Campaign signs line the grass at Lion's Field.
Campaign signs speckle a grassy area at Lions Field. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Friday marks the last day of early voting in the 2018 primaries for statewide offices and Congressional midterms. Voters will have one more opportunity to vote in this cycle on primary election day, March 6.

Bexar County residents this year may vote for representatives to the U.S. Senate and U.S. House Districts 21, 23, and 35; Texas Senate District 25 and House Districts 116-124; and statewide positions including governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, district judges, various commissioners, and more.

Also on the ballot: contested races for Bexar County district attorney and county commissioner in Precinct 2, as well as chairs for the Bexar County Democratic and Republican parties.

Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, and registered voters with a valid form of photo identification may cast ballots at one of 38 early voting locations. For sample ballots from both parties, click here.

On primary election day, voters in Bexar County must go to the polling location tied to the residential address on their voter registration. To find that location, click here. That day, VIA Metropolitan Transit will offer free service to riders who present a valid voter registration card.

At the close of early voting on March 1, Democratic voters had cast 33,220 ballots, and Republican voters 26,157. 

Texas is an open-primary state, so voters choose at the polls whether they want to vote on the Democratic or Republican ballot. In the case of a May 22 runoff in any of the races, voters must select the same ballot as in the primary. Citizens don’t have to vote in a primary to vote in the November general election. The last day to register to vote in the Nov. 6 election is Tuesday, Oct. 9.

Here are some of the most prominent races:

Governor

Nine Democrats are running to represent the party in the Texas Governor’s race, including primary frontrunners former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and Houston businessman Andrew White. Incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott faces two Republican primary opponents, but they are not expected to draw a significant amount of voters away from Abbott, who has more than $43 million in the bank.

Lieutenant Governor

Incumbent Dan Patrick faces Scott Milder in the Republican primary. The lone challenger is a businessman and former Rockwall City Council member.

Mike Collier is one of two Democrats vying for the position. Collier, the former treasurer of the Texas Democratic Party, lists property tax and public education reform as his top issues. Michael Cooper, a retired auto dealer sales manager, is running to increase education in the state.

U.S. Senator

Four Republicans are running against incumbent U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz to represent Texas, but the larger challenge appears to come from across the aisle. State Rep Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) is the “clear frontrunner” of three in the Democratic primary, according the the Texas Tribune. O’Rourke, who refuses to accept campaign funding from political action committees, has been raising more money than Cruz. The incumbent, however, maintains more cash on hand.

U.S. House District 21

There are 22 candidates currently in the race for Texas’ 21st Congressional District, held by U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-San Antonio) for the last 31 years. Smith announced his retirement in November, prompting 18 Republicans and four Democrats to seek the seat. Republican candidates include State Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs); Chip Roy, former chief of staff of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas); and former Bexar County Republican Party Chairman Robert Stovall.

U.S. House District 23

The primary for Texas’ 23rd Congressional District, which includes much of the Texas border with Mexico, has incumbent U.S. Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) facing a lone Republican challenger and five Democratic hopefuls.

Hurd is a San Antonio native and a former undercover officer with the Central Intelligence Agency. Alma Arredondo-Lynch is a Uvalde-based dentist and rancher by trade, who lists repealing Obamacare as her top issue.

Rick Treviño, who ran for San Antonio City Council District 6 in May 2017, is running against former Air Force intelligence officer Gina Ortiz Jones and former San Antonio federal prosecutor Jay Hulings in the Democratic primary.

U.S. House District 35

Two Republicans are seeking to unseat U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), who has represented a district based in Austin since 1995, from his multi-city district. Sherill Kenneth Alexander is a fifth generation Texan who lists safer borders and term limits as his top issues. David Smalling worked for 40 years as an electrician and considers equality in opportunity, dignity, and progress as his core principles.

State Rep. District 116

Incumbent Diana Arévalo (D-San Antonio) faces a lone Democratic challenger, former State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, who previously served District 116 for more than 15 years before leaving it for an unsuccessful run for a seat in the Texas Senate. Despite only serving one term so far, the liberal Legislative Study Group Caucus named Arévalo “Freshman of the Year.” The winner will go on to face the lone Republican candidate, Fernando Padron.

State Rep. District 121

Seven candidates – six Republicans and one Democrat – are running to succeed House Speaker Joe Straus (R-121), who announced in October that he would not seek re-election.

Several of Republican candidates have been elected to public offices, including former San Antonio City Council member Carlton Soules (D10), or have run for the district seat before, such as Matt Beebe.

State Rep. District 122

Abbott recently weighed in on the race for Texas House District 122, endorsing Chris Fails, mayor of Hollywood Park, over incumbent Rep. Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio).

Larson, an outspoken critic of Abbott, chairs the House Natural Resources Committee and has served four terms.

The governor criticized Larson for not supporting efforts to reform property taxes. Larson told the Rivard Report he found that accusation “misinformed.” Fails said he would support the governor’s agenda, particularly noting his support for his plan to address property tax reform at the next legislative session.

Land Commissioner

Four republican candidates are running in the primary for Commissioner of the General Land Office, including incumbent George P. Bush and former Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson. Two Democratic candidates are running to represent the party in the race.

Bush, as leader of the department, oversees the restoration of the Alamo. Patterson, who uses an image of the Alamo in his logo, is attempting to retake his former position because he does not believe the $300 million project is being handled properly.

Miguel Suazo, a lawyer and one of the Democratic candidates, says Bush failed to protect the Alamo and properly assist recovery efforts in Houston after Hurricane Harvey. Tex Morgan, a computer engineer and democratic candidate, also believes recovery efforts have not been handled properly, and adds that there should be better transparency in the land commissioner’s office.

Commissioner of Agriculture

Two Republicans are challenging incumbent Texas Commissioner of Agriculture Sid Miller, who said during a recent debate that he worked over his first term in the seat to restore order in the office, according to the Texas Tribune. Trey Blocker, a former lobbyist, said “I want to restore honesty, integrity and fiscal responsibility to the Department of Agriculture.”

Bexar County District Attorney

Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood faces one Democratic primary opponent, Joe Gonzales. The two have a history of conflict as LaHood allegedly threatened to destroy Gonzales’ law practice. The lawsuit that Gonzales filed ended in a mistrial. Tylden Shaeffer, local defense attorney and former Bexar County prosecutor, is the lone Republican candidate in the race.

Bexar County Commissioner (Pct. 2)

Bexar County Commissioner Paul Elizondo (Pct. 2) faces two Democratic challengers, Mario Bravo and Queta Rodriguez. Each is competing against Elizondo’s 32 years of experience at the post, and neither have held public office before. Bravo wants to govern with community health in mind, and Rodriguez wants to strive for more economic developments in her precinct.

Ismael Garcia and Theresa Connolly are the two Republican candidates running in the primary for the position.

Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Calvert (Pct. 4) is up for re-election, but faces no challengers.

Voter Turnout

Bexar County had more than 1 million registered voters in 2016, but less than half of those voters cast a ballot in that election cycle, according to the Texas Secretary of State.

A 2018 Texas Civic Health Index found that political participation in the state “remains extremely low.”

One reason for low participation is that voters “are too busy or couldn’t vote because of the time commitments to work,” said Susan Nold, director of the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life and a contributor to the report. She told the Rivard Report on Friday that “early voting in Texas is one way to address that problem of not having time to vote.”

“However early voting is only useful if county election offices are making early voting opportunities accessible and known to voters,” Nold said. “This varies by county.”

Jeffrey Sullivan

Jeffrey Sullivan is a Rivard Report reporter. He graduated from Trinity University with a degree in Political Science.