Primary Tuesday: Senators in Alabama, Maine and Texas Draw Opponents; House Primaries and Runoffs

July 14, 2020

This week, there are congressional primaries in Maine and primary runoff elections in Alabama and Texas.  The largest share of attention is expected to fall on the U.S. Senate races; we've grouped those together in their own section below. In each case, the winner will challenge an incumbent in November. All three races - to varying degrees - are on the competitive radar in November.

Most of the polls across the three states close at 8:00 PM ET; check back for live results after that time.

Polls Close (Eastern Time)

Your individual polling place may have different hours. Do not rely on this schedule to determine when to vote. 

8:00 PM Alabama*, Maine, Texas (CT)
9:00 PM Texas (MT)

* A very small portion of the state along the Georgia border observes Eastern Time. Those polls close at 7:00 ET.


Results 

U.S. Senate Maine U.S. House Runoffs (AL & TX)

 

U.S. Senate

Alabama (Runoff): One of Donald Trump's earliest supporters, Former Sen. Jeff Sessions would like his old job back. Unfortunately for Sessions, the president is no longer a fan. As Attorney General, he recused himself from Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, earning the president's enmity. Sessions would be forced out in late 2018. 

Trump is actively supporting former Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville.  The runoff was necessitated when no candidate received 50% of the vote in the March 3 primary. Tuberville finished first with 33%, Sessions was about two points behind.

Tuberville has led most runoff polling since the primary, although there's been only one recent survey released. He was up by 16 points in that one. The winner will meet Democratic Sen. Doug Jones in November, in what represents the best GOP pick-up opportunity on this year's Senate map.  Jones has trailed both men in polling for the general election, which has a consensus rating of Leans Republican. 

Maine:  This is expected to be the least competitive of Tuesday's Senate primaries, but will lead into one of this fall's most fiercely contested general election races. Sara Gideon, Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, is expected to win the nomination.  Gideon has had a small lead in limited polling against incumbent Republican Susan Collins, who will be seeking her 5th term. Collins, a moderate in the party, has seen her approval ratings drop significantly. The November election is seen as a Toss-up.

Texas (Runoff):   Twelve Democrats competed in the March primary to challenge incumbent GOP Sen. John Cornyn. The party's voters did not coalesce behind anyone - five candidates received over 10% of the vote, and only one received 20%. Retired Air Force pilot MJ Hegar finished first with 22%, while state Sen. Royce West came in second with just under 15%. A poll released Sunday gave Hegar a 35-22 lead in the runoff. That leaves a lot of undecided voters still deciding between the two candidates.

Cornyn will start as the favorite to win a 4th term; the consensus rating is Likely Republican. Cornyn has led in all general election polls. Neither of the Democratic candidates has strong statewide recognition (which might explain the 43% undecided in the aforementioned poll).  In addition, no Democrat has won a statewide office here since 1994. Countering that is polling that shows a highly competitive race at the top of the ticket, and an increasingly high correlation between the results of presidential and Senate elections.

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Maine

House:  Democrat Jared Golden ousted incumbent Republican Bruce Poliquin in 2018, winning by one point. Golden became the first person to win a congressional seat in a ranked-choice voting runoff.   Three Republicans are vying for the nomination.  In a recent poll, former state Rep. Dale Crafts led with 37%. Adrienne Bennett, press secretary for former Gov. Paul LePage had 25% and former State Sen. Eric Brakey had 19%. Brakey was the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate in 2018, losing to incumbent independent Angus King. 

Notably, none of those numbers is over 50%. If that ends up being the case in the actual vote, ranked-choice voting will be used to decide the party's nominee.   The second choice of voters for the third place candidate will be allocated to the candidates that finished 1-2. That will push one of them over 50%, making him or her the nominee.

Looking ahead to November, the GOP will be making an effort to retake this district; whether that happens may ultimately depend on how Donald Trump does here. Trump won this district by over 10% in 2016, becoming the first Republican to win an electoral vote in Maine since 1988. 

All Maine Results >>

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Other U.S. House Runoffs (Alabama and Texas)

Alabama: Incumbent Republicans Bradley Byrne (AL-1) and Martha Roby (AL-2) did not seek reelection. Byrne ran for U.S. Senate, but finished third, missing that runoff. There are GOP runoffs in both of these districts. The winners will be heavily favored in November. There's also a Democratic runoff in District 1.

Texas:  15 U.S. House runoffs were necessitated when no candidate received 50% during the March 3 primaries.1 1 A 16th runoff was avoided when Elisa Cardnell dropped out of the Democratic primary in District 2, endorsing Sima Ladjevardian, who had finished first with almost 48% of the vote.

Some of the more interesting contests are discussed below.

District 10:  This district stretches west-northwest from suburban Houston to the Austin area. Eight-term incumbent Republican Michael McCaul faced his tightest reelection in 2018, winning by about 4.5% over Democrat Mike Siegel, an attorney. Siegel is back for another try, but first must win the runoff with physician Pritesh Gandhi. Most forecasters see this as a Leans Republican race in November.

District 13: This safe Republican district became open when 13-term incumbent Mac Thornberry opted to retire.  The GOP runoff is notable because it includes an endorsement by the president of Ronny Jackson, former White House physician. Trump nominated him to be Secretary of the Veterans Administration in February, 2018. He withdrew in April of that year. Jackson finished second - in a field of 15 - to lobbyist John Winegarner in the March primary. Winegarner had 39% of the vote, Jackson 20%.  Trump continues to support Jackson, including holding a virtual town hall meeting with him on the eve of the runoff. 

District 17: The seat is open with the retirement of Republican Bill Flores. The runoff includes former Rep. Pete Sessions, who served 11 terms in the House, most of which was in the Dallas-area 32nd district. Sessions was defeated by Democrat Colin Allred in 2018. He will try to return to Congress in this central Texas district that is much safer GOP territory.  Sessions received about 32% of the vote in the March primary; businesswoman Renee Swann finished second with 19%.

District 22:  Although Republican Pete Olson won a 6th term in 2018, it was a narrow win in this rapidly diversifying Houston-area district. Olson subsequently decided not to run for reelection. The Democratic nominee in 2018, Sri Preston Kulkami is back for another try.

15 competed for the Republican nomination in March. Fort Bend County sheriff Troy Nehls finished first with about 40% of the vote. Technology consultant Kathaleen Wall was second with about 19%. She edged out Pierce Bush, grandson of President George H.W. Bush, who finished third with 15%. 

Absent an incumbent, many analysts see a closely-contested general election.

District 23:  In 2018, incumbent Republican Will Hurd narrowly (0.5%) defeated Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones to win a 3rd term representing this large district in the southwestern part of the state. Ortiz Jones won renomination and Hurd is retiring. The GOP primary runoff features Navy veteran Tony Gonzales and Air Force veteran Paul Reyes.  Gonzales came in first in the March primary with 28%, and has the support of President Trump. Reyes, with 23% in the primary, was recently endorsed by Sen. Ted Cruz. The dueling endorsements have added some drama to this runoff. 

The general election consensus is that the district has a better than even chance to flip, with an overall Leans Democratic rating.

District 24: Eight-term Republican Kenny Marchant is retiring from this suburban district between Dallas and Forth Worth. Marchant's margin of victory in 2018 fell to 3% from 17% in 2016 and 33% in 2014. Absent an incumbent, the general election is seen as a Toss-up.  The Republican nominee is Beth Van Duyne, former mayor of Irving.

Tuesday's Democratic runoff features retired Air Force colonel Kim Olson and Candace Valenzuela, a local school board member. In the March primary, Olson finished first with 41% followed by Valenzuela with 30%.

District 31:  In 2018, Republican John Carter won a ninth term in this Austin area district. He defeated MJ Hegar, who is in Tuesday's Democratic U.S. Senate runoff.  Hegar held Carter to a three point win. That may have been a bit of a shock to the incumbent: it was the first time Carter had won an election with a margin under 20 points. 

The Democratic primary runoff is between Christine Eady Mann, a physician and Donna Imam, an engineer.  While Hegar made things close last time, that may not translate into further improvement for Democrats here in 2020. Most analysts see the well-funded Carter as the favorite in November.

All Alabama & Texas Runoff Results >>

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