Down-Ballot Races Tighter for Texas Incumbents

Early voting is under way in Texas for the March 6 primary elections. Republican incumbents like Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick enjoy commanding leads in a new UT-Texas Tribune poll, but numbers show tighter races down the ballot.

At least two statewide officeholders may get a run for their money -- first-term Land Commissioner George P. Bush and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.

Texas Tribune editor Ross Ramsey tells Newsradio 740 KTRH the wild card here is voter indecision.

He and the Tribune note that in Bush’s race:

--While poll results showed that Bush and Miller had more than the 50 percent support needed to avoid a May runoff, that was only after pollsters asked respondents to register a preference if they initially declined to make a choice

--Initially, 44 percent of voters in the race for land commissioner and 60 percent of the voters in the race for agriculture commissioner said they had no preference.

--When those pushed to make a choice were added to the results, Bush led his predecessor and leading challenger, Jerry Patterson, 57 to 31 percent, with two other candidates, Davey Edwards and Rick Range, each receiving 6 percent.

Ramsey notes that it’s much the same for Miller. Miller led Trey Blocker 54 to 26 percent, but Jim Hogan, who was Miller’s Democratic rival for the job in the 2014 election, had support from 20 percent of voters.

Ramsey says a Democrat still faces a stiff uphill battle in winning a statewide election, though the party is looking for signs of daylight in the fall elections.

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