Excitement builds as Fort Bend County March primary battleground races take shape
Excitement is already building among party leaders and candidates in the upcoming March 3 primaries that will lead up to the much-anticipated general election featuring President Donald Trump’s reelection bid. In addition, voters will decide a hotly contested primary race for US Congressional District 22 and several battleground races expected to decide control of the Texas House. The March primaries also features several key nominations in Fort Bend County races including three county commissioners’ races and an open race for Fort Bend County Sheriff.
77彩票网appSince the 2018 election cycle delivered some surprise victories for Fort Bend County Democrats, the level of engagement within both Republicans and Democratic parties has increased significantly, party leaders say.
The most closely watched primary contest is expected to be the race to replace retiring Republican Rep. Pete Olson for US Congressional District 22. The field of candidates recently attracted Pierce Bush from Houston to emerge as the latest member of the Bush family dynasty to enter politics, amidst a crowded field of 15 Republican candidates including Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls, former Brazoria County Judge and Pearland City Councilmember Greg Hill and well-known conservative activist Kathaleen Wall who recently bought a home in CD-22. The Republican primary winner will face one of five Democrats including Democrat Sri Preston Kulkarni who came close to defeating Rep. Pete Olson in 2018 along with Pearland City Councilman Derrick Reed and Nyanza Moore.
Linda Howell, chairwoman of the Fort Bend County GOP, said she’s thrilled with the mix of candidates who filed to run in the March primary.
77彩票网app“I’m excited that the Republican Party has such an amazing list of candidates and these are the most diverse we’ve ever had. Our candidates are so amazing, people are going to want to go vote for them,” Howell said in a recent telephone interview. “I’m just really excited by the level of excellence and qualification and also the diversity.”
Diversity is a hot issue within Fort Bend County as it is now recognized as the most diverse county in Texas and among the most diverse in the country according to the latest Census estimates that show a population that is 35 percent Anglo, 24 percent Hispanic, 21 percent Asian and others, and 20 percent African-American.
“The interesting thing is so many candidates selected the Republican Party to run because our community is so conservative. If you’re a conservative, you’re a Republican and our candidates are proving that true because ours is a conservative community,” Howell said. “By conservative I mean we love our county; we love faith. We love life. We love our law enforcement. We love our medical health and care about what’s happening with our borders. Our issues are conservative issues that affect everyday life and of course, the growth of business. The Republican Party is the only party that leadership is addressing these topics nationally and locally and I just want to encourage our voters to help keep Fort Bend, the wonderful district we are, the beautiful and prosperous faith community we are, and vote Republican.”
For years, the Fort Bend County political landscape was solidly conservative with Republicans rarely losing an election. But, the pollical climate appears to be shifting as reflected by the recent fall from grace experienced by Republican state Rep. Rick Miller, who resigned after he was quoted in a Houston Chronicle article as saying his two primary opponents, former Fort Bend GOP Chairman Jacey Jetton and Houston Fire Department analyst Leonard Chan, joined the race because they are Asians targeting a district with a sizable Asian population. Miller’s comments were considered an embarrassment to party leaders and he resigned within days of the Dec. 3 article after Gov. Greg Abbott withdrew his endorsement followed soon after by Fort Bend County GOP Chair Howell.
Republicans will face fierce competition from Fort Bend County Democrats under the leadership of Fort Bend County Democrfatic Chairperson Cynthia Ginyard, who describes herself as a “change agent”.
77彩票网appAccording to Ginyard, the thirst for political change was awakened for county Democrats during the 2018 election cycle when KP George won election to county judge, defeating 16-year incumbent Bob Hebert in a surprise victory. Other Democrats won key 2018 county races such as Fort Bend County District Attorney Brian Middleton.
“The 2018 election cycle showed people Democrats can win here and that inspired people to become involved,” Ginyard said. “Everybody loves a winner. One incident of success inspires others and since then, everything has increased: the level of engagement, excitement among our members and candidates, donations, volunteers and new people becoming part of the process. It has given us a chance to show people we’re not a members-only type of club. We want people to be involved, people of all faiths and colors. So, I invite people in. I work with our young people. I work with different types of people all across the board. It’s a mindset. They have to be welcomed in.”
77彩票网appIn the upcoming primary election, Democrats have filed candidates in every race.
“For me, failure is not an option. I don’t take any prisoners,” she said, “I don’t worry about what the Republicans are doing, and I stay focused on our goals.”
77彩票网appHere are some highlights from key primary races:
77彩票网appThe race to replace retiring US Congressional District 22 Rep. Pete Olson is one of the most crowded Republican races in the country with 15 candidates vying for the nomination. Here are the names as they will appear on the ballot: Bangar Reddy, Douglas Haggard, Howard Steele, Dan Mathews, Troy Nehls, Pierce Bush, Kathaleen Wall, Matt Hinton, Brandon T. Penko, Diana Miller, Shandon Phan, Greg Hill, Joe Walz, Aaron Hermes and Jon Camarillo. The Democratic candidates are Sri Preston Kulkarni, Carmine Petricco III, Derrick A. Reed, Chris Fernandez and Nyanza Davis Moore.
77彩票网appFor the Democratic nomination for U.S. Representative District 9, incumbent Congressman Al Green is opposed by Melissa Wilson. Vying for the Republican nomination are: Johnny Teague, Jon Menefee and Julian A. Martinez.
U.S. Senator John Cornyn faces four opponents in the Republican primary: Virgil Bierschwale, John Anthony Castro, Dwayne Stovall and Mark Yancey. The Democratic candidates include former U.S. Rep. Chris Bell of Houston, Houston council member Amanda Edwards, former Air Force helicopter pilot MJ Hegar of Round Rock, state Sen. Royce West of Dallas, activist Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez of Austin, Adrian Ocegueda, Annie “Mama” Garcia, Michael Cooper, D.R. Hunter, Jack Daniel Foster Jr., Victor Hugo Harris and Sema Hernandez. The favored Democratic candidate is MJ Hegar who recently secured an endorsement from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Incumbent District 13 State Senator Borris L. Miles faces two opponents for the Democratic nomination: Melissa Morris and Richard R. Andrews. The Republican candidates include William J. Booher and Milinda Morris.
77彩票网appRepublican State Senator for District 18 Lois W. Kolkhorst is running unopposed for her party’s nomination and will face the lone Democrat candidate in the November election: Michael Antalan.
The race to replace District 26 State Rep. Rick Miller includes three Republicans: former County GOP chair Jacey Jetton, Leonard Chen and Matt Morgan. The winner will face one of four Democrats: consultant Rish Oberoi, State Board of Education member Lawrence Allen, community activist L. Sarah DeMerchant and physician Suleman Lalani.
Democrat incumbent District 27 State Rep. Ron Reynolds is opposed by Byron Ross in the primaries and will face one of two Republican candidates in the November election: Tom Virippan and Manish Seth.
77彩票网appIncumbent Republican District 85 State Rep. Phil Stephenson faces two primary opponents: Robert Boettcher and Abolaji Tijani Ayobami. The winner will face the lone Democratic candidate in the November election: Joey Cardenas III.
Texas House District 28
House District 28 is considered a key battleground race for both Democrats and Republicans and covers a portion of Fort Bend County and includes the Katy, Cinco Ranch, Fulshear, Simonton and portions of Sugar Land and Houston. Incumbent Republican John Zerwas has held the seat since 2007 and announced his retirement last summer. Vying to replace him in the Jan. 28 runoff are Republicans Gary Gates and Schell Hammel, a Vape business owner who was previously running in the crowded Republican primary for Texas’ Congressional District 22. Democrat Elizabeth Markowitz will face one of the two Republicans in the November 2020 general election. Early voting begins January 21 and Election Day is January 28.
Fort Bend County Sheriff
A long list of candidates filed to replace incumbent Republican Troy Nehls, who is running as a Republican Congressional District 22 candidate, and includes Nehls’ twin brother, Trever J. Nehls, who currently serves as Fort Bend County Precinct 4 Constable. Also vying for the Republican nomination are Houston Police officer Siddiqi Muzasffar and John Minchew, a former law enforcement officer and security company business owner. The Democratic primary candidates feature retired Houston Police officer and former president of the African American Police Officers’ League, Eric Fagan, U.S. Army veteran and former commander of criminal investigations for the Missouri City Police Dept. Geneane Hughes and U.S. Navy veteran Holland Jones, a former captain for the office of Harris County Precinct 7 Constable, who is also a licensed attorney currently working as an adjunct professor for Texas Southern University.
77彩票网appThe Democratic candidates for Fort Bend County Attorney are Sonia Rash, David Hunter and Bridgette Smith-Lawson. The winner will face Republican Steve Rogers in the November election.
Republican incumbent for Fort Bend County Commissioner Precinct 1 Vincent Morales is running opposed for his party’s nomination and will face one of four Democratic primary candidates in November: Founder and Executive Director of No Sister Left Behind Inc. and Missouri City NAACP president Lynette Reddix, Richmond City Commissioner and former Lamar CISD trustee Jesse Torres, pastor, adjunct professor, licensed realtor and business owner Albert Tibbs and community activist Jennifer Cantu.
Republican incumbent for Fort Bend County Commissioner Precinct 3 W.A. Andy Meyers faces two primary opponents: Wendy Duncan, Willow Fork Drainage District board member, and Glenn “Harry” Gustafson. The winner will face the lone Democratic candidate, Air Force Veteran and community activist Hope Martin, in the November 2020 election.
Incumbent Republican candidate for Fort Bend County Constable Precinct 1 Mike Beard is running unopposed for his party’s nomination and will face one of two Democratic primary candidates in November: Harris County Sheriff’s Office supervising officer Samuel Hayes Jr. and Marine Corp Veteran and senior investigator for the Harris County Attorney’s Office Rafael Pruneda.
In the race for Fort Bend County Constable Precinct 2, Democratic incumbent Daryl Smith faces four primary challengers: Tonja Beard, Harris County Constable’s Office Precinct 7 deputy Floyd Davis, Gilberto Perez and Fort Bend County Constable Deputy Gary Majors, who served as the Fort Bend County Precinct 2 Constable from 2016 to 2018 after he was appointed by the Fort Bend County Commissioner’s Court after the death of Ruben Davis. Majors ran unsuccessfully for re-election in 2018 against the now-incumbent Daryl Smith. No Republican candidates filed in the race.
In the race for Fort Bend County constable Precinct 3, the Republican candidates are Marine Corp Veteran Chad Norvell who currently oversees patrol, criminal investigations, media relations and the social media program for the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office, Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jesse Zamaripa and retired law enforcement officer Robert Becker formerly with the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office and Harris County Constable’s Office, Precinct 1. The winner will face one of two Democratic candidates: Mo Nehad who immigrated to the U.S. from Kuwait and works as a law enforcement officer with the University of Texas System Police in Houston and Marine Corp Veteran Patrick Quincy who works for the Harris County Constable’s Office Precinct 5 as a supervisor assigned to the Harris County Toll Road Authority Incident Management Division. Incumbent Fort Bend County Precinct 3 Constable Wayne Thompson is not seeking re-election.
77彩票网appIncumbent candidate for Fort Bend County Constable Precinct 4 Trevor Nehls is running for the Republican nomination for Fort Bend County Sheriff, leaving the position open for two Republican primary candidates: Mike Nguyen and John G. Hermann, current Chief Deputy of the Fort Bend Precinct 4 Constable’s Office. The two Democratic primary candidates are Fort Bend County Precinct 4 Deputy Constable Joseph “Joe” Villareal and Harris County Constables Office Precinct 4 Deputy Nabil Shike.
The Republican primary candidates for Fort Bend County tax assessor-collector are Phillip Andrews, J.J. Clemence, Jaison Joseph and James Pressler. The winner will face one of two Democratic primary candidates: Neeta Sane and Carmen Turner.