Candidates Line Up to File
Candidate filing deadline Dec. 14
With the clown-car antics of the GOP presidential nomination race headlines dominating electoral headlines, it's easy to forget that March 1, 2016 is primary day in Texas for everyone. With only three weeks to go before candidate filing closes on Dec. 14, there's already a growing list of incumbents and optimists lining up for their places up and down the ballot.
So far, it's incumbents only, with Republicans Bill Flores (Congressional District 17) and Roger Williams (CD 25), and Democrat Lloyd Doggett (CD 35) turning their paperwork in.
Earlier this year Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, announced he would not seek re-election to his District 24 seat. Now two Lakeway Republicans – ocular reconstructive surgeon Dawn Buckingham and residential construction business owner Jon Cobb – have filed to fill his soon-to-be-vacant seat. Buckingham resigned from the Lake Travis ISD Board of Trustees to concentrate on the race back in June: She also comes with some serious conservative credentials, having served as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's appointee to the Sunset Commission. However, conservative pressure group AgendaWise (one of the many front operations for self-appointed GOP kingmaker Michael Quinn Sullivan) has already slurred her as a "moderate." So far, there's only one Democratic filing: SD 21 incumbent Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, will run for her seat again.
Three of the five local Democratic reps – Donna Howard, Celia Israel, and Eddie Rodriguez – have filed, and dean of the delegation Elliott Naishtat is expected to follow suit. And Dawnna Dukes, when asked whether she planned to file, said, "Absolutely." There had been some speculation that, after sustaining serious neck injuries in a 2013 car wreck, she might retire, but, she said, "Remember they said the same thing when I adopted a child?" She said she had been planning to submit her paperwork nearer the deadline, but since she was getting questioned by the press, "Now I've got to go file." On the Republican side, the county's sole GOP rep, Paul Workman, was added to the Secretary of State's list of filers on Nov. 23. He'd been discussed as a potential candidate for Fraser's SD 24 seat, but said earlier this summer he'd be running for his own again.
There's little change in the district courts, with all the Travis County incumbents pledging to return. That includes one slightly surprising but broadly welcomed name: Judge Julie Kocurek, who announced she will run again even while she is recovering from being shot at and injured by shrapnel last month. However, that doesn't mean there are no races brewing. In October, Gov. Greg Abbott appointed his deputy chief counsel Don Clemmer to the newly created 450th District Court, and there are already two Dems hoping to succeed him in the general election. Both defense attorney Brad Urrutia and juvenile defense expert Chantal Melissa Eldridge had been touted as potential Abbott appointees to the bench, and now are headed to a primary fight for what seems like a safe Democrat position.
After Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton announced his retirement, four Democrats emerged to replace him: County Constable Sally Hernandez, Sergeant Don Rios, Lakeway Police Department Chief Todd Radford, and Deputy John Sisson. However, only two – Rios and Radford – have filed their paperwork so far, and the race has been complicated by Hamilton backpedaling and telling multiple media sources he may run again. It's smoother sailing in the Tax Assessor-Collector race: The endlessly popular Bruce Elfant has filed for a second term, and it would be a brave soul indeed that would run against Austin Democrats' favorite political uncle.