Staff writers David Taffet and Anna Waugh are headed out to election night watch parties, and I’m here at the Instant Tea Brewery. Together we’ll be bringing you coverage of tonight’s primary election results, beginning with early voting results shortly after polls close at 7 p.m. Here are just a few of the races we’ll be watching closely:
• In the GOP Texas Senate race, the question is whether former solicitor general Ted Cruz or former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert can force a runoff against Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. All four major Republican candidates for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s seat have come out against both same-sex marriage and civil unions, but the anti-gay rhetoric has been more harsh from some than from others. On the Democratic side, Dallas community organizer Sean Hubbard and former State Rep. Paul Sadler of Henderson are vying for the nomination. Both Hubbard and Sadler say they support full LGBT equality, but the nominee will face a steep uphill battle, as no Democrat has won a statewide race since 1994.
• In Congressional District 30, incumbent Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas is widely considered a staunch LGBT ally. However, Johnson’s reputation was recently tarnished by the revelation that she voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, but was running misleading campaign ads suggesting that she’s had a perfect record on LGBT issues for 20 years. Johnson is facing her first serious primary challenge ever in the form of attorney Taj Clayton and state Rep. Barbara Mallory Caraway.
• In Congressional District 33, several strong LGBT allies are vying to fill a new majority-minority Democratic seat created by redistricting that spans Dallas and Tarrant counties. The candidates include State Rep. Marc Veasey of Fort Worth and former State Rep. Domingo Garcia of Dallas, who are widely expected to advance to a runoff. But don’t count out Fort Worth City Councilwoman Kathleen Hicks, former Dallas City Councilman Steve Salazar and dentist David Alameel.
• Openly gay Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez has only token opposition in her bid to secure the Democratic nomination and advance to the general election, in which she’ll be seeking a third four-year term.
• Mary Gonzalez is thought to have the best chance of four openly LGBT candidates statewide to become Texas’ only openly LGBT legislator — and its first since Glen Maxey. Gonzalez faces Hector Enriquez in the race for the Democratic nomination in El Paso’s House District 75, a seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Rep. Chente Quintinilla. With a third Democratic candidate not mounting a campaign and no Republicans on the ballot, the winner is likely to be determined tonight.
• Longtime LGBT ally Theresa Daniel faces two other candidates on the Democratic side in the race for the District 1 seat on the Dallas County Commissioners Court. On the Republican side, Cecile Fernandez has expressed support for the LGBT community, and has been attacked by opponent Larry Miller for reaching out to Log Cabin Republicans. The winner of the general election will replace retiring Republican Commissioner Maurine Dickey.
• In Fort Worth’s House District 90, incumbent and staunch LGBT ally Lon Burnam is facing a primary challenge from openly gay school board member Carlos Vasquez.
• George Clayton, the first openly gay Republican elected official in the state’s history, is vying for re-election to his District 12 State Board of Education seat, which covers all of Collin County and parts of northern Dallas County. Clayton is facing a primary challenge from Geraldine “Tincy” Miller — who held the seat for more than two decades before Clayton pulled off a shocking upset in 2010 — as well as two other candidates.