Rice political scientist available to discuss May 27 Texas primary runoff election
HOUSTON – (May 20, 2014) – As the Texas primary runoff election approaches, Rice political scientist Mark Jones is available to comment on four major statewide races up for a vote May 27.
The lieutenant governor’s race pits current officeholder David Dewhurst against Texas state Sen. Dan Patrick.
“Dan Patrick is expected to win the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor, and with the Republican label next to his name will be extremely well-positioned to defeat Democratic nominee Leticia Van de Putte in November,” said Jones, chair of Rice’s Political Science Department and a fellow at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.
Jones noted that Patrick victories in May and November combined with the arrival of a half-dozen new Republican senators would push the Texas Senate further to the right in 2015.
The attorney general race between Texas state Rep. Dan Branch and Texas state Sen. Ken Paxton provides “a good test of whether being the most conservative candidate trumps candidate qualifications as well as questionable past behavior by a candidate,” Jones said.
“If Paxton wins, the lesson will be that the key to winning the Republican Primary is having the most conservative record and rhetoric, pure and simple,” Jones said. “If Branch wins, the lesson will be that Republican primary voters will not blindly support the most conservative candidate if they have doubts about his/her qualifications and ethics.”
Jones said that primary runoffs for agriculture commissioner include Republicans and former Texas state Reps. Tommy Merritt and Sid Miller and Democrats Kinky Friedman and Robert Hogan.
“Friedman, whose platform focuses almost exclusively on marijuana legalization, could create headaches for the Democratic ticket in the fall,” Jones said. “And Hogan has declined to actively campaign.”
In the contest for the Republican Party’s nominee for railroad commissioner, voters will chose between former Rep. Wayne Christian and Ryan Sitton.
“Christian is a candidate with a proven conservative record but relatively limited experience in the energy industry,” Jones said. “Sitton lacks a legislative record but possesses a tremendous amount of experience working in the energy industry.”
Jones noted that some political insiders see Sitton’s energy industry experience as a plus, while others see it as a negative, due to potential conflicts of interest related to his continued ownership of a company active in the same industry he will be tasked with regulating.
Jones is a leading expert on Texas politics and has been quoted nationally about the 2014 race for Texas governor and other down-ballot races. He has also authored guest columns on these topics in Texas Monthly and the Texas Tribune.
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For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Mark Jones at 832-466-6535.
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