KERA Primary Blog
9:52 am
Wed March 5, 2014

It's Patrick Vs. Dewhurst In Lt. Gov. Runoff; Huffines Knocks Carona Out Of State Senate

Welcome to KERA’s Election Blog. Here's a recap of the winners, losers and what it all means:

It was a late, tense night for many primary candidates as conservative tea party voters flexed their muscle and defeated some Republican incumbents, while other candidates went on to win their party nominations.

STATEWIDE RACES

Republican lieutenant governor primary: KERA's Shelley Kofler reports: In the Republican race for lieutenant governor, State Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston outflanked the incumbent David Dewhurst. Patrick captured 41 percent of the vote, compared to Dewhurst’s 28 percent.  The two will now face each other in a May 27 runoff. Patrick credited his strong showing to the tea party voters who supported him.

The tea party is alive and well,” Patrick said. “The grassroots is alive and well. Love of God, love of county, love of Texas is alive and well.”

Despite his second-place finish, Dewhurst told supporters he can win by continuing to remind voters that he’s been part of the leadership that created jobs and a strong economy in Texas.

“I’m going to be sharing my story of my leadership in creating the best business climate in the country,” he said. “I want to keep this state moving forward, keep it conservative, keep it growing.”

Dewhurst said losing opponents Jerry Patterson and Todd Staples ran good races and he’ll be reaching out to their supporters during the runoff.

Complete coverage of Tuesday's primaries from the KERA Newsroom.

GOP attorney general: Two North Texans will battle for the GOP attorney general spot. Ken Paxton, a state senator from McKinney, got 44 percent of the vote. Dan Branch, a Dallas state representative, got 33 percent. They head to a May 27 runoff. KERA’s Bill Zeeble has the details. There will also be Republican runoffs for comptroller and agriculture commissioner.

Democratic primaries: On the Democratic ticket, entertainer Kinky Friedman, with a platform to legalize marijuana, will be in a runoff with Jim Hogan for agriculture commissioner. Dallas’ David Alameel, a businessman with dental clinics, will be in a U.S. Senate Democratic runoff with Kesha Rogers, who the Democratic Party disavowed as a follower of Lyndon LaRouche.

Davis vs. Abbott in governor's race: It’s official: For the governor’s race, it’s Texas attorney general Greg Abbott, the Republican, versus State Sen. Wendy Davis, the Democrat. KERA's Doualy Xaykaothao has more:

Wendy Davis supporters packed a small hall off Main Street, in Fort Worth, determined to drown out any doubts about her nomination.

"As governor, I will fight to give our kids a 21st century education, and an economy built for the jobs of tomorrow,” she said.

Then Davis took aim at her Republican opponent on the issue of education. Abbott is defending education cuts, she said.

At the same time, in San Antonio, Republican supporters were cheering on Abbott after he said “no way” to bigger government in Texas. Abbott talked about his record in fighting President Obama and the Affordable Care Act and the EPA. Abbott accused his opponents of trying to expand state government. He said, "I say no way to bigger government in the state of Texas."

Abbott and Davis have already clashed over everything from policy positions, to her life story, to Abbott’s campaigning with rocker Ted Nugent. The sparring will only become more intense as they head into the November election.

The KERA Radio story about the governor's race

STATE LEGISLATURE

State Senate District 16: Dallas County has a new state senator. In the Senate District 16 race, real estate developer Don Huffines narrowly defeated longtime incumbent John Carona. Huffines beat  Carona by about 600 votes, ending the incumbent's 24-year career in the Texas Legislature. It was a close race throughout the evening, although Huffines always had the lead. At one point, the lead widened to 900 votes.

KERA's Stella Chavez has more: Before the final tally, Carona spoke to his supporters about the hard-fought battle.

“I wish I could tell you how this will end,” Carona said. “I know how I’d like it to end, but I also know that things don’t always work in life the way you want.”

The race has been one of the most expensive legislative primaries in Texas. Huffines, a first-time candidate,  was backed by tea party voters. He said Carona had been in office too long and was too moderate.

Carona has been a senator 17 years. He criticized Huffines of negative and nasty campaign tactics. In one case, Carona’s depicted as a kind of mafiaso in what looks like a poster from the film The Godfather.

Despite the turn of events, Carona remained optimistic and philosophical: “I am somebody who believes all things in life work out for a reason. Things in our lives, based on our faith, don’t have by accident. They’re meant to be.”

Huffines supporters would say that means voters were ready for change. At his election watch party, many said they wanted someone who wasn’t a politician. Huffines declined to speak to reporters until the final results came in.

State Senate District 10: The field of Tarrant County candidates seeking to replace Wendy Davis in the state senate has been cut from seven to three with yesterday’s election.

Two Republicans are headed for a runoff as they try to reclaim the seat for their party. Konni Burton, a tea party leader who was endorsed by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, received 44 percent. She’ll now face off against former state representative Mark Shelton, who lost to Davis the last time. He received 36 percent of the vote last night.

Burton believes the numbers favor a Republican in the fall.

“The seat leans Republican,” Burton told KERA's Gus Contreras. “We’re a little over 50 percent Republican so it really does a disservice to the constituents of this district to have a liberal Democrat representing us down in Austin.”

Libby Willis, the Democrat who won her party’s nomination over Mike Martinez, says she’s a moderate with a philosophy that will help her win in November.

“The issues we’ve been talking about are the issues of working families, and those are the majority of people that live in Senate District 10,” Willis said. “They’re looking for someone who can bring solutions and common sense at the neighborhood level, which is what I’ve been working on for so many years.”

State House District 90: The Texas Tribune reports: Fort Worth Democrat Lon Burnam, one of the few remaining white male Democrats in the Texas House, lost his race. His district was "drawn to favor a Hispanic challenger. He barely won two years ago, but his luck ran out Tuesday against Ramon Romero Jr., losing by 111 votes out of nearly 5,100 votes cast."

LOCAL RACES

Tarrant County, GOP district attorney: KERA's Doualy Xaykaothao has this dispatch: In Tarrant County, where no incumbent ran for district attorney, Sharen Wilson beat out George Mackey and Kathy Lowthorpe in the Republican primary. No Democrat ran. At a watch party last night, on Magnolia Avenue in Fort Worth, Wilson thanked supporters after early voting showed she was in a strong lead.

"The men and women of the district attorney’s office are true professionals who work hard and I'm looking forward to … getting to listen to them, and hear what their insights are for improving that office,” Wilson said.

When Wilson resigned as a district court judge to run for the district attorney’s office, she pledged to "return integrity" to the office. District attorney Joe Shannon decided not to run again after the county settled a sexual harassment lawsuit against him two years ago.

Dallas County district attorney, Republican primary: Susan Hawk defeated Tim Nowak to win the Republican primary for Dallas County district attorney. Hawk, a former prosecutor and judge, earned 62 percent of the vote. This fall, she’ll face District Attorney Craig Watkins, a Democrat. Hawk spoke with KERA Tuesday as she was in the lead, but before the final votes were counted: “I feel pretty hopeful and pretty confident at this point and very excited to move forward. When I stepped down from my bench to run for district attorney, I did it for all the right reasons because I believe Dallas County deserves better and with these numbers I'm excited to hopefully, if all goes well, be the Republican candidate to beat Craig Watkins."

CONGRESS

Ralph Hall in runoff: Ralph Hall of Rockwall, the oldest member of Congress, will face a runoff with John Ratcliffe, former U.S. attorney. That’s for the Fourth Congressional District, which stretches from Rockwall north and east toward Sherman and Texarkana. Hall is 90, and Ratcliffe says he’s not going to make age an issue. He says he’s challenging Hall on his record. KERA's Stella Chavez reported on the candidates leading up to last night's primary.

TEA PARTY STRENGTH

The tea party showed strength Tuesday night as several tea party candidates won their primaries, often beating more established candidates.

In Dallas County, incumbent John Carona lost to Don Huffines, who has tea party backing, in the State Senate District 16 race. In Dallas County, in the Republican primary for the District 115 State House race, incumbent Bennett Ratliff lost to Matt Rinaldi, who has tea party support. In Tarrant County, in District 94 in the State House, incumbent State Sen. Diane Patrick lost to Tony Tinderholt, who has tea party support. In the State Senate, in District 2, longtime incumbent Bob Deuell is heading into a runoff with Bob Hall, a tea party activist.

Ross Ramsey, executive editor of The Texas Tribune, told KERA's Shelley Kofler that social conservatives and movement conservatives had a good night. Up and down the ballot, conservative challengers did well against establishment candidates.

“It’s a conservative Republican electorate and they’ve done a good job of figuring out which candidate is on their side," Ramsey said.

While the Texas House makeup will be more conservative, it’s not enough to oust House Speaker Joe Strauss, Ramsey said.

Shelley Kofler, Bill Zeeble, Stella M. Chavez, Doualy Xaykaothao and Gus Contreras from the KERA News staff contributed to this report, as did The Associated Press and The Texas Tribune.

TUESDAY NIGHT PRIMARY BLOG

Update, 11:48 p.m. Tuesday: Don Huffines' lead widens over incumbent John Carona in the District 16 State Senate race. Huffines now is up by more than 900 votes. 

Update, 11:15 p.m.: It’s 11 o’clock. Do you know where your primary night headlines are? Here’s where things stand:

  • Dan Patrick and David Dewhurst appear to be headed to a runoff for the Republican lieutenant governor primary. Patrick, the state senator from Houston, has more than 40 percent of the vote. Dewhurst, the incumbent, comes in a disappointing second, with just under 30 percent.

  • In North Texas, Don Huffines and John Carona continue to battle it out for the District 16 State Senate race. Huffines’ lead is narrow, but it has been growing.
  • Tea party candidates performed well tonight up and down the Republican ballot. Example: In Tarrant County, in District 94 in the State House, incumbent State Sen. Diane Patrick lost to Tony Tinderholt, who has tea party support.

 

  • The oldest member of the U.S. House will face a runoff election as he seeks to return to Congress for an 18th term. U.S. Rep Ralph Hall of Texas did not win 50 percent of the vote Tuesday night in the Republican primary in Texas' 4th Congressional District, which stretches from Rockwall north and east toward Sherman and Texarkana. He'll face challenger John Ratcliffe in a May 27 runoff.
  • Two North Texans appear headed to a Republican runoff for attorney general. State Sen. Ken Paxton of McKinney was in the lead with 44 percent of the votes. Dan Branch, a state representative from Dallas, has 33 percent.
  • There’s another tight race in Dallas County -- for the State House District 102 seat. Linda Koop, former Dallas City Council member, is leading -- but barely. Incumbent Stefani Carter is not far behind. Looks like they'll be heading to a runoff. 
  • Everyone knew it would be Greg Abbott vs. Wendy Davis for the governor’s race. But tonight’s primary makes that official.

Update: From The Associated Press: Dallas dental mogul David Alameel and frequent candidate Kesha Rogers have advanced to a runoff to decide the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination. They were the top-two vote-getters in Tuesday's five-candidate field for a post held by Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, but neither won a majority.

Cornyn  crushed tea party-backed U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman and six lesser-known Republican primary challengers.

Alameel is a multimillionaire who has been endorsed by Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis. He has given to both Democratic and Republican candidates but now calls the GOP too extreme. Rogers wants to impeach President Barack Obama but was the Democratic nominee during unsuccessful runs for Congress from a suburban Houston district in 2010 and 2012.

The Associated Press had called the race for Alameel, but uncalled it after a county's results had been miscounted.

Update, 11:05 p.m.: Kinky Friedman ran for Texas governor in 2006. He lost. The novelist, singer and humorist ran for agriculture commissioner in the Democratic primary in 2010. He lost again.

This year, the colorful candidate is back at it, this time for ag commissioner (yet again). And now it seems he’s advancing to a Democratic runoff. On Tuesday night, with nearly 90 percent of the precincts reporting, Friedman received about 38 percent of the votes.

Friedman will face Jim Hogan on May 27.

On the Republican side, Sid Miller and Tommy Merritt appear headed to a runoff. With 86 percent of precincts reporting, Miller earned 35 percent of the votes, while Merrit had 21 percent.

Update, 10:55 p.m.: With 169 of 270 precincts reporting, Don Huffines maintains a narrow, but growing, lead in the District 16 State Senate race. He now has 616 more votes than State Sen. John Carona, the incumbent. Huffines has 51 percent of the vote, while Carona has 49 percent.

Update, 10:29 p.m.: KERA's Stella M. Chavez is attending the John Carona watch party. Carona just addressed the crowd. He thanked his family and his friends, as well as his campaign. "I wish I could tell you how this would end," he said. "I'm hopeful we can make up this 400 votes." He continued: "I am somebody who believes all things work out for a reason. I think we've got a good shot at winning tonight." But, if not, he said he appreciates everyone's work.

Update, 10:22 p.m.: Another update from Dallas County. In the State Senate District 16 race, with 111 of 270 precincts reporting, tea party challenger Don Huffines continues to hold a small lead over incumbent John Carona. It's a 392-vote lead. Huffines has 51 percent of the vote, while Carona has 49 percent. The gap has widened a bit through the evening.

Update, 10:19 p.m.: Ross Ramsey, executive editor of The Texas Tribune, spoke live with KERA's Shelley Kofler, offering his analysis of tonight's primary races.

Social conservatives and movement conservatives are having a good night, he said. Up and down the ballot, conservative challengers are doing well against establishment candidates.

“It’s a conservative Republican electorate and they’ve done a good job of figuring out which candidate is on their side," Ramsey said.

While the Texas House makeup will be more conservative, it’s not enough to oust House Speaker Joe Strauss, Ramsey said.

And if the lieutenant governor runoff features Dan Patrick and David Dewhurst, it’s going to be tough for Dewhurst, the incumbent, Ramsey said. He’ll have to overcome a significant chunk of voters who didn’t vote for him tonight.

Update, 10:05 p.m.: KERA’s Stella M. Chavez is at the watch party for State Sen. John Carona, who’s in a tight battle to keep his District 16 seat. The mood is still somewhat festive, although some supporters said they’re concerned.  Carona said he was disappointed by how close the race is. He said it’s still early. He didn’t appreciate the negative campaigning done by Don Huffines, a real estate developer. Huffines has a slight lead.

Dave Davies with Texas Public Radio is in San Antonio to hear Greg Abbott’s acceptance speech. Abbott, the Republican governor candidate, talked about his record in fighting President Obama and the Affordable Care Act and the EPA. He talked about his wife being Hispanic. He says that when he is elected, she would be the first Latina first lady. He talked about his blended family and how that is similar to Texans these days.

From The Associated Press: During his San Antonio speech, Abbott said he'll work to stop people he says are "demanding more government" in Texas.

Abbott accused his opponents of trying to expand state government. He said, "I say no way to bigger government in the state of Texas."

Update, 9:51 p.m.: KERA 90.1 FM is offering live extended coverage of tonight's primaries.

Update, 9:50 p.m.: With about one-third of the precincts reporting across Texas, Dan Patrick remains in the lead in the Republican lieutenant governor primary. Patrick, the state senator from Houston, has 42 percent of the vote. Incumbent David Dewhurst has 28 percent.

Update, 9:41 p.m.: Angie Chen Button, the District 112 incumbent in the Texas House, is one of the few candidates able to fend off a tea party opponent -- at least for now. She has 56 percent of the vote, while opponent Jared Patterson has 45 percent. But only three of 36 precincts are reporting.

Update, 9:33 p.m.: In Tarrant County, an update regarding State Senate District 10 and the race to replace State Sen. Wendy Davis. About 5,000 more votes have been counted since we last checked. In the Republican primary, Konni Burton, who has tea party backing, still has 44 percent of the votes, while Mark Shelton still has 35 percent. The other candidates are far behind.

On the Democratic side, Libby Willis has 56 percent of the vote, while Mike Martinez has 45 percent – a difference of about 2,200 votes. Her lead has grown a bit since earlier this evening.

Update, 9:16 p.m.: Dallas County elections office has released an updated vote count. The District 16 race in the State Senate remains very close between incumbent John Carona and Don Huffines. Huffines, with strong tea party support, has widened his lead to 305 votes. (Up from about 150 votes during early voting.) So far, 42 of 270 precincts are reporting. Carona still has about 49 percent of the votes so far, while Huffines has 51 percent.

There’s another tight race in Dallas County -- for the State House District 102 seat. With 12 of 46 precincts reporting, Linda Koop, former Dallas City Council member, is leading -- but barely. She has 35 percent of the vote. Incumbent Stefani Carter is not far behind, with 34 percent. Only 51 votes separate them. Sam Brown has 28 percent of the vote.

Update, 9:08 p.m.: The oldest member of the U.S. House will face a runoff election as he seeks to return to Congress for an 18th term, The Associated Press reports.

U.S. Rep Ralph Hall of Texas did not win 50 percent of the vote Tuesday night in the Republican primary in Texas' 4th Congressional District, which stretches from Rockwall north and east toward Sherman and Texarkana. He'll face challenger John Ratcliffe in a May 27 runoff.

Hall, who is 90, is a World War II veteran who has served in Congress since 1980. He's declared that this year's re-election campaign will be his last. Ratcliffe is a former U.S. attorney during the George W. Bush administration and mayor of Heath.

Update, 9:03 p.m.: KERA’s Doualy Xaykaothao is at Wendy Davis' watch party. Davis, a state senator from Fort Worth, is the Democratic candidate for governor. Doualy reports Davis addressed a very enthusiastic crowd, telling supporters she wanted to ensure young Texans get a 21st-century education and that the state needs to build an economy that she said would be built for the jobs of tomorrow. And she took a few swipes at Greg Abbott, the Texas attorney general who will be her Republican opponent for governor. She said that Abbott's decisions have forced teacher cuts and kids into overcrowded classrooms. She said she’d be the governor who would fight for all freedoms. She said Abbott wants to dictate for all women the decisions that they should make for themselves.

Update, 8:56 p.m.: The Associated Press reports: George P. Bush took the first step toward continuing his family's political dynasty Tuesday, shaking off an under-funded primary challenger and securing the Republican nomination for the little-known but powerful post of Texas land commissioner.

Tuesday's result was never in doubt. There was no incumbent running and Bush used his American political-royalty surname to raise more than $3.5 million while his opponent, East Texas businessman David Watts, could barely afford to travel the state.

The 37-year-old Fort Worth attorney is the grandson of former President George H.W. Bush, nephew of former President and Texas Gov. George W. Bush, and son of ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush who is frequently mentioned as a possible GOP White House hopeful in 2016.

Bush immediately becomes the overwhelming favorite in November against Democratic nominee and former El Paso Mayor John Cook. A Democrat hasn't captured statewide office in Texas in 20 years.

Update, 8:41 p.m.: The Texas Tribune reports from Wendy Davis's watch party. She thanked her supporters. "When I look at you, I know in my heart that we are going to do this," Davis said.

She also came out swinging against her Republican opponent, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, criticizing him for defending steep cuts made by the Legislature to public education in 2011 in court in response to a lawsuit filed by a coalition of school districts who say the state's education system is flawed and doesn't appropriately fund schools.

“And there’s Greg Abbott ... he’s defending those cuts,” Davis said. “Cuts that laid-off teachers and forced our kids into overcrowded classrooms.”

She also made mention of the ongoing abortion debate in the state — the issue that pushed her into the spotlight last summer when she filibustered a restrictive abortion law. Davis bashed Abbott for his anti-abortion stance, saying that Abbott wants to “dictate for all women, including victims of rape and incest.”

“I will be the governor who fights for the future of Texas,” she said, adding that “Greg Abbott is a defender of the status quo.”

Update, 8:43 p.m.: Harvey Kronberg, editor of the Quorum Report, a non-partisan newsletter focusing on Texas politics and government, spoke with KERA’s Shelley Kofler.

They focused on the state of the tea party tonight considering tea party-backed candidates are doing well in North Texas and in some statewide races.

“Generally speaking, the tea party is really the organized effort, which is funny because there are so many disparate groups,” Kronberg said. “But they represent some kind of common theme. Dan Patrick, who has a compelling lead [in the lieutenant governor’s race], has focused exclusively on tea party support.”

Kronberg added: “While not many votes have been counted so far across the state, the preliminary numbers … give you a snapshot and seem to show a level of organization and execution with the tea party that you don’t normally attribute to them. Most of the time they’re very fragmented. … They seem to have made a common cause.”

It appears there will be a handful of new members with tea party support, but not enough to upset the equilibrium in the Texas House, Kronberg said.

Update, 8:11 p.m.: In the three-way Republican race for attorney general, candidates are trying to outdo the next as the most conservative. Not many votes are in, but State Sen. Ken Paxton of McKinney is in the lead with 44 percent. Candidate Dan Branch, a state representative from Dallas, has 31 percent. KERA’s Bill Zeeble is at Ken Paxton’s watch party: Paxton’s campaign is cautiously optimistic, Zeeble reports. The campaign anticipates a runoff. There is a third candidate: Barry Smitherman, a state railroad commissioner.

Update, 8:05 p.m.: KERA's Stella Chavez talked with Susan Hawk, who's leading the Dallas County district attorney Republican primary race. "At 64 percent, I feel pretty hopeful and pretty confident at this point and very excited to move forward," Hawk said. "When I stepped down from my bench to run for district attorney, I did it for all the right reasons because I believe Dallas County deserves better and with these numbers I'm excited to hopefully, if all goes well, be the Republican candidate to beat Craig Watkins." Watkins, a Democrat, is the current district attorney.

Update, 8:02 p.m.: KERA's Stella Chavez is at the Susan Hawk watch party. She's a Republican candidate for Dallas County District Attorney -- and she's leading in the Republican primary, at least in early votes. She has about 60 percent of the vote so far.

Update, 8:02 p.m.: U.S. Sen. John Cornyn has a comfortable lead in the Republican primary -- 63 percent. Opponent Steve Stockman has 17 percent.

Stockman has conceded, and he sent out this note on Twitter:

Update, 8:01 p.m.: In Tarrant County, in the State House District 92 race, incumbent Jonathan Stickland was ahead in early voting. He has tea party support. He has about 65 percent of the early vote. His challenger is Andy Cargile.

Update, 8:01 p.m.: KERA 90.1 FM will air another live election update at 8:04 p.m.

Update, 7:57 p.m.: We have some statewide results. In the Republican primary for lieutenant governor, not many votes are in, but Dan Patrick is in the lead with 45 percent of the vote. David Dewhurst, the incumbent, is trailing with 27 percent. Todd Staples is in third, with Jerry Patterson in last. If no candidate gets a majority of the vote, the top two finishers head to a May runoff.

Update, 7:45 p.m. The Associated Press has projected winners in the following primary races:

Michael Burgess, Republican nominee, U.S. House, District 26

Joe Barton, Republican nominee, U.S. House, District 6

Sam Johnson, Republican nominee, U.S. House, District 3

Eddie Bernice Johnson, Democratic nominee, U.S. House, District 30

Pete Sessions, Republican nominee, U.S. House, District 32 -- Sessions has defeated Katrina Pierson, who had tea party support.

Update, 7:44 p.m.: KERA’s Doualy Xaykaothao is at Sharen Wilson’s watch party in Tarrant County. Wilson has a commanding lead during early voting for Tarrant County district attorney – 60 percent of the early votes. There are lots of happy people at the party, Xaykaothao reports. Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price endorsed Wilson.

Update, 7:41 p.m.: An early trend tonight in North Texas: Some of the tea party candidates are flexing their muscles in the Republican primaries – at least during early voting. In the State Senate District 16, race, incumbent John Carona is locked in a tight race with Don Huffines, who has tea party support. They both have 50 percent of the early votes. In the District 115 State House, incumbent Bennett Ratliff is in a tight race in early voting with Matt Rinaldi, who has tea party support. In Tarrant County, in District 94 in the State House, incumbent State Sen. Diane Patrick is running behind Tony Tinderholt, who has tea party support. Angie Chen Button in District 112 in the State House, is one of the incumbents able to fend off a tea party opponent – at least for now.

Update, 7:37 p.m.: In Dallas County, in the Republican primary for the District 115 State House race, incumbent Bennett Ratliff is in a tight race in early voting with Matt Rinaldi, who has tea party support. They both have 50 percent of the early vote.

Update, 7:30 p.m.: At the age of 90, Congressman Ralph Hall is the oldest person in Congress – and he’s pursuing an 18th term. But he has competition. In the Republican primary for his seat, Hall is in the lead in early voting so far – with 44 percent of the vote. John Ratcliffe has 29 percent. John Stacy has 16 percent. The Fourth Congressional District runs from Rockwall County to East Texas and along the Red River.

Update, 7:26 p.m.: KERA 90.1 FM will air another live election update at 7:30 p.m.

Update, 7:25 p.m.: In Tarrant County, in the District Attorney race, Sharen Wilson has a commanding lead during early voting – 60 percent of the early votes. George Mackey is in second with 32 percent. Kathy Lowthorp is a distant third, with 8 percent.

Update, 7;20 p.m.: A big race to watch in Tarrant County is the race to replace State Sen. Wendy Davis, who’s running for governor. In the Republican primary, Konni Burton has 44 percent of the early votes, while Mark Shelton has earned 35 percent. The other candidates are far behind in early voting – Tony Pompa is in third with 12 percent.

On the Democratic side, Libby Willis has 55 percent of the early vote, while Mike Martinez has 45 percent – a difference of about 1,200 votes.

Update 7:17 p.m.: Moving to Tarrant County, in District 94 in the State House, in the Republican primary, incumbent State Sen. Diane Patrick is running behind Tony Tinderholt. Patrick has 46 percent of the early votes, while Tinderholt is in the lead with 54 percent. There’s about a 600-vote gap.

Update, 7:14 p.m.: In Dallas County, in the Republican primary for Dallas County District Attorney, Susan Hawk has a commanding lead during early voting, with 64 percent of the early votes. Tom Nowak has 36 percent. The winner will go on to face Democratic incumbent Craig Watkins.

Update, 7:12 p.m.: Also from Dallas County: In District 112 in the State House, in the Republican primary, incumbent Angie Chen Button is in the lead in early voting – 55 percent of the vote so far. Jared Patterson, with tea party support, has 45 percent.

Update, 7:08 p.m. There’s another tight race in Dallas County -- for the State House District 102 seat with three candidates in the lead during early voting. Linda Koop, former Dallas City Council member, is leading in early voting – 35.2 percent of the vote. Incumbent Stefani Carter is just a couple hundred votes behind – 33 percent. Sam Brown has 27.7 percent of the vote.

Update, 7 p.m. In Dallas County, early voting results are in and there’s a tight race for District 16 in the State Senate between incumbent John Carona and Don Huffines. Huffines, with strong tea party support, has a lead of just 152 votes. Carona has 49.7 percent of the early votes, while Huffines has 50.3 percent.

Update, 6:31 p.m. Tuesday: Some races and trends we’ll be highlighting:

Original post: Today is primary day. Polls are open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Make sure you have a photo ID.

KERA will provide primary night coverage online at KERANews.org and throughout the evening on KERA 90.1 FM.

There are many interesting races, both in North Texas and across Texas.

On “Think” on Monday, KERA’s Shelley Kofler and Gromer Jeffers with The Dallas Morning News discussed some of the more contested races with host Krys Boyd.

Want to know about where to vote? Check with your local elections office:

How to vote: Texas Secretary of State Elections Division / Dallas County / Tarrant County / Collin County / Denton County Ellis County

Voter guides: Dallas Morning News / League of Women Voters 

Learn more: Federal Election Commission /Federal Voting Assistance Program / PolitiFact Texas / FactCheck.org / VoteTexas.gov

Update, 2:11 p.m. Tuesday: The Associated Press reports:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott says connecting with Hispanic voters is a major goal for the Texas GOP as the state moves beyond the primary season.
 
The Texas attorney general said after voting Tuesday in Austin that Republicans "are going to reach out and be more inclusive" of different cultures than ever this election year. Hispanics are the fastest-growing population in Texas and their voting power is strengthening.
 
Both Abbott and his Democratic challenger, state Sen. Wendy Davis, spent last weekend in the Rio Grande Valley trying to make new inroads to Hispanic voters ahead of the primary.
 
Democrats have criticized Abbott for comparing corruption in South Texas to third-world practices. Abbott has said he wasn't characterizing the border region.