From U.S. Senator To Railroad Commissioner: Here Are The 2018 Statewide Races

Oct 19, 2018

We here at KUT spend a lot of time reminding you about the down-ballot races in an election. This season, we hosted City Council forums because local elections really affect your life the most.

But we know the big shiny races at the top of the ticket get more attention. So, here's what you need to know about the races everyone in the state gets a chance to vote on.

U.S. Senate

Stop me if you've heard about this one. OK, I know you have, but I'm gonna continue anyway.

If 2016 had worked out the way Republican Ted Cruz wanted, he'd be president right now, instead of asking for a second term in office. His campaign focuses on his accomplishments over the last six years. That includes authoring and passing 32 pieces of legislation. He highlights his 100 percent rating by anti-abortion and pro-Israel groups. He also touts his support of gun rights, the border wall and efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  

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His Democratic opponent is El Paso Congressman Beto O'Rourke, who is campaigning on trying to fix the dysfunction in Washington. He made headlines last year when he livestreamed a road trip from Texas to the U.S. Capitol with Republican Congressman Will Hurd. O'Rourke holds directly opposite views from Cruz on issues like guns and abortion rights, the Affordable Care Act and immigration.

Libertarian Neal Dikeman is running on the traditional issues pushed by the third party, including individual freedoms, privacy and getting the “government out of the bedroom.” Dikeman also wants to pass legislation that creates a clearly defined path to citizenship.

Governor

With all the attention in Texas going to the U.S. Senate race, you'd be forgiven for not knowing much about the governor's race. I mean, KUT won't forgive you, we've been talking about the dang race for months.

Anyway ...

Republican incumbent Greg Abbott is trying to secure his second term in office. He's pushing his accomplishments during his first term, including passage of an anti-sanctuary cities law, and the state's top ranking in several business-climate surveys. If he wins a second term, he wants to implement a school-safety plan he released after the deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School. He also wants to continue efforts to lower property taxes.

Former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez is the Democrat on the ballot. She's pushing reforms to the criminal justice system, like ending mass incarceration and decriminalizing marijuana possession. She also wants to boost state spending on public education to help fix the current school finance system. She supports the creation of a universal background check for gun purchases and the passage of so-called red-flag laws that give courts the ability to remove guns from those deemed at risk of hurting themselves or others.

Libertarian Mark Tippetts has a platform with three simple messages: He supports a free market economy and decriminalizing marijuana, and he opposes President Trump's border wall.

Lieutenant Governor

Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is seeking his second term in office. While he doesn't list campaign issues on his website, he's never shy about sharing what'd he do with another four years in office. Patrick wants to continue efforts to cut government spending. He supports a school voucher plan and wants a state law that restricts bathroom use for transgender people. He opposes Abbott's suggestion that the Legislature pass a red-flag law that lets courts remove guns from someone deemed a danger to themselves and others.

Democrat Mike Collier, honestly, doesn't agree with Patrick on much of anything. He's opposed to school vouchers and a bathroom bill. He'd like to see the state increase its funding of public education as a way to lower property taxes. He wants the state to pass Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, and he'd like to see those red-flag gun laws passed.

Libertarian Kerry McKennon is quite direct on his issues. He wants to eliminate property taxes, the death penalty, laws against marijuana and prostitution, and bans on gambling.

Comptroller

Republican incumbent Glenn Hegar is seeking a second term as the state's accountant. His campaign focuses on things like government transparency and tax reform, along with cutting regulation and red tape for the state's businesses. But his website also points to topics that have nothing to do with the comptroller's office, like religious liberty, abortion and gun rights.

Democrat Joi Chevalier's campaign focuses on two major areas: tax and revenue modernization, and improved costs and benefits analysis to help drive better priorities. Yeah, a little wonky. The first part, tax and revenue modernization, focuses on closing loopholes and updating current taxes. The second part is all about making sure state money is being spent the right way. That includes studying what happens if the state declines to invest in certain areas, like public education or infrastructure, and local governments are forced to sell bonds to cover the bills.

Ben Sanders wants to push forward the traditional Libertarian agenda from the comptroller's office: limited government, personal responsibility and constitutional rights.

Attorney General

Republican incumbent Ken Paxton is seeking his second term in office. The last four years have been marked by coverage of his indictments on securities fraud charges and his office's attack on federal laws, including recent efforts to eliminate the Affordable Care Act's ban on charging people with pre-existing conditions more for health insurance. His re-election bid includes issues like securing the border, banning abortion, protecting gun rights and guarding religious freedoms.

Democrat Justin Nelson has hammered on traditional Democratic priorities like consumer protections, immigration changes, and ending gerrymandering. But he's gained the most attention for rallying against Paxton's efforts to end the pre-existing condition ban on health insurance.

Libertarian Michael Ray Harris, an attorney, is also on the ballot.

Agriculture Commissioner

Republican incumbent Sid Miller is pushing his accomplishments during his four years in office. While his biggest splashes have been with controversial social media posts, his campaign focuses on making sure BBQ scales weigh meat correctly and efforts to find and stop credit card skimmers at gas stations. He also canceled the nutritional food program started by former first lady Michelle Obama and brought deep fryers back to school lunchrooms.

Democrat Kim Olson is running on preserving the state's water and land, specifically farmland. She wants to increase the nutritional value of school lunches, without turning off kids, and make sure the state's food supply is safe.

Libertarian Richard Carpenter is also running.

Land Commissioner

Republican incumbent George P. Bush is running for a second term as land commissioner. He is focusing on his accomplishments in office, which he says include fighting radical environmentalists and trial lawyers, working to preserve the Alamo, and fighting the federal government's attempt to take over some Texas land. His website also focuses on his opposition to abortion and support of public school vouchers, which don't actually have anything to do with the Land Office.

Democrat Miguel Suazo has criticized Bush's efforts at preserving the Alamo and protecting the Gulf Coast. He says the office's response to Hurricane Harvey has been a disaster, and he wants to spend more time and resources preparing the coast for the next storm. He acknowledges the science behind climate change and wants to promote a mix of renewable and fossil fuels to make sure the economy stays strong.

Libertarian Matt Piña also criticizes Bush's handling of the Alamo and says he'd return control of the property back to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. He's critical of the state's hurricane recovery efforts and wants to do a better job supporting disabled veterans through the Land Office.

Railroad Commissioner

Republican Christi Craddick is running for a second term. She believes the job of the commission should be to thoughtfully regulate the state's oil and gas industry. She wants to limit federal regulations in the state and balance efforts to protect Texans while not hurting energy production.

Democrat Roman McAllen has been a critic of the way Craddick does her job. He says he's worried about campaign donations from energy companies that help pick who regulates the industry. He would push to protect the state's water and focus on enforcing existing environmental protections.

Libertarian Mike Wright is running on three main issues: He wants greater transparency within the commission, better efforts to recycle the state's water and to ensure energy companies that pollute are held accountable.