Recommendations for the run-off
The Chronicle's Editorial Board is made up of seven people. That's namely our News staff, Editor Kimberley Jones, and Publisher Nick Barbaro, but we assemble as the Board for candidate endorsements, and in those instances issue no bylines in order to present a consensus voice. Doing so is often challenging and in some cases impossible: The Board's members are left-leaning, but our ideologies and opinions play in different corners of the liberal space. In partisan elections the primaries are more difficult, and especially primary run-offs. Nevertheless, we are proud to issue endorsements as a standard practice during elections, and take just as much pride recommending those we've chosen to endorse as we do in explaining the circumstances that led us to our decision.
Governor: No Endorsement
We tepidly endorsed Lupe Valdez in the primary, but her performance since March has given us pause. While we admire Valdez's progressive ideals, condemnation of LGBTQ discrimination, and promise to fight for the working class, we also note her tenuous grasp of policy, and previously advised the candidate to brush up on her institutional knowledge. Unfortunately, those shortcomings have persisted in a way that has made it unwise to invest in her candidacy, and we've seen little from Andrew White that would make us want to change our vote. We sincerely hope and frankly urge Texas Democrats to see this gubernatorial election as a true wake-up call, and to work harder to motivate and enlist formidable candidates during the next election cycle.
459th District Court: Aurora Martinez Jones
Martinez Jones, her run-off opponent Maya Guerra Gamble, and also-ran Greg Hitt each brought progressive values and a wealth of professional experience to this race. We endorsed Martinez Jones in February because of her experience as an associate judge in the county courts and continue to believe that she's best suited to manage the new civil court.
CD 10: Mike Siegel
In the crowded first round, we endorsed Austin Assistant City Attorney Siegel in part for his "professional experience and organizational support," acknowledging both his earlier gigs as a teacher and union rep and the potential they represented to help build an effective campaign. Cypress-based nurse and health care administrator Tawana Walter-Cadien has three times attempted the uphill battle against entrenched millionaire GOP incumbent Michael McCaul – never achieving 40% of the vote. We applaud her determination, but believe it's time for another stalwart to pick up the November challenge.
CD 25: Chris Perri
The Board met twice with Perri and Julie Oliver, once during our initial round of meetings (where they jockeyed for space with three other candidates) and again last week. We narrowly endorsed Perri in February on the basis of his background in criminal justice, commitment to pro bono activism, and organizational support, but noted then that we did like Oliver; her personal story and professional accomplishments continue to impress us, and we'd be eager to endorse her if Perri weren't in the race. We look forward to putting our support behind either of these two refreshing candidates come the general election in November.
CD 31: Christine Eady Mann
The run-off campaign has been a respectful affair, with both Dr. Eady Mann and decorated veteran Mary Jennings "MJ" Hegar displaying strong personal narratives, persistent engagement, and diligent promotion of progressive values – on health care, public education, immigration, veterans, women's rights, etc. Our nod goes slightly to Eady Mann on style, but could just as easily go to Hegar on November electability in a persistently conservative district.
CD 21: No Endorsement
We could not reach a consensus of support in this race. The Chronicle issued a dual endorsement in the primary, of Elliott McFadden and Derrick Crowe, who both lost out on the run-off. (Crowe took 23%, McFadden 17%.) But we remain split on Mary Wilson and Joseph Kopser, whose run-off represents a litmus test of what a party's nominee in a historically Republican district should be, and what we believe the 2018 electorate will want. Though he classifies his political transition from Reagan Republican to registered Democrat (with two decades of military service sandwiched in between) as "progress" and not opportunism, Kopser remains a centrist Democrat who is pro-business, and whose measured approach to enacting progressive policies raised concerns from some of our Board that he is, in essence, Republican-lite. His political credentials are indisputable – establishment party support, both locally and nationally – but what remains open to interpretation is the utility of that support following the 2016 presidential election, when he and his opponent were both galvanized to wage their first campaigns for public office. Kopser believes a combination of that support and a friendly rapport with Joe Strausian Republicans, who care more about economic development than who uses which bathroom, makes him the best candidate for a general election. For those who see irrelevance in that establishment and want the party to move more left, there's Mary Wilson, a dyed-in-the-wool progressive who does not employ a generic campaign staff. She is a lesbian minister in suburban Texas (Cedar Park) with experience bringing individuals from all political stripes together under her congregation and who believes her place on the political spectrum (unapologetically on the social justice left) will be a feature and not a fault in both energizing Democrats and winning over disenfranchised Republicans should she make it to the first general midterm election since America got stuck with Donald Trump.
HD 46: Chito Vela
We continue to believe that both Sheryl Cole and Chito Vela are strong candidates with impressive records. Their platforms, which include Medicaid expansion and marijuana legalization, only diverge slightly, and both candidates have progressive bona fides, to varying degrees. However, we feel Vela is better suited to tackle issues at the state Legislature, where he previously worked as a policy adviser and general counsel. Vela, powered by grassroots supporters rather than establishment stalwarts, is focused and vocal in his efforts to chip away at the right-wing powers that hold sway at the state Capitol.
HD 47: Elaina Fowler
Fowler again wins our support for the run-off. While real estate agent Vikki Goodwin's policy proposals and priorities, including fixing the foster care system and finding solutions to school finance, are certainly commendable, we feel that Fowler is best equipped for a role at the Capitol. The state director with AFSCME formerly served as chief of staff to state Rep. Helen Giddings, where she picked up valuable knowledge of how to navigate the complex legislative process. Not yet the Democratic nominee in HD 47, Fowler talks fluidly and passionately about Capitol strategy and potential legislation, assuring us she won't be slowed down by a learning curve, a comfort when stakes are so high for outnumbered Democrats.
See the Chronicle's Election Central page for more primary runoff coverage and information on where to vote.