Three of four runoff races to replace three retiring North Texas Republicans in Congress went down to the wire Tuesday.
Some familiar names and new faces were among the contenders. Reps. Joe Barton and Jeb Hensarling had former staff members vying to replace them in tight races against surprisingly strong challengers. But Plano Rep. Sam Johnson won’t be replaced by another Sam Johnson — the latter, a Democrat, didn’t come close in his bid for the Democratic nomination.
Here’s how the election broke down.
3rd Congressional District
Lorie Burch, a Plano-based lawyer, defeated Johnson in the Democratic runoff in the heavily conservative district that encompasses much of Collin County.
Burch’s opponent, also a Plano lawyer, attracted attention during the primary because his name is the same as the retiring GOP congressman’s. But Burch — who has prioritized voting rights, expanded health care and stricter gun laws — nearly beat him outright in the four-candidate March primary and handily defeated him Tuesday.
Burch is one of a number of female and LGBT candidates who ran for office in Texas this election cycle. She hopes her congressional bid will model a successful campaign for candidates from “all different perspectives” at various levels of government.
She will face Republican state Sen. Van Taylor in November as they vie to replace Rep. Johnson, who has been in office since 1991. Taylor, an Iraq war veteran who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in a different district in 2006, is a well-known conservative name with a huge cash advantage.
5th Congressional District
Three-term state Rep. Lance Gooden of Terrell won the Republican runoff against Bunni Pounds, a former Hensarling staffer.
When Gooden announced his candidacy, he said it was a rural district and he wanted to return power to East Texas. The district stretches from eastern Dallas County into rural areas such as Palestine.
Gooden said last week the early voting turnout in his home base of Kaufman and Henderson counties was encouraging. He dominated both when the votes were counted Tuesday.
Pounds, a Garland resident who held a fundraising advantage, couldn’t make up the difference in Dallas County. She won Cherokee and Wood counties, but the vote totals there didn’t make much difference.
Gooden will take on Democrat Dan Wood, an attorney from Terrell, in the November general election.
6th Congressional District
In the Republican runoff, Barton’s former chief of staff, former Tarrant County Tax Assessor Ron Wright, won a narrow victory against Jake Ellzey, a former Navy pilot and Texas Veterans commissioner. Ellzey, who put up a strong showing with endorsements and fundraising, lagged far behind Wright in the March primary but had a strong showing in Ellis County in the runoff.
Ellzey had emphasized his military background in the campaign, while Wright highlighted his experience in local government and Washington. The two espoused few philosophical differences despite their attempts to draw contrasts.
The district appeared to be Barton’s to lose before he dropped out of the race late last year after lewd images of him he had sent to an ex-lover surfaced online.
Democrats hope Barton’s exit gives them an opportunity to flip the district in November. Jana Lynne Sanchez defeated Arlington civic leader Ruby Faye Woolridge, the 2016 Democratic nominee, in the party’s runoff late Tuesday.
Sanchez, who ran an aggressive campaign and has cumulatively out-raised the field, said the fact that Republicans had much higher turnout in the runoff “doesn’t matter” in the general election. She said she’d continue to run on helping working families, softening immigration laws and pushing for universal health care in the general election.
Other Texas congressional races
7th Congressional District
In a race seen as a battle between establishment and progressive Democrats, Houston attorney Lizzie Pannill Fletcher easily defeated writer-activist Laura Moser for a chance to challenge Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston. The 7th Congressional District, which went for Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, is among a handful of U.S. House seats in Texas that Democrats hope to flip in November.
Both women raised well over a million for their respective bids, with Fletcher raising more than $1.4 million and Moser nearly $1.2 million, federal records show.
23rd Congressional District
In a perennial West Texas swing district that Democrats eye as a top Lone Star target this November, former U.S. Air Force intelligence officer Gina Ortiz Jones easily defeated progressive Rick Trevino in a Democratic runoff.
Jones, who has received national support and raised more than $1.2 million in her bid, will face two-term Republican Rep. Will Hurd of San Antonio in one of the most closely watched races this fall.
21st Congressional District
In a pair of runoffs to replace retiring San Antonio Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, Ted Cruz-backed conservative Chip Roy narrowly defeated businessman Matt McCall for the Republican nomination.
Roy, Cruz’s former chief of staff, will face tech entrepreneur and veteran Joseph Kopser, who bested former math professor and minister Mary Wilson for the Democratic slot.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has named the 21st Congressional District to its 2018 battlefield list, but it’s expected to remain under GOP control. The Cook Political Report rates this contest “likely Republican.”
2nd Congressional District
In an upset, former Navy SEAL Dan Crenshaw defeated state Rep. Kevin Roberts in a bitter Republican runoff to succeed outgoing U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, a Humble Republican who is retiring after this term. Crenshaw will face Democrat Todd Litton and Libertarian Patrick Gunnels in the November general election for the open seat. The district is expected to remain under GOP control.
27th Congressional District
Republican Michael Cloud has won the GOP primary in a race to replace disgraced ex-Rep. Blake Farenthold. Cloud, a member of the State Republican Executive Committee, defeated former Texas Water Development Board Chairman Bech Bruun in the contest. He will face Democrat Eric Holguin, who bested Raul “Roy” Barrera in a separate runoff Tuesday. Barrera lost to Farenthold, a Corpus Christi Republican, in the 2016 election.
Cloud now has an edge in a separate June 30 special election to fill the remainder of Farenthold’s term. Republicans are expected to hold onto the seat this November.
31st Congressional District
Combat veteran Mary Jennings “M.J.” Hegar defeated physician Christine Eady Mann in a Democratic runoff to challenge Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, this fall. The fundraising arm of House Democrats named the district to its battlefield list, but the seat is expected to remain under Republican control.