11 Texas congressional primary races to watch

BY TEXAS TRIBUNE STAFF

Across Texas, dozens of candidates in crowded congressional primaries are spending millions of dollars in their bids to vie for voters, creating a boisterous primary season unlike the state has seen in decades.

The high number of free-for-all races was prompted by the decisions of eight men in the Texas Congressional delegation – six Republicans and two Democrats – who opted to not run for re-election.

Then there are three other U.S. House races that have drawn national attention because Democrats view the Republican incumbents as vulnerable.

Below are snapshots of the most interesting congressional primaries. To see all the statewide and legislative races on the ballot, click here.

And check out our earlier overview, 38 Texas legislative primary races to watch.

R Congressional District 2

David Balat

Age

45

Background

Health care executive

Money raised in 2017-18

$177,119 (includes $86,600 in loans from the candidate)

Dan Crenshaw

Age

33

Background

Retired Navy SEAL

Money raised in 2017-18

$171,282

Jonny Havens

Age

Did not respond

Background

Attorney; U.S. Army veteran

Money raised in 2017-18

$150,205 (includes $80,000 in loans from the candidate)

Justin Lurie

Age

38

Background

Investment banker

Money raised in 2017-18

$6,843 (includes $2,500 in loans from the candidate)

Kevin Roberts

Age

52

Background

State representative from Houston; executive director of a law firm

Money raised in 2017-18

$663,071 (includes $323,125 in loans and contributions from the candidate)

Jon Spiers

Age

Did not respond

Background

Doctor, lawyer

Money raised in 2017-18

$49,338 (includes $14,400 in loans and contributions from the candidate)

Rick Walker

Age

39

Background

CEO of GreenEfficient, an environmental consulting firm

Money raised in 2017-18

$477,170 (includes $373,000 in loans from the candidate)

Kathaleen Wall

Age

51

Background

Longtime GOP fundraiser; investor; technology consultant

Money raised in 2017-18

$5,951,938 (includes $5,919,732 contributed by the candidate)

Malcolm Edwin Whittaker

Age

Did not respond

Background

Lawyer

Money raised in 2017-18

$7,785 (includes $200 contributed by the candidate)

OUR TAKE ON THE RACE

The race to replace Houston Republican Ted Poe has drawn nine Republicans and five Democrats, but the seat is expected to stay in Republican hands. The question here is whether Wall and her $6 million in self-funding can be stopped. It’s a staggering sum, even in the expensive Houston media market, but races this crowded normally lead to a runoff. To be sure, Roberts has a stable of consultants who know how to win federal races, and Balat had a head start in building up his campaign infrastructure by launching a bid earlier for a neighboring seat. Walker’s healthy campaign account has also kept his name in the mix as a potential runoff contender.

R Congressional District 5

Bunni Pounds

Age

43

Background

Republican fundraiser

Money raised in 2017-18

$330,503

Danny Campbell

Age

Did not respond

Background

Businessman

Money raised in 2017-18

$3,775

Jason Wright

Age

42

Background

Former staffer for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas

Money raised in 2017-18

$125,836

Kenneth Sheets

Age

41

Background

Former state representative from Dallas

Money raised in 2017-18

$184,190 (includes $500 contribution from the candidate)

Lance Gooden

Age

35

Background

State representative from Terrell

Money raised in 2017-18

$159,430

Sam Deen

Age

34

Background

Owner, CrossFit Van Zandt

Money raised in 2017-18

$69,760 (includes $4,115 contribution from the candidate)

Two other candidates also filed for this primary but have not reported any campaign fundraising or spending with the Federal Election Commission: Charles Lingerfelt and David Williams.

OUR TAKE ON THE RACE

This race to replace Dallas Republican Jeb Hensarling has drawn eight Republicans and one Democrat but the seat is expected to stay in Republican hands. Pounds, who has been endorsed by Hensarling, has been the fundraising leader in the field, though at least three other candidates bring various strengths that could secure them a spot in a likely runoff to represent a district that spans eight counties, mostly southwest of Dallas. Wright is being backed by his former boss, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, while Gooden and Sheets have geographic advantages in district due to their having represented parts of it in the Texas House.

R Congressional District 6

Shawn Dandridge

Age

Dandridge declined to specify beyond saying he is in his 30s

Background

IT network engineer expert

Money raised in 2017-18

$5,126 (includes $5,125 in loans from the candidate)

Jake Ellzey

Age

48

Background

Airline pilot; retired U.S. Navy fighter pilot

Money raised in 2017-18

$100,777 (includes $4,734 in loans from the candidate)

Shannon Dubberly

Age

36

Background

Former defense contractor

Money raised in 2017-18

$75,661 (includes $15,000 in loans from the candidate)

Mark Mitchell

Age

Did not respond.

Background

Physician; attorney; small-business owner

Money raised in 2017-18

$9,083 (includes $8,683 in loans from the candidate)

Ron Wright

Age

64

Background

Tarrant County tax-assessor collector

Money raised in 2017-18

$105,370

Troy Ratterree

Age

Did not respond.

Background

Owner of Compressed Air Systems LLC

Money raised in 2017-18

$22,360 (includes $20,000 in loans from the candidate)

Four other candidates also filed for this primary but have not reported any campaign fundraising or spending with the Federal Election Commission: Ken Cope, Thomas Dillingham, Kevin Harrison, Mel Hassell and Debora Gagliardi.

OUR TAKE ON THE RACE

This race to replace Ennis Republican Joe Barton, who has held the seat since 1985, has drawn 11 Republicans and five Democrats. Barton didn’t announce his decision to not run again until late November, creating an abridged window for candidates to build up their campaigns and raise money to run in a district that includes part of Tarrant County and all of Navarro and Ellis counties. Wright was widely perceived early on as the strongest candidate in this field, thanks to his current gig as Tarrant County’s tax-assessor collector. But Ellzey and Dubberly have more recently posted impressive campaign finance numbers. This is normally a safe Republican seat, but there is one ominous warning sign for the GOP: Democrat Jana Lynch Sanchez has managed to raise more so far than any of the Republicans.

D Congressional District 7

Joshua A. Butler

Age

Did not respond

Background

University of Houston development official

Money raised in 2017-18

$55,763 (includes $250 in contributions from the candidate)

James Cargas

Age

51

Background

Former Capitol Hill staffer; former Clinton administration staffer; energy attorney

Money raised in 2017-18

$85,905 (includes $24,000 in contributions from the candidate)

Lizzie Pannill Fletcher

Age

43

Background

Attorney

Money raised in 2017-18

$860,148 (includes $15,455 in contributions from the candidate)

Laura Moser

Age

40

Background

Journalist; activist

Money raised in 2017-18

$765,646 (includes $1,220 in contributions from the candidate)

Ivan Sanchez

Age

30

Background

Former Congressional staffer

Money raised in 2017-18

$18,025 (includes $3,385 in loans from the candidate)

Alex Triantaphyllis

Age

33

Background

Non-profit executive

Money raised in 2017-18

$1,050,396 (includes $2,002 in contributions from the candidate)

Jason Westin

Age

40

Background

Cancer researcher

Money raised in 2017-18

$500,390 (includes $40,954 in loans and contributions from the candidate)

OUR TAKE ON THE RACE

The race to unseat Houston Republican John Culberson has attracted one of the most talented Democratic House fields in the country. Credit in large part the fact that, in 2016, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in the district, which encompasses wealthy enclaves of West Houston and stretches out into Katy. But the race became far more volatile in late February, after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee took the rare step of posting negative info on Moser, galvanizing her supporters. Who makes it to the runoff is anyone’s guess, but the betting money is on some pairing of Moser, Fletcher and Triantaphyllis.

D Congressional District 16

John Carrillo

Age

Did not respond.

Background

Communications director and lecturer at the University of Texas at El Paso

Money raised in 2017-18

$3,220

Norma Chávez

Age

57

Background

Former state representative from El Paso

Money raised in 2017-18

$10,483 (includes $7,600 in loans from the candidate)

Veronica Escobar

Age

48

Background

Former El Paso county commissioner and county judge

Money raised in 2017-18

$816,685

Dori Fenenbock

Age

50

Background

Former president of the El Paso Independent School District Board of Trustees; attorney; former small-business owner

Money raised in 2017-18

$964,764 (includes $350,030 in loans from the candidate)

Enrique Garcia

Age

45

Background

Immigration attorney

Money raised in 2017-18

$92,154 (includes $75,300 in loans)

Jerome Tilghman

Age

66

Background

Public school teacher; former U.S. Army field grade officer

Money raised in 2017-18

$16,607

OUR TAKE ON THE RACE

This race to replace El Paso Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who is running for U.S. Senate, has drawn six Democrats and two Republicans, but the district is likely to stay in Democratic hands. Escobar, whom O’Rourke has endorsed, is running as a progressive with valuable experience leading a county government. She and Fenenbock are leading the money race and have hauled in some key endorsements. Chávez is banking on her name ID and experience in the Texas House to help her pull an upset.

R Congressional District 21

Ivan Andarza

Age

46

Background

Attorney

Money raised in 2017-18

$8,897 (includes $7,862 in contributions from the candidate)

Francisco “Quico” Canseco

Age

68

Background

Former congressman from San Antonio

Money raised in 2017-18

$20,325

Mauro Garza

Age

53

Background

Entrepreneur

Money raised in 2017-18

$117,201 (all but $1 loaned by the candidate)

Foster Hagen

Age

59

Background

Oil and gas investor

Money raised in 2017-18

$13,685 (all of it contributed by the candidate)

Jason Isaac

Age

46

Background

State representative from Dripping Springs

Money raised in 2017-18

$203,100

Ryan Krause

Age

Did not respond

Background

Did not respond

Money raised in 2017-18

$25,956 (includes $16,588 in loans from the candidate)

Matt McCall

Age

53

Background

Business owner

Money raised in 2017-18

$168,606 (includes $110,528 in loans from the candidate)

Susan Narvaiz

Age

59

Background

Former San Marcos mayor; president and CEO, Core Strategies

Money raised in 2017-18

$60,109 (including $39,032 from the candidate)

William Negley

Age

34

Background

Former CIA agent

Money raised in 2017-18

$307,252 (includes $110,166  in loans and contributions from the candidate)

Al M. Poteet

Age

68

Background

Former top executive with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Money raised in 2017-18

$5,509 (all but $350 loaned by the candidate)

Autry J. Pruitt

Age

38

Background

Conservative commentator

Money raised in 2017-18

$13,191

Chip Roy

Age

45

Background

Former staffer for multiple Texas Republican officials, including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz

Money raised in 2017-18

$372,574 (includes $1,309 in contributions from the candidate)

Jenifer Sarver

Age

41

Background

Communications consultant

Money raised in 2017-18

$172,950 (includes $8,496 in loans and contributions from the candidate)

Robert Stovall

Age

54

Background

Former Bexar County GOP chairman

Money raised in 2017-18

$128,284 (includes $26,035 in loans and contributions from the candidate)

Samuel Temple

Age

34

Background

Statistician with AT&T

Money raised in 2017-18

$14,372

Peggy Wardlaw

Background

Small-business owner

Money raised in 2017-18

$12,250 (all loaned by the candidate)

Two other candidates also filed for this primary but have not reported any campaign fundraising or spending with the Federal Election Commission: Eric Burkhart and Anthony J. White.

OUR TAKE ON THE RACE

This race to replace San Antonio Republican Lamar Smith has drawn more candidates than any other in Texas this year – 18 Republicans and four Democrats. The GOP side is all but guaranteed to go to a runoff, with at least a few candidates seen as more likely to advance than others: Roy, Negley and Isaac. The district runs from South Austin to San Antonio and extends westward into the Hill Country.

D Congressional District 21

Derrick Crowe

Age

37

Background

Former congressional staffer

Money raised in 2017-18

$157,378 (includes $830 in contributions from the candidate)

Joseph Kopser

Age

47

Background

Tech entrepreneur

Money raised in 2017-18

$774,225 (includes $7,152 in contributions from the candidate)

Elliott McFadden

Age

43

Background

CEO, Austin B-cycle

Money raised in 2017-18

$107,560 (includes $18,160 in loans from the candidate)

Mary Street Wilson

Age

58

Background

Minister

Money raised in 2017-18

$39,974 (includes $26,463 in loans and contributions from the candidate)

OUR TAKE ON THE RACE

While retiring San Antonio Republican Lamar Smith easily won re-election for decades, Democrats are hopeful that the district, which runs from South Austin to San Antonio and extends westward into the Hill Country, is in play this year. Kopser has proven to be a strong candidate and impressive fundraiser, though to become the nominee, he will have to outlast at least two candidates running to his left: Crowe and McFadden.

D Congressional District 23

Judy Canales

Age

55

Background

Former Obama and Clinton appointee

Money raised in 2017-18

$32,945 (includes $9,046 in loans and contributions from the candidate)

Jay Hulings

Age

42

Background

Former federal prosecutor

Money raised in 2017-18

$498,638 (includes $4,374 in contributions from the candidate)

Gina Ortiz Jones

Age

37

Background

Former Air Force intelligence officer

Money raised in 2017-18

$598,778 (includes $200 in contributions from the candidate)

Rick Treviño

Age

33

Background

Former high school teacher

Money raised in 2017-18

$19,623 (includes $3,286 in loans from the candidate)

Angela “Angie” Villescaz

Age

Did not respond.

Background

Former college recruiter

Money raised in 2017-18

$2,535 (includes $2,000 in loans from the candidate)

OUR TAKE ON THE RACE

This perennial swing district, which spans from San Antonio to El Paso and includes hundreds of miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, has been represented by Helotes Republican Will Hurd since 2015. In the five-way Democratic primary, Hulings and Jones are seen as the leading candidates due to their fundraising and endorsements, though Canales and Treviño cannot be entirely counted out: Canales is the only candidate not from San Antonio, and Treviño is running the furthest to the left in the field.

R Congressional District 27

Bech Bruun

Age

Did not respond

Background

Former state Water Development Board chairman; attorney

Money raised in 2017-18

$272,007

Michael Cloud

Age

42

Background

Former Victoria County GOP chairman

Money raised in 2017-18

$83,302

Chris Mapp

Age

57

Background

Small-business owner

Money raised in 2017-18

$32,138 (includes $13,123 in loans from the candidate)

Three other candidates also filed for this primary but have not reported any campaign fundraising or spending with the Federal Election Commission: Eddie Gassman, John Grunwald and Jerry Hall.

OUR TAKE ON THE RACE

The race to replace retiring Corpus Christi Republican Blake Farenthold has drawn six Republicans and four Democrats, and the seat is expected to stay in GOP hands. Bruun has secured endorsement after endorsement and is the fundraising leader to represent a Southeast Texas district that stretches across 13 counties. There is the possibility that Bruun could draw a majority of the vote and avoid a runoff, but Cloud is running a robust enough ground game that there are no assurances.

D Congressional District 29

Roel Garcia

Age

Did not respond

Background

Lawyer

Money raised in 2017-18

$53,677 (includes $27,684 in loans from the candidate)

Sylvia Garcia

Age

67

Background

State senator; former Harris County commissioner

Money raised in 2017-18

$484,885 (includes $103,130 in loans and contributions from the candidate)

Tahir Javed

Age

51

Background

Health care executive

Money raised in 2017-18

$1,226,384 (includes $800,000 in loans from the candidate)

Hector Adrian Morales

Age

30

Background

Teacher

Money raised in 2017-18

$10,117 (includes $105 in contributions from the candidate)

Augustine Reyes

Age

37

Background

Veteran; elevator journeyman

Money raised in 2017-18

$12,380 (includes $3,125 in loans from the candidate)

Pedro Valencia

Age

39

Background

Small-business owner

Money raised in 2017-18

$5,423 (includes $3,025 in loans from the candidate)

One other candidate also filed for this primary but has not reported any campaign fundraising or spending with the Federal Election Commission: Dominique Michelle Garcia.

OUR TAKE ON THE RACE

This race to replace retiring Houston Democrat Gene Green has drawn six Democrats and two Republicans. The betting money in this heavily Hispanic district that encompasses eastern and northern Houston is on Sylvia Garcia. A longtime political fixture in Houston, she has prime name identification among local voters and boatloads of local and national endorsements. That said, Javed is dumping piles of his own money into the race and recently drew the surprising endorsement of U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York. Between Javed’s self-funding and the crowded field, this one could go to a runoff.

D Congressional District 32

Colin Allred

Age

34

Background

Attorney; former HUD staffer; former NFL player

Money raised in 2017-18

$542,021 (includes $25,000 in loans from the candidate)

Ed Meier

Age

41

Background

Former State Department official and Hillary Clinton campaign staffer

Money raised in 2017-18

$913,431

Lillian Salerno

Age

57

Background

Former Obama campaign staffer; former Obama administration official; HIV activist

Money raised in 2017-18

$431,783 (includes $17,409 in contributions from the candidate)

George Rodriguez

Age

49

Background

Immigration attorney

Money raised in 2017-18

$118,444 (includes $8,146 in contributions from the candidate)

Ronald William Marshall

Age

Did not respond

Background

Veteran; engineer

Money raised in 2017-18

$3,661 (all but $16 of it in loans and contributions from the candidate)

Todd Maternowski

Age

Did not respond.

Background

Writer; business owner

Money raised in 2017-18

$5,381

Brett Shipp

Age

59

Background

Former journalist

Money raised in 2017-18

$114,117 (includes $9,000 in loans from the candidate)

OUR TAKE ON THE RACE

Democrats swarmed after Hillary Clinton got more votes than Donald Trump in Republican U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions’ district which includes parts of Dallas and Collin counties. Meier is leaps and bounds ahead of the other six candidates on fundraising and as such is expected to make a likely runoff. Shipp posted weak fundraising but has enviable name identification, thanks to his longtime career as a local television journalist. Watch for him, Salerno or Allred to make serious plays for the runoff.