Appellate judge David Bridges (R), who sat in Place 1 on the Texas Fifth District Court of Appeals, was killed on July 25 when an individual driving under the influence of alcohol hit Bridges as he was driving on the freeway. Bridges had served on the court since 1996.
Bridges was running for re-election to his seat on the court and advanced unopposed from the Republican primary on March 3. He was to face Democratic candidate Craig Smith, a judge of the Texas 192nd District Court, in the general election on November 3. Because of the timing of Bridges’ death, Republican Party committee officials from his district will nominate a replacement candidate to appear on the general election ballot. They have until August 24 to submit the nomination.
The Texas Fifth Court of Appeals is one of 14 intermediate appellate courts in Texas. Judges run in partisan elections to serve six-year terms on the court. Of the 12 judges currently sitting on the court, eight are affiliated with the Democratic Party and four are affiliated with the Republican Party.
Texas Supreme Court Justice Paul Green is retiring on August 31, 2020. Green joined the court in 2005 after winning election to the position on November 2, 2004. Before that, he served for 10 years as a justice on the Texas Fourth District Court of Appeals, taking the bench after being elected in 1994. He also worked in private practice. Green received his B.A. in business administration from the University of Texas at Austin in 1974. In 1977, he earned his J.D. from Saint Mary’s University School of Law.
In the event of a midterm vacancy, Texas Supreme Court justices are chosen by gubernatorial appointment with confirmation by the state Senate. The appointee serves until the next general election, in which he or she must compete in a partisan election to serve for the remainder of the unexpired term. Green’s replacement will be Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) fourth nominee to the nine-member supreme court.
Texas is one of two states (along with Oklahoma) with two courts of last resort. Founded in 1836, the Texas Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort for civil matters. Founded in 1876, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is the state’s court of last resort for criminal matters. Both courts have nine judgeships each.
In addition to Justice Green, the Texas Supreme Court currently includes the following justices:
• Nathan Hecht – Elected in 1988
• Eva Guzman – Appointed by Gov. Rick Perry (R) in 2009
• Debra Lehrmann – Appointed by Gov. Perry in 2010
• Jeffrey S. Boyd – Appointed by Gov. Perry in 2012
• John Devine – Elected in 2012
• Jimmy Blacklock – Appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in 2018
• Jane Bland – Appointed by Gov. Abbott in 2019
• Brett Busby – Appointed by Gov. Abbott in 2019
In 2020, there have been 19 supreme court vacancies in 16 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. The vacancies were caused by retirements. Twelve vacancies are in states where a Democratic governor appoints the replacement. Six are in states where a Republican governor appoints the replacement. One vacancy is in a state where the state supreme court votes to appoint the replacement.
On July 14, incumbent Texas Sen. Eddie Lucio (D-27) defeated challenger Sara Stapleton-Barrera (D) in Senate District 27’s Democratic primary runoff. Lucio received 54 percent of the vote to Stapleton-Barrera’s 46 percent.
The runoff in District 27 received media attention after Planned Parenthood Texas, which endorsed Stapleton-Barrera, created a website and other materials opposing Lucio. One ad said, “For 30 years, Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. has done the dirty work of extremist politicians like Dan Patrick and Greg Abbott.” The Dallas Morning News’ Allie Morris wrote, “A devout Catholic, [Sen. Lucio] is often the lone Democrat to side with ruling Republicans on contentious social issues, including abortion.”
In a press release from Lucio’s campaign, his son, Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-38) said, “These big special-interests groups from outside our border community should comprehend the deeper connotations behind the word ‘sucio’ (‘dirty Mexican’) and the association with a person of Hispanic descent.”
District 27 is located south of Corpus Christi along the Gulf Coast and includes communities along the U.S.-Mexico border. Roughly 89 percent of the district’s population are Hispanic.
In total, 16 Senate seats were up for election this year. Two incumbents—Lucio and Sen. Borris Miles (D-13)—faced primary challengers, down from the seven incumbents challenged in 2018. Miles received 55 percent of the vote on March 3, defeating two challengers and avoiding a runoff.
With both incumbents winning their respective primaries, no Senators were defeated in Texas’ primary elections this year. The most recent year an incumbent Senator was defeated in a primary was 2014 when Republican Sens. John Carona and Bob Deuell lost to challengers. No incumbent Democratic Senator has been defeated in a primary since 2006.
The statewide primary for Maine and the primary runoff for Texas took place on July 14, 2020. Candidates competed to advance to the general election scheduled for November 3.
Texas’s statewide primary was held on March 3, 2020. If no candidate received a majority of the votes in the primary, the top two vote-getters advanced to the primary runoff.
On July 14, candidates ran in elections for the following state legislative offices:
Maine House of Representatives (151 seats)
• Sixteen races remained uncalled as of July 15, 2020. Each incumbent who filed to run advanced to the general election in the races that had been called.
Maine State Senate (35 seats)
• Seven races remained uncalled as of July 15, 2020. Each incumbent who filed to run advanced to the general election in the races that had been called.
Texas House of Representatives (14 seats)
• Bryan Slaton defeated incumbent Dan Flynn in the District 2 Republican primary runoff.
• Shelby Slawson defeated incumbent J.D. Sheffield in the District 59 Republican primary runoff.
• Five races remained uncalled as of July 15, 2020.
Texas State Senate (2 seats)
• Roland Gutierrez defeated Xochil Pena Rodriguez in the District 19 Democratic primary runoff.
• Incumbent Eddie Lucio defeated Sara Stapleton-Barrera in the District 27 Democratic primary runoff.
Texas State Senate District 14 special general election (1 seat)
• The race was too close to call as of July 15, 2020.
For state legislative primaries, Maine uses a ranked-choice voting system in which voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. If a candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, he or she is declared the winner. If no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated. First-preference votes cast for the losing candidate are eliminated, lifting the second-preference choices indicated on those ballots. A new tally is conducted to determine whether any candidate has won a majority of the adjusted votes. The process is repeated until a candidate wins an outright majority.
Maine’s primary was the 31st to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next primary is on August 4 in Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Washington, and Tennessee.
The primary election for Maine’s congressional seats took place on July 14, 2020. The filing deadline to run passed on March 16. Candidates competed to advance to the general election scheduled on November 3.
The following races were decided, meaning one or more candidates advanced to the general election, on primary election night:
• U.S. Senate – one seat
• U.S. House of Representatives – two seats
Maine uses a ranked-choice voting system (RCV), in which voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. If a candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, he or she is declared the winner. If no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated. First-preference votes cast for the failed candidate are eliminated, and the second-preference choices on those ballots are then tallied. A new tally is conducted to determine whether any candidate has won a majority of the adjusted votes. The process is repeated until a candidate wins an outright majority.
As of July 2020, Maine was the only state that had adopted RCV at the state level, although other states have adopted RCV at the municipal level or have adopted RCV but not yet implemented it.
Maine’s primary election was the 31st to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next primary is on August 4 in Arizona.
Alabama and Texas held statewide primary runoffs on July 14.
The filing deadline to run in Alabama passed on November 8, 2019. To avoid a primary runoff in Alabama, a candidate had to win a majority of votes cast in the primary election. If no candidate won a majority of votes, the top two candidates advanced to the primary runoff. Alabama’s primary election was held on March 3, 2020. Three congressional seats advanced to primary runoffs in Alabama, including one race for the U.S. Senate and two for the U.S. House. All three of these races were decided on election night.
In Texas, the filing deadline to run for office passed on December 9, 2019. To avoid a primary runoff in Texas, a candidate had to win a majority of the votes in the primary election. If no candidate won a majority of votes, the top two candidates advanced to the primary runoff. Texas’ primary was held on March 3, 2020. Fifteen congressional offices—one U.S. Senate seat and 14 U.S. House seats—advanced to primary runoffs in Texas. All but two of those races were decided on election night.
According to unofficial election night results, Fort Worth voters approved a 0.5% sales tax renewal for the Crime Control and Prevention District with 64% of the vote on July 14. The measure also continued the existence of the district. The district and the tax were set to expire on September 30, 2020, but will now be extended for 10 years.
The Crime Control and Prevention District and the 0.5% special sales tax were first approved by voters in 1995. Fort Worth voters have renewed the Crime Control and Prevention District sales tax four times with approval of more than 75% of voters. The last vote on the tax was in 2014. For fiscal year 2019, the 0.5% sales tax generated $78 million in revenue.
The Fort Worth City Council serves as the board of directors for the Crime Control and Prevention District. In support of the sales tax, Mayor Betsy Price (R) said, “If we don’t have this tax we don’t have the ability to take that roughly $80 million and shift a good bit of it into social services.”
U.S. Representative Marc Veasey (D) came out in opposition to renewing the tax. He said, “Whether you’re Conservative that lives in Tanglewood or a Democrat that lives in Stop Six, you should be very concerned about the fact that we’re spending this money with very little transparency and very little citizen oversight. It was supposed to be for a short amount of time, and it’s mushroomed into potentially a 35 year tax.”
The minimum sales tax rate in Fort Worth for 2020 was 8.25%.
M.J. Hegar defeated Royce West in the Democratic primary runoff for U.S. Senate in Texas. Hegar received 52% of the vote to West’s 48%.
Hegar’s endorsers included the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and End Citizens United. She is a former U.S. Army search and rescue and medevac pilot. Hegar ran for the U.S. House in Texas’ 31st District in 2018, losing to incumbent John Carter (R) 51% to 48%.
The Texas Working Families Party and several state House members endorsed West. West has served in the state House since 1992.
Incumbent Sen. John Cornyn (R) is running for re-election. Democrats last won a statewide election in Texas in 1994. In the most recent U.S. Senate election, incumbent Ted Cruz (R) defeated then-Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) 51% to 48%.
Troy Nehls defeated Kathaleen Wall in the Republican primary runoff for Texas’ 22nd Congressional District. Nehls received 70% of the vote to Wall’s 30%.
The Houston Chronicle, SEAL PAC, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed Nehls. U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), the National Association for Gun Rights, and the Susan B. Anthony List endorsed Wall. According to campaign finance reports, Wall spent $2 million to Nehls’ $98,000 between April 1 and June 24.
Incumbent Pete Olson (R), who was first elected in 2008, did not seek re-election. Since 1979, Republicans have represented the district for all but two years, when Nick Lampson held the seat from 2007 to 2009. In 2018, Olson won re-election 51.4% to 46.5%. Major independent observers rate the 2020 general election as a toss-up or tilt Republican.
Donna Imam defeated Christine Eady Mann in the Democratic primary runoff for Texas’ 31st Congressional District. Imam received 57% of the vote to Eady Mann’s 43%.
Imam, a computer engineer, received an endorsement from former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang (D), who said, “Imam is one of the most solutions-oriented candidates I’ve ever spoken to, which is no surprise as she’s an engineer and entrepreneur.”
Imam will face incumbent Rep. John Carter (R) in the general election. Carter has represented the 31st District since its creation in 2003. He most recently won re-election in 2018 over M.J. Hegar (D), receiving 51 percent of the vote to Hegar’s 48 percent, the first time a Democratic candidate had won over 40 percent of the vote in the district.
Candace Valenzuela defeated Kim Olson in the Democratic primary runoff for Texas’ 24th Congressional District. Valenzuela received 60% of the vote to Olson’s 40%.
Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro (D), U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), several members of the U.S. House, and multiple congressional caucus PACs endorsed Valenzuela, who served on the Carrollton-Farmers Branch school board. The Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and multiple organizations supporting military veterans in politics endorsed Olson, a retired Air Force colonel.
In 2018, retiring incumbent Kenny Marchant (R) won re-election by three percentage points. Major independent observers rated the general election as a toss-up or tilt Republican.