Election day for runoffs Tuesday

Published on Saturday, 24 May 2014 23:15 - Written by Adam Russell arussell@tylerpaper.com

Primary runoff Election Day is Tuesday. Polls open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

There are seven statewide and local runoffs for Democrats and Republicans to settle before the November general election ballots are set.

Expectations are the runoff election schedule will translate into abysmal statewide turnouts. The May 27 primary runoffs being so close to the May 10 city and school elections has confused many voters, Smith County Election Administrator Karen Nelson said. The Memorial Day weekend won’t help turnout numbers because people will be out of town, she added.

“Early voting has been slow but that’s what we expected,” she said.

Voter turnouts are notoriously low for runoffs. The high-profile July runoff between Ted Cruz and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for U.S. Senate drew 8.5 percent of registered Texas voters in 2012.

The lone local race pits two Republican attorneys vying to replace a retiring judge in the County Court at Law, which handles criminal and civil cases.

Because there is no Democrat running in the general election, attorney Jason Ellis, 31, or 63-year-old attorney and mediator Mike Patterson would replace retiring County Court at Law Judge Thomas Dunn in January.

Patterson served as a prosecutor in Dallas and Smith counties before going into private practice. He has tried more than 200 criminal and civil jury trials, including 100 as lead counsel. Patterson has spent the past 17 years mediating more than 2,000 legal cases.

Ellis worked misdemeanor cases, including DWIs and domestic abuse, in the Smith County district attorney’s office for 18 months. He has run a law practice since.

The runoff for lieutenant governor between Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and state Sen. Dan Patrick, of Houston, tops the statewide GOP ballot.

Patrick commented Thursday about voter confusion between recent city and school district elections and the runoff.

“They came up to me and said ‘I didn’t see your name on the ballot,’ and after I explained that was a municipal election they said, ‘You mean there’s another election?’ he said. “So I expect turnout to be low.”

The race to replace Attorney General Greg Abbott, who won the Republican nomination for governor, pits two state representatives who are attorneys by trade and want to be the state’s top lawyer - Dan Branch and Ken Paxton.

The race for agriculture commissioner features two former state representatives. Former District 7 representative Tommy Merritt, of Longview, faces Sid Miller, of Stephenville.

Another area legislator made a GOP primary runoff for railroad commissioner. Wayne Christian, of Center, faces Ryan Sitton for a place on the regulatory board.

Democrats will choose their nominee to face U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in the November election. The race features Dallas dentist David M. Alameel and candidate Kesha Rogers.

Comedian, writer and political activist Richard “Kinky” Friedman faces Cleburne farmer Jim Hogan for the Democratic Agriculture Commissioner nomination.

The winners of the primary runoffs will face opponents in respective Nov. 4 general elections.