The 2020 election kicks off in Texas with the beginning of early voting in the March 3 Republican and Democratic primaries on Tuesday.
The Democratic primary gives Texans a chance to weigh in on which candidate should become the nominee to challenge President Donald Trump in November.
Statewide voters will also have the chance to choose the Democratic challenger to Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. Democrats have a choice of a dozen candidates while Republicans can choose between Cornyn and four Republican challengers in the primary.
Besides those decisions, Tarrant County voters have other choices to make in federal and state legislative, judicial and county races. Dozens of candidates are on the ballot in the Republican and Democratic primaries.
The marquee local primary race is the slugfest between 12-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Kay Granger of Fort Worth and her Republican opponent, businessman Chris Putnam, a former Colleyville City Council member and mayor pro-tem.
The race has drawn national attention as a result of special interest money and high-profile endorsements for both candidates, including Trump’s endorsement of Granger.
Granger is considered the frontrunner but Putnam poses a tough challenge as he attacks her “liberal” voting record on red-meat Republican issues such as abortion and federal spending.
At the same time, the Putnam has slammed her hard over the Panther Island project, which Granger has championed for nearly two decades. The project has been financially imperiled and suffered another blow with the recent announcement that only a small amount of federal money has been allotted to go toward a feasibility study, which could take up to three years.
Granger had been hoping for an upbeat announcement of construction funds for the project to boost her prospects in the primary but was hit with the need for another study just as primary voters are heading to the polls.
“Putnam has really done everything right,” said local Republican political strategist Charles McCaslin. “He has hit her with her pro-choice stand from the past outside the Fort Worth loop and with Panther Island inside the loop.”
But this isn’t the only race commanding the attention of primary voters.
The contest for the State House District 92 race has implications for local voters as well as the makeup of the State House during the next Legislative session, which has redistricting on the agenda.
Democrats are eyeing the seat because of the slim 2.5-point spread between Stickland and his Democratic opponent Steve Riddell of Bedford in 2018. Riddell, a business manager, is running again, and faces Democrat Jeff Whitfield of Euless, an attorney.
Republicans running for the District 92 seat are: Jeff Cason of Bedford, a sales manager; Taylor Gillig of Arlington, a business owner; and Jim Griffin of Bedford, a retiree.
The State House is at the tipping point with 30 seats statewide in play. If Democrats hold onto all their seats and win nine more, they would win the House, McCaslin said.
“The Stickland seat is ranked No. 9 on that list,” McCaslin said.
In 2018, Beto O’Rourke narrowly beat U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in Tarrant County but he did not win any in any of the Republican-held State House districts in the county. Those are Districts 93, 94, 96, 97, 98 and 99.
Instead, he won by extraordinary turnout in Democratic areas, particularly southeast Arlington.
“Tarrant County is the bell-whether,” McCaslin said. “If Democrats can make inroads in the those Tarrant districts, they can win the State House.”
Early voting from Tuesday through Feb. 28. Texas is part of Super Tuesday on March 3, when voters in 15 states and U.S. jurisdiction choose candidates in primary elections. California is also part of Super Tuesday voting.
Early voting from Feb. 18-21 runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. On Feb. 22, voters can cast ballots from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Feb. 23, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. From Feb. 24-28, early voting runs from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Tarrant County voters may cast early ballots in person at any of the 47 locations in Tarrant County.
For more information, visit www.tarrantcounty.com/en/elections.html