Reading the election returns from the March 6 primaries

Sylvia Garcia

Sylvia Garcia of Houston congratulates supporters after a primary win.


Forty-two out of 55 Republican and Democratic candidates backed by Texas AFT in contested primary elections on March 6 either won their party’s nomination outright or made it into a runoff. Runoffs to be held on May 22 will decide the ultimate nominee in five of these races.

Our marquee winners in U.S. congressional contests were Veronica Escobar in El Paso and Sylvia Garcia in Houston. Both won by a landslide, with unstinting support from AFT at the local, state, and national levels. They are now odds-on favorites to serve as the first Latina members of Congress from Texas once they clear the final hurdle in the November 6 general election.

Another big story coming out of the March 6 primaries is the failure of hard-right billionaires operating through pro-voucher, anti-public-school groups like Empower Texans to remake the Texas House in their likeness. In Republican primaries all across the state, common-sense conservatives who are friends of public education prevailed against this attack. Prominent examples include Reps. Four Price of Amarillo, Ken King of Canadian, Charlie Geren of Fort Worth, Lynn Stucky of Sanger, Dan Flynn of Van, Chris Paddie of Marshall, Hugh Shine of Temple, J.D. Sheffield of Gatesville, John Raney of Bryan, and Lyle Larson of San Antonio. The Empower Texans moneybags also failed in their effort to oust Sen. Kel Seliger of Amarillo in his Republican primary, which Seliger won outright against two opponents.

On the Democratic side, prominent primary winners backed by Texas AFT include Mike Collier for lieutenant governor, who will take on incumbent Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in November, with Patrick’s drive to privatize public education as a defining issue. Another March 6 winner was State Board of Education member Ruben Cortez of Brownsville, who enjoyed strong support from Texas AFT members from the Rio Grande Valley to Corpus Christi.

Rep. Mary Gonzalez of Clint, one of the strongest champions of public education and educators in the Legislature, won a resounding victory in her re-election fight in the Democratic primary. Hers was just the leading example of a score of successes for Democratic legislative incumbents and newcomers backed by Texas AFT.

The overall primary results tell us that the common-sense coalition of Republicans and Democrats who stood up for public education and education employees against bad ideas in the Texas Legislature last session is well on the way to returning in strength for the 2019 legislative session. We will have multiple opportunities in the May 22 runoffs and November 6 general election to reinforce this wholesome trend. For more on that theme, stay tuned to the Hotline and other Texas AFT media.