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Here's A Look At Local Primary Races For State Senate

Miguel Gutierrez Jr.
Voters line up to cast ballots in the primaries in 2016.

Voter education is one of the biggest reasons someone either does or does not vote. Studies have shown the more schooling a person has, the higher his or her chance of going to the polls. Meanwhile, people who don’t study up on the ballot are less likely to go.  

Got questions for Ben about the elections? Email him at, and he may answer them in an upcoming column.

That’s why KUT has been trying to provide as much information as possible about the March primaries. Here’s a quick rundown of what we’ve touched on so far:

We’re also in the middle of a seven-part series explaining what each of the statewide offices – from governor to attorney general – does. The goal is to cut through the campaign promises and explain where their legislative power lies.
Let’s wrap up our “what’s on the ballot” explainers with a look at local races for state Senate. There are five Senate districts in the area around Austin. Since state senators have staggered four-year terms, only three of them are up for election this year. 

Senate District 5

Republican incumbent Sen. Charles Schwertner faces Harold Ramm in the GOP primary for this district, which includes all of Williamson County and nine other counties. Three Democrats are running to face the winner in November:

Senate District 14  

Democratic incumbent Sen. Kirk Watson doesn’t have a primary opponent. Republican George W. Hindman doesn’t have a primary opponent either.

Senate District 25  

Incumbent Sen. Donna Campbell will face off against Shannon K. McClendon in the GOP primary. Democrats Jack Guerra and Steven Kling will square off to see who will be on the ballot in November.


To help you get ready to head to the polls, KUT has joined other NPR stations across Texas to collect and answer your questions about the primaries. Today we answer a question from Bonnie Karl that takes us beyond the March 6 races.

[What’s the] process for 'third' party candidates at the state & local level?

The answer actually depends on which third party you’re talking about. The Libertarian Partycurrently has ballot access in Texas, which means it can put a candidate in every state race automatically. It has that access because one of its statewide candidates received at least 5 percent of the vote in the 2014 election. So if you want to run as a Libertarian in Texas, you just need to win the party’s nomination at this year’s state convention.

Third parties without ballot access must file a petition with the Secretary of State’s office and turn in signatures from more than 47,000 voters.

Torun as an independent, you must turn in a declaration of intent to the Secretary of State and collect signatures from voters who didn’t vote in the primaries. For a statewide office, you would need more than 47,000 signatures.

Speaking of independent candidates, KUT got an email last week from an independent candidate running for Congress. He said we should correct the “mistake” in last week’s post, which said 22 candidates were on the ballot for Congressional District 21.

Actually, we didn’t make a mistake. There are only 22 people on the primary ballot. For now, that’s all we’re talking about – the primaries. KUT will get to independent candidates, Libertarians, Green Party and other third-party candidates once the November ballot is set.

Until then, study, read and ask questions to make sure you’re ready to vote.


Ben Philpott is the Managing Editor for KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @BenPhilpottKUT.
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