In the Republican presidential primary in Bexar County, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz jumped out to an 11-point lead with 36% of the early vote over fellow Republican primary foes Donald Trump and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who each gained 25%. Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich was a distant fourth with only 5%. More than 3,000 Republican early voters casts their ballots for candidates still on the ballot but no longer in the race, either out of confusion or protest.
Cruz won Texas and Oklahoma, according to exit polls, but the rest of Super Tuesday belonged to Trump. Rubio, hoping for a breakthrough, wasn’t winning in a single state.
Texas House Speaker Joe Straus (R-121) won the early vote by a commanding 2-1 margin over challenger and former local tea party leader Jeff Judson. Straus won 59% of the early vote while Judson won just 31%. A third candidate, Sheila Bean, drew about 10% of the vote.
Supporters, volunteers and friends flooded Straus’ election watch party at the Barn Door restaurant shortly after 7 p.m. Several County and City leaders, including Sheriff Susan Pamerleau and Mayor Ivy Taylor, stopped by to congratulate Straus.
Around 8:20 p.m., Pamerleau announced that Straus had won re-election. Before he took the stage, Straus stopped to kiss his mother Joci, and held his wife Julie’s hand, smiling and waving to the crowd.
Straus, clearly elated, thanked his family, his friends and voters for their support.
“Thanks to you we have won,” Straus said, amid cheers from the audience. “This proves, that at least in this district, civility and optimism has a place in politics.” Supporters began to chant his name as he left the stage to speak with the press.
Straus said that he started the year with more than $8 million in the bank. He wasn’t sure how much he had spent leading up to the primary vote, but it was more than he had spent in other elections.
“We had two opponents, (who were) very wealthy (and) out of district, and I knew they were going to come at me,” Straus said, citing his reason for starting the campaign earlier than usual. “We weren’t quite expecting the ugliness that we saw, but because we were quite prepared we did very well.
“It was a good victory, the opponents were just puppets. I think it’s good to show other people throughout the state that they’d better not mess with District 121.”
In the Democratic presidential primary race in Bexar County, frontrunner and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won 69% of the Bexar County vote against 30% for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. She won the state as well and dominated on Super Tuesday night. Sanders won his home state of Vermont and Oklahoma, but otherwise it was all Clinton.
In the closely watched District 26 State Senate race, Sen. José Menéndez held a comfortable 10-point led in his rematch against challenger and state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, with a 55-45% advantage for the incumbent.
“I think the numbers are great, they’re even better than I expected,” Menéndez said. “I expected a close race, but I think the numbers are very gratifying. To see a 55-45 split is wonderful and I think it’ll only get better. I’m very confident.
“I think what the incumbency factor brings is legitimacy, it brings an ability to show that you’ve been able to get something done,” he added. “The endorsements came about because of the body of work, because of the commitment, because of what (the voters) saw.”
For Menéndez and Martinez Fischer, it’s a bitter rematch of the special election in 2015 which Menéndez won with 59% of the vote. With about 27% of districts reporting, the primary results were headed in that direction on Tuesday with 57% for Menéndez and 43% for Martinez Fischer.
“It could be a long night. We’re bracing ourselves,” Martinez Fischer said.
Martinez Fischer said the attack ads mailed out by the rivaling campaigns had less of an effect on voter turnout than the presidential race did.
“The enthusiasm is much higher” he said, comparing the voter turn out to the last time he and state Sen. Menéndez when head to head.
State Sen. Carlos Uresti (D-19) was having little trouble with challenger Helen Madla, a South San Independent School District board member and widow of former Sen. Frank Madla. Uresti held a 74-26% lead.
Several Texas House seats were being contested on the Democratic ballot. In District 116, the seat Martinez Fischer is leaving, Diana Arévalo won a narrow 50.4% majority of the early vote, enough to give her a win without a runoff if she can hold on. Martin Golando, a former chief of staff to Martinez Fischer who many thought was the logical successor, won only 32% of the vote and Ruby Resendez trailed with only 17%.
In House District 118, a seat vacated by retiring state Rep. Jose Farias, his son, Gabe Farias was losing for a second time to Tomas Uresti by a 59-41% margin in early voting. Gabe Farias also finished poorly in a special election held earlier this year. Uresti will face Republican candidate John Lujan in the November general election. Lujan was trouncing Robert Casias by a 78%-22% margin in the Republican primary.
In House District 120, Barbara Gervin-Hawkins, the sister of former Spur George Gervin, was atop five other candidates with 27% of the early vote. Two of the other candidates, Mario Salas, a former San Antonio city councilman, and Byron Miller, drew 21% and 20%, respectively. Art Hall, another former city councilman and district newcomer, won 14%. Two other candidates finished with less than 10% each.
In House District 124, Ina Minjarez was winning easily over Sergio Contreras by a 76-24% margin.
Javier Salazar, former SAPD spokesman, was leading the Democratic ballot for Bexar County Sheriff with 20% of the vote counted. His current 43%, however, is not enough to get out of a runoff against Andy Lopez’s almost 31%. Salazar and Lopez, a former investigator for the District Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Office employee, hope to oust Republican Susan Pamerleau, who ran unopposed this year. Fellow Democrats Charles “Chazz” Cervantes and Matt Ninan were also on the ballot with 17% and 8% respectively.
Click here to see voting results in Bexar County.
*Top image: State Sen. José Menéndez smiles with his supporters as victory is announced. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone.