Feb 27, 2024 - News

Harris County primary races to watch

Illustration of a voting pin surrounded by election form icons

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Early voting is well underway for the March primary in Harris County, and we've got you covered if you haven't yet made it to the polls or are waiting until election day.

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.

By the numbers: More than 100,000 people have cast ballots since early voting kicked off Feb. 20.

  • That includes about 49,000 Democratic ballots and 53,000 Republican ballots.
  • For context, there are more than 2.6 million registered voters in Harris County.

District Attorney

Incumbent Democrat Kim Ogg hopes to retain control over the Harris County District Attorney's Office as Sean Teare, a former employee of hers, mounts a promising challenge.

Why it matters: Ogg has been beefing with local Democrats, who admonished her in December for allegedly targeting political foes within the party.

Zoom in: Teare holds a 38-point lead in a University of Houston poll of likely Democratic primary voters.

U.S. Representative, District 7

Lizzie Fletcher, a Democrat who's represented the district since 2019, is pitted against progressive candidate Pervez Agwan.

Why it matters: The race draws lines in the sand between Democrats on issues like the Israel-Hamas War, health care and accepting donations from oil and gas corporations.

Between the lines: Agwan was accused by a former staffer in a 2021 lawsuit of assault, battery and false imprisonment.

  • The candidate denied the allegations and said they were instead the work of the pro-Israel lobby.
  • The lawsuit is ongoing.

U.S. Representative, District 18

Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee, who lost a bid for Houston mayor to longtime state Sen. John Whitmire in a December runoff election, is up against former City Council member and attorney Amanda Edwards.

  • The race also includes political newcomer Robert Slater.

Why it matters: Edwards could be the first new representative in the district since Jackson Lee was elected in 1995.

Zoom in: Jackson Lee has only a 5-point edge over Edwards, according to a UH poll.

Texas Senate District 15

Six Democratic candidates form a crowded field vying to replace Whitmire, who was originally elected in 1983 and stepped down when he was voted mayor of Houston.

Why it matters: The candidates represent a range of political ideologies and experiences, giving Houston voters the chance to send a fresh face to Austin.

Zoom in: Michelle Anderson Bonton is an entrepreneur with a focus on mitigating voter suppression, according to a Q&A with Community Impact.

  • Alberto "Beto" Cardenas Jr. is an attorney who wants to enshrine abortion rights in the Texas Constitution.
  • Molly Cook is an emergency room nurse and community organizer.
  • Jarvis Johnson is a longtime state representative and former City Council member.
  • Todd Litton is an attorney who wants to challenge the state's conservative leadership.
  • Karthik Soora is a renewable energy developer seeking political reform.

Texas House District 138

Republican Lacey Hull, who voted to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton last year, faces opposition from anti-LGBTQ+ lawyer Jared Woodfill.

Why it matters: The race pits Hull, a conservative Republican with support from Gov. Greg Abbott, against the Paxton-backed Woodfill.

Between the lines: Woodfill in 2017 was accused of defrauding his law office clients, for which he was under criminal investigation — until Ogg personally "put the brakes" on the inquiry in 2021, a recent Houston Chronicle report revealed.

Texas House District 128

Like Hull, Republican incumbent Briscoe Cain is facing a Paxton-backed challenger in Bianca Gracia.

Why it matters: The outcome will indicate how deep Paxton's influence runs over Texas' most active Republicans.

Zoom in: Cain is an anti-abortion conservative who helped the Trump campaign fight the 2020 election results, and Gracia helped organize the Jan. 6 Stop the Steal rally.

What's next: Early voting continues daily from 7am-7pm through Friday. Election day is March 5.

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