Democrat survives primary despite redistricting shuffle

Austin American-Statesman (TX) - Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Author: Chuck Lindell, American-Statesman Staff

Confounding Republican mapmakers yet again, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett rode a commanding wave of support from Travis County voters to a decisive primary victory Tuesday. 

Despite shifting to a district weighted toward Bexar County thanks to redistricting, Doggett handily defeated two San Antonio challengers - gaining more than half the Bexar County votes and 93 percent of the ballots cast in Travis County. 

The Austin Democrat is favored to win a 10th term in November in a predominantly Democratic district. 

In other races for the U.S. House, three Central Texas Republican incumbents easily won primary victories - Reps. Michael McCaul of Austin, John Carter of Round Rock and Lamar Smith of San Antonio. 

The 12-way Republican race for District 25, stretching from western Travis and Hays counties to just south of Fort Worth, was heading toward a July 31 runoff between former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams, who led with about 25 percent of the vote, and retired Army Lt. Col. Wes Riddle, about 10 points back. 

With only one precinct uncounted, former Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams was a distant fifth, behind business executive Dave Garrison and Cleburne Mayor Justin Hewlett. 

Doggett has served in the U.S. House since replacing the legendary Jake Pickle in 1995 in a district that was then confined to Travis County. 

He survived Republican attempts to draw him out of office in the 2004 election, switching to a Democratic district that stretched to the Gulf Coast, and switched districts again this year when Travis County was divided into five congressional districts. 

At a San Antonio party Tuesday night, Doggett said he's heading back to Washington "very much renewed and strengthened by the confidence that you placed in me as individuals and that you related to your neighbors." 

"There's no doubt that Republicans that have been so eager to get rid of me won't stop now," he said. "I don't know what district they'll draw next." 

In the race to determine Doggett's Republican opponent, former San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz was heading toward victory without the need for a runoff. 

In other races: 

U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, defeated three opponents in District 27, which includes southern Bastrop County. 

On the Democratic side, former Bastrop County Judge Ronnie McDonald was running a distant third in a race that will head to a runoff. 

U.S. Rep. Bill Flores won the GOP nomination for District 17, which includes a strip of northeastern Travis County. 

The nine-way Republican race to replace U.S. Rep. Ron Paul will go to a runoff between state Rep. Randy Weber and Pearland City Council Member Felicia Harris. 

Paul announced last year that he would not seek a ninth term so that he could focus on his presidential race. The victor will face former U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, the winner of the Democratic primary. 

In Dallas, 20-year U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson rode a rare primary endorsement by President Barack Obama to crush two Democratic opponents despite ethical concerns that surrounded her, including news that she granted Black Caucus Foundation scholarships to her relatives. 

Former U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez was well ahead - but falling short of avoiding a runoff as the vote count continued late Tuesday - against state Rep. Pete Gallego for District 23, the state's largest, sprawling over all or part of 29 West Texas counties. The winner will face U.S. Rep. Francisco "Quico" Canseco, R-San Antonio, unopposed in the GOP primary. 

In El Paso, U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes was trailing challenger Beto O'Rourke, a former El Paso City Council member, in the Democratic primary with 74 percent of precincts reporting. 

A number of Republican incumbents cruised to primary victories, including U.S. Reps. Sam Johnson of Plano, Ralph Hall of Rockwall, John Culberson of Houston, Mike Conaway of Midland, Kevin Brady of The Woodlands, Kay Granger of Fort Worth, Mac Thornberry of Amarillo, Randy Neugebauer of Lubbock and Kenny Marchant of Coppell.