dealer Roger Williams escaped a GOP primary challenge – but face Democrat opponents. Democrat Mark Greene is challenging Granger in the 12th district congressional seat and Democrat Patrick Fabian McGehearty has filed for Marchant’s District 24 seat. Marco Montoya and Stuart Gourd, both of Austin, are running for Williams’ seat in the multi-congressional 25th district that stretches from the tip of Tarrant County southward to the Austin suburbs. U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey of Fort Worth, the only Democrat in the six-member Tarrant County Delegation, drew a Democratic challenge from Tom Sanchez of Colleyville in his bid for a second term in the new two-county district that was created as a result Texas’ mushrooming population growth during the past decade. The 33rd district, which went into effect with the 2012 election, is comprised heavily of Hispanics and African-Americans and encompasses Tarrant and Dallas counties. No Republican filed for the seat. In the race for Texas Land Commissioner, Fort Worth businessman George P. Bush, the grandson and nephew of two presidents, is a heavy favorite in his first political bid but faces GOP opponent David Watts in the primary. Democrat John Cook faces the Republican nominee in the general election. The showcase contest in Tarrant County centers on the District 10 state senate seat that Davis is vacating with her bid for governor. Three Democrats are vying for their party’s nomination while five GOP candidates are competing in what will undoubtedly be a hard-fought Republican primary. State Democratic and Republican leaders have targeted the District 10 seat as one of their top priorities in the 2014 elections. Republicans hope to reclaim the seat, which Davis won from a long-time Republican incumbent in 2008, and Democrats are waging an equally aggressive counter-offensive to retain control of the post. Among Republicans, former State Rep. Marc Shelton of Fort Worth, the Republican nominee against Davis in 2012, is making another run for the nomination but faces tea party leader Konni Burton of Colleyville, businessman Mark Skinner of Colleyville, Arlington school trustee Tony Pompa and Colleyville chiropractor Jon Schweitzer. Neighborhood leader Libby Willis of Fort Worth, businessman Mike Martinez of Fort Worth and Colleyville attorney George Boll comprise the Democratic field. Of the eight Republican incumbents in the Tarrant County legislative delegation, only two had drawn drew primary challengers by late afternoon Monday. Rep. Diane Patrick of Arlington faces Tony D. Tinderholt and Rep. Jonathan Stickland, who won his first term in 2012 with heavy tea party support, is being challenged by Andrew Cargile. Democrat Cole Ballweg of Arlington has filed as a candidate in the District 94 race for Patrick’s seat. Tina Penny of Bedford is lone Democrat seeking the District 92 seat now held by Stickland. Rep. Stephanie Klick of Fort Worth was unopposed in the GOP primary but will face Democrat David L. Ragan of Richland Hills in the Nov. 4 general election. Of the three Democrats, Rep. Lon Burnam of Fort Worth is facing a primary challenge from Ramon Romero Jr., also of Fort Worth. Nicole Collier, a first term Democrat who represents District 95 in southeast Tarrant County, escaped Democratic opposition but will face Republican Albert McDaniel of Fort Worth in the general election. Legislative incumbents who appeared on track to escape opposition from challengers in either party included Republicans Reps. Charlie Geren, Craig Goldman and Matt Krause, all of Fort Worth, and Bill Zedler of Arlington. Democrat Chris Turner had not drawn an opponent with the approach of the filing deadline.