Texas will hold its 2020 runoff elections July 14 to finalize which Democratic and Republican primary candidates will be on the ballot for the November general election. In more than 30 races in the March 3 primary, no candidate exceeded 50% of the vote, bringing about runoff races between the candidates who came in first and second.
The 2020 primary runoffs were supposed to take place May 26 but were postponed to July 14 in response to the outbreak of the new coronavirus in Texas.
Early voting runs from June 29 through July 10, doubling the length of the early voting period for the runoffs because of the coronavirus pandemic.
If you voted in a party primary in March, you can only vote in the same party’s runoff. As in, if you voted Republican in the Primary election, then you can only vote in the Republican runoff. Same with the Democrats. You cannot switch parties for the runoff election.
Early voting will run through July 10 and is being done at the Terry County Elections Office on the north side of The Square, across from the Courthouse. Voting will be done during regular business hours.
Locally, there are two contested races on the Democratic ballot, and one on the Republican.
In the Republican Primary race between the two candidates for the Seventh Court of Appeals in Amarillo, courtroom experience is a major factor.
Steven Denny, an Amarillo criminal and appellate attorney, and incumbent Justice Larry Doss of Lubbock are in the race for the Place 4 seat on the court. The runoff victor will win the bench, since there is no Democratic opponent in November.
On the Democratic side, There is a runoff for the Primary Candidate for United States Senator between Royce West and Mary “MJ” Hegar. The winner will run against incumbent John Cornyn (R) in the November general election.
In recent weeks, the two Democrats vying to be their party’s U.S. Senate nominee, MJ Hegar and Royce West, have received nearly two dozen endorsements, ranging from College Democrats chapters to heavyweight national groups. Along the way, the endorsements have helped fortify each campaign’s central pitch in the runoff, with Hegar’s backers touting her as Democrats’ best shot against Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and West’s allies promoting his deep experience in the Texas Senate and Democratic Party.
“I believe that the way the endorsements have broken out in this race show a strong desire by organizations and individuals, and ultimately the voters, to seek out the true Democrat in this race,” West spokesman Vince Leibowitz said in a statement, echoing a growing campaign refrain implying West has been a far more committed Democrat than Hegar has over the years.
“From passionate gun violence survivors to Texas women who are fighting to protect their reproductive rights to labor groups across the state to respected elected leaders like [U.S. Rep.] Veronica Escobar — we are building the broad Texas coalition it will take to defeat Senator Cornyn in November,” Hegar said in a statement.
From the beginning, West has put an emphasis on endorsements, touting since his announcement speech last summer, for example, that he has the support of most of his Democratic colleagues in the Legislature. Hegar, who entered politics in 2018 with her campaign against U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, has had far fewer relationships to lean on, though she does possess arguably the most important nod in the race thus far: that of the powerful Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
The only other race on the democratic runoff ballot in Terry County is that of the Railroad Commissioner. The two candidates vying for a spot in the November General Election are Roberto “Beto” Alonzo and Chrysta Casteneda. The winner will face Republican James “Jim” Wright in November. In a surprising upset, incumbent Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton lost to challenger Wright in the Republican primary for a seat on the board overseeing Texas’ oil and gas industry.
“The Railroad Commission’s number one job is to protect our natural resources and prevent the waste of oil and gas, but in its current configuration, it has abandoned that duty,” Castañeda said in a statement Wednesday afternoon announcing her candidacy.
The Railroad Commission is usually one of the lower-profile statewide races on the ballot, but in election cycles like 2020, the candidates play an important role for their parties because they top the non-federal statewide ticket. The contest for Sitton’s seat, one of three on the commission, will appear on the ballot after the races for president, U.S. Senate and U.S. House.
Castañeda has decades of oil and gas experience, first as a software engineer for companies and then as a lawyer for operators and others in the industry. In 2016, she won a $146 million verdict for the late Dallas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens in a high-profile drilling rights dispute.
Alonzo’s campaign page had this information on it:
Roberto R. “Beto” Alonzo is trailblazer: he made history when he was first elected as Representative by becoming the first Mexican American from North Texas elected to the Legislature, He won by a 2 to 1 margin with over 66% of the vote. He served for twenty years.
Alonzo served on:
- Higher Education Committee
- Calendars Committee
- House Administration Committee
- Vice Chair of the Pensions Committee
- Named Legislator of the Year in 2015 by the Texas Public Employees Association
He has been an advocate for quality public education, a strong economy, increased services to veterans, access to health care including the expansion of Medicaid for seniors and the expansion of women’s health care.
Alonzo stated, “The primary reason for regulating pipelines is public safety. It is essential that the Texas RRC be both funded and given the freedom and authority to oversee and enforce all State and Federal laws and regulations for the pipelines which fall under its purview. While industry may desire to see safety restrictions eased as a means of maximizing revenue, the pipeline operators can not be allowed to compromise public safety for the sake of corporate profits.”
(This is only a snippet of the information available on the candidates. Educate yourself and get out and vote!)