Runoffs will decide several top statewide races

March 5, 2014 2:03:49 AM PST
A scramble to fill statewide offices in one of the biggest turnovers in Texas government history began with Tuesday's primary, but several of the key contests will require runoffs to decide a final winner.

Six of Texas' top offices lack an incumbent, and while many of the Democrats ran unopposed in their primaries, crowded fields in the Republican races for attorney general, comptroller and commissioners for agriculture and railroads likely won't end until the top-two finishers square off May 27.

Attorney General Greg Abbott is running for governor, and grass-roots favorite and state Sen. Ken Paxton of McKinney won a three-way GOP race to succeed him but failed to capture a majority. He will face state Rep. Dan Branch, a key ally of Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, in the runoff.

Democrat Sam Houston, a Houston attorney, was unopposed for his party's attorney general nomination.

There was also no majority won in the Republican race for agriculture commissioner. Former state Rep. Sid Miller of Stephenville will compete with fellow former state lawmaker Tommy Merritt of Kilgore in a second round of voting.

On the Democratic side, entertainer Kinky Friedman - who has run unsuccessfully for both agriculture commissioner and governor in the past - launched another bid for agriculture commissioner, this time promising to push for legalizing marijuana. He's headed to a runoff against Jim Hogan, a little-known rancher from Cleburne who has done only minimal campaigning.

Other races were still too close to call late Tuesday - including the Republican contest for comptroller, where state Sen. Glenn Hegar of Katy and Kerrville state Rep. Harvey Hilderbran looked to be headed to a runoff and the other two candidates, former state Rep. Raul Torres of Corpus Christi and tea party activist Debra Medina, trailed badly. The race's lone Democrat, Houston businessman Michael Collier, won his party's nomination.

For railroad commissioner, Republicans Malachi Boyuls of Dallas, Becky Berger of Frisco, Houston's Ryan Sitton and former state Rep. Wayne Christian of Center are vying for the party's nomination. Clinching the Democratic rail road commissioner nomination was Steve Brown, a former Fort Bend Democratic Party chairman.

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