The 2018 election season gets an early start in Texas. The Lone Star State primaries are March 6, the earliest in the country. Last month's filing deadline brought a clearer picture of the key races to watch this year. Among them, former Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson challenging current Land Commissioner George P. Bush. In Houston, Republican State Rep. Sarah Davis faces a challenge from Susanna Dokupil, a conservative who has won the endorsement of Gov. Greg Abbott. There are also four Democrats seeking to challenge longtime Houston Congressman John Culberson in the fall.
Longtime Texas political strategist Bill Miller with HillCo Partners says the Patterson-Bush race bears watching, since Patterson is a former longtime state officeholder with good name recognition, while Bush is the popular face of a Texas political dynasty. "That race shapes up to be really interesting, and I think it will be decided by the votes in Harris County," says Miller.
As for Sarah Davis and her challenge from the right, Miller thinks it is likely she'll survive. "Sarah Davis is well-liked and she's done a good job," he says. "She's not as conservative as some people would like, but for her district she's a good fit."
When it comes to successful primary campaigns, Miller still believes Ted Cruz set the standard with his successful run against David Dewhurst in the 2012 GOP U.S. Senate primary. "(Cruz) beat him by a thousand cuts," says Miller. "He didn't lop off (Dewhurst's) head, he just cut him and cut him until he was bled out, and he never knew he was bleeding...it was very artful."
Early voting for the primaries begins January 20th.