Good News For Texas Republicans

By John Celock

A new poll shows Republicans easily on track to win the Texas governorship and keep control of the other statewide offices.

A University of Texas poll released Thursday shows Republican Attorney General Greg Abbot leading Democrat Wendy Davis 44 percent to 32 percent, with 17 percent undecided. The poll is consistent with other polls in the gubernatorial race.

In the first poll since Republican state Sen. Dan Patrick defeated Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the GOP primary for the state’s number two job, the Republican is easily leading Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte 41 percent to 26 percent for the influential post.

In open seat races for two other state constitutional offices, GOP nominees hold double digit leads over their Democratic rivals. Republican Ken Paxon leads Democrat Sam Houston by 13 points in the attorney general’s race and Republican George P. Bush leads Democrat Jim Hogan by 11 points in the race for state land commissioner.

The closest contests came in three other down ballot races, where Republican candidates hold strong single digit leads. Republican Glenn Hager leads Democrat Mike Collier by seven points for the comptroller race, Republican Sid Miller leads Democrat Jim Hogan by eight points for state agriculture commissioner and Republican Ryan Sitton leads Democrat Steve Brown by eight points for railroad commissioner.

Under Texas law, the down ballot offices hold considerable influence and power in state government. The land commissioner controls all coastal issues, land and mineral issues, along with veterans’ affairs. The three members of the state Railroad Commissioner serve as the top oil and gas regulators in the state. The lieutenant governor controls the state Senate, often wielding more power than the state’s traditionally weak governorship.

National Democrats had highly touted Davis as a gubernatorial candidate following her famous filibuster last year to defeat controversial anti-abortion legislation in the Senate. Davis’ campaign has struggled to gain traction though in Republican Texas, and she has struggled with a series of internal issues including staff turnover and questions over information she included in her official biography.