The long primary election season that began late last year ends with today's runoffs, topped by four particularly noisy statewide Republican races, a couple more involving Democrats and about a dozen and a half legislative contests around Texas.
The Republicans have been hogging the spotlight, with four hard-fought races on an uncharacteristically competitive primary ballot. Two of those contests — for lieutenant governor and for attorney general — are the leading current sponsors of acrimonious political advertising on Texans’ television sets.
The state’s Democratic voters have fewer decisions to make, with statewide runoffs for the U.S. Senate and for Texas agriculture commissioner, and Texas House runoffs in El Paso and Dallas counties.
You can see our election brackets to get an overview of the whole 2014 Texas election cycle and see who will face off against whom in the upcoming general election. Below is a quick look at what is left for voters to decide:
The marquee race pits incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst against state Sen. Dan Patrick, who finished well ahead in the first round. It’s the contest with the most money in it, the most news coverage and the one most likely to drive voters to the polls — or away from them.
Down the Republican ballot, former state Reps. Sid Miller of Stephenville and Tommy Merritt of Longview are running for agriculture commissioner. And Former Rep. Wayne Christian of Center faces Ryan Sitton of Friendswood in the runoff for one of the three seats on the Texas Railroad Commission.
The Democrats have two races to contend with. At the top of the ballot, in the race for U.S. Senate, David Alameel, who made a fortune selling a chain of dental clinics, is trying to finish off Kesha Rogers, a harsh critic of President Obama who has upset some Democrats. Alameel narrowly missed an outright win in the first round.
And in the Democratic race for agriculture commissioner, Jim Hogan, a relative unknown in his first race, finished just a touch ahead of comedian and musician Kinky Friedman in the first round. The winner will face either Merritt or Miller in November.
In Congressional District 4, Republican U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall of Rockwall — the oldest member of Congress — is trying to shake off a challenge from former federal prosecutor John Ratcliffe.
In CD-23 — a massive district that reaches from El Paso to San Antonio and includes a huge stretch of the Texas-Mexico border — former U.S. Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco is trying to catch Will Hurd, who finished less than a point ahead in the March GOP primary. The winner will face U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, in one of the nation’s most closely watched congressional races in November.
In the CD-36 seat opened by U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman’s decision to run — unsuccessfully, as it turned out — for U.S. Senate, Brian Babin and Ben Streusand are battling for the Republican nomination.
State Board of Education
Pat Hardy of Fort Worth came within less than half a percentage point of the nomination for another term in March and now faces Eric Mahroum in the Republican runoff in SBOE-11.
The Democrats have a runoff in the open SBOE-13 seat in Fort Worth, between Erika Beltran and Andrea Hilburn. No Republican awaits, but the winner will face Libertarian Junart Sodoy.
Two Republican races — one in Tarrant County, the other spreading east and north from Dallas County — make up the Senate runoff ballot.
In the first, in Senate District 10, Republican former state Rep. Mark Shelton of Fort Worth is trying to catch up with Konni Burton of Colleyville, who won in round one. The nominee will face Democrat Libby Willis, and the winner of that will replace Democrat Wendy Davis in the state Senate.
In SD-2, Republican state Sen. Bob Deuell of Greenville is battling Bob Hall, a well-financed newcomer who finished 10 percentage points behind the incumbent in the first round. A Libertarian, Don Bates, awaits the winner in November.
Only one incumbent state representative — Dallas Republican Stefani Carter in House District 102 — landed on the runoff ballot. She faces Linda Koop, whose most recent political experience was on the Dallas City Council.
The Democratic runoff in El Paso County’s HD-76 features former state Rep. Norma Chavez, who finished second in the first heat, and César Blanco, who is making his first ballot appearance. The winner will face Libertarian J. Alexandro Lozano in November.
Either Susan Motley or Terry Meza will advance to a November race in HD-105, one of the few true swing seats left in the Texas House. One of those Democratic candidates will face former state Rep. Rodney Anderson of Grand Prairie, who is the Republican nominee, having unseated the incumbent, state Rep. Linda Harper-Brown, in March.
Eight Republican primaries round out the state ballot. None features an incumbent. Each is a seat where the incumbent decided not to seek another term. Here they are, with an asterisk indicating who finished first in March.
HD-10: T.J. Fabby* vs. John Wray
HD-16: Will Metcalf vs. Ted Seago*
HD-53: Rob Henneke vs. Andrew Murr*
HD-58: DeWayne Burns vs. Philip Eby*
HD-66: Glenn Callison vs. Matt Shaheen*
HD-108: Morgan Meyer* vs. Chart Westcott
HD-129: Sheryl Berg* vs. Dennis Paul
HD-132: Ann Hodge vs. Mike Schofield*
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/05/27/its-runoff-election-day/.