Feb 20, 2024 - News

What's on the primary election ballot in the Austin area

Illustration of a pencil filling in a ballot with the checkbox in the shape of the state of Texas.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

With early voting kicking off, now's your chance to help shape policy, from the Travis County district attorney's office to the Texas Capitol.

Why it matters: Most districts are drawn to favor one party and many counties tip heavily Democratic or Republican, making the primaries the de facto definitive election.

What we expect: Very low turnout.

  • Yes, it's a presidential election year, but there's little doubt about who will be the nominees at the very top of the ballot.

Races we're watching: The Travis County district attorney Democratic primary, pitting incumbent José Garza against attorney Jeremy Sylestine.

The U.S. Senate Democratic primary, which includes at least eight candidates, chief among them U.S. Rep. Colin Allred of Dallas and state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who represents parts of San Antonio.

  • The winner will face U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who narrowly defeated well-funded, high-profile Democrat Beto O'Rourke in 2018 — and appears well-situated for re-election.

In the race for State Board of Education District 10, which takes in most of Williamson County and a large swath of the Hill Country, Republican Tom Maynard faces a challenge from Pflugerville ISD staff member D.C. Caldwell. Caldwell is also running in the Democratic primary against former teacher Raquel Saenz Ortiz.

Republican state Rep. Ellen Troxclair, a former Austin City Council member who now represents a district that includes Blanco, Burnet and Gillespie counties — and a sliver of Travis — faces two other candidates, including Kyle Biedermann, a former state representative from Fredericksburg who had proposed a referendum on Texas secession.

  • The candidates have emphasized border security.

In the 353rd Travis Civil District Court, incumbent Madeleine Connor, a judge once deemed a "vexatious litigant," faces two opponents in the Democratic primary: immigration and family law attorney Susana Castillo and Sherine Thomas, a former executive Travis County attorney.

And in Williamson County, Republican incumbent Precinct 3 Commissioner and accountant Valerie Covey faces law enforcement trainer Mitch Slaymaker.

The bottom line: Low turnout means your vote counts more than ever.

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