Democrats Lupe Valdez, Andrew White to clash in runoff primary for a shot at Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

SMU Political Science Professor Matthew Wilson analyzes the upcoming Democratic Party runoff for the nomination for Texas governor.

Robert T. Garrett
Austin Bureau reporter

AUSTIN — Former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez on Tuesday cruised into a Democratic runoff for Texas governor against Houston investor Andrew White.

In a nine-candidate field of Democrats, Valdez attracted the most votes, though not the majority needed to avoid a runoff.

Valdez posted big numbers in Dallas, her adopted home, and in San Antonio, where she grew up. She also had support in heavily Hispanic South Texas, where she ran a Spanish-language radio ad in the race's final week. 

White couldn't catch up, though he ran most strongly in areas along the Gulf Coast such as Harris County, his home. In a low-dollar TV advertising campaign, he featured how last summer he used his fishing boat to rescue Hurricane Harvey victims. . . .

Incumbent GOP Gov. Greg Abbott is the prohibitive favorite, although Democrats this year can point to a few bright spots — even in Texas, noted Southern Methodist University political scientist Matthew Wilson.

The eventual Democratic nominee might benefit from a tailwind created by President Donald Trump's sagging poll ratings. In Austin and Washington, Democrats are out of power. That and Trump's unpredictability haunt all Republicans, Wilson said.

"Midterms are always dicey for the party that controls the presidency," he said.

Another potential aid to Valdez or White could lie in the fine print of a bill the GOP-controlled Legislature passed last year, Wilson said.

The lawmakers decided to abolish straight-ticket voting, but not until September 2020.

Straight-ticket voting could be important if Democrats turn out strongly this fall, he said.


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