Day 5: The Key Races

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) ends its “Good Voter Health” series today with an important strategic article about high profile contested races in Texas. As we mentioned in Day 2 of our series, TRTA does not endorse candidates for political office. It is vital, however, that our members research the candidates in their area and ask them tough questions about the Teacher Retirement System (TRS), the defined benefit plan, and the TRS-Care health insurance program.

To locate the candidates running for office in your area, we recommend the Texas Tribune Elections Bracket located here: http://www.texastribune.org/2014/elections/brackets/.

There are several key races that TRTA is following closely this primary season. Most legislative elections are decided during the primaries and not during the November general election. For this reason, we encourage all of our members to VOTE early in February (18-28) or on March 4.

If you live in an area where some of these key races are taking place, it is very important that you get in touch with the candidates and find out their answers to the following questions, and it is absolutely VITAL that you VOTE in the primaries:

  • Do you support a defined benefit plan for all current and future TRS retirees?
  • Do you support providing reasonable, affordable healthcare for TRS retirees?
  • What will you do as my legislator to ensure that the TRS pension fund and TRS–Care health insurance program are preserved and improved?

As we mentioned in yesterday’s series (Day 4), TRTA is often asked by its members: Who should I vote for? Although TRTA does not endorse candidates for political office, we strongly encourage our members to talk to each other and ask the following: Who are you voting for and why?

Your fellow retirees may be your best resource in helping you determine which candidate may be more favorable to issues impacting the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS). Now is the time to have these important conversations with each other and to learn more about the candidates! TALK TO EACH OTHER! Share information!

Whether or not we endorse candidates, we MUST be involved in the political process. Our organization’s success depends upon our involvement! Our members’ lifetime of educating others did not end in the classroom, and continues as we educate candidates about the TRS pension fund and TRS-Care health insurance program.

Key Contested Races

Please note that we have first listed the incumbent in each district and the same party candidate(s) that the incumbent faces in the primary election (this is the contested race). In fairness, we have also listed candidates of other parties that are running for the same seat whether or not they face a challenger. During the general election in November, the candidate who wins the contested race and the other party candidate(s) will face each other.

We have included a link to a map for each district. If you are not sure if you reside in the district listed, review the map or use the Texas Legislature website (http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/Home.aspx) to determine your district.

High Profile Contested House Races
Texas House District 8 (map: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/fyiwebdocs/PDF/house/dist8/m1.pdf)
Incumbent Byron Cook (R) is facing two Republican challengers in the primary, Charles E. Morgan and Bobby Vickery. (Libertarian John Wilford is also running for this seat).

Texas House District 12 (map: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/fyiwebdocs/PDF/house/dist12/m1.pdf)
Incumbent Kyle Kacal (R) is facing Republican challenger Timothy Delasandro in the primary.

Texas House District 18 (map: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/fyiwebdocs/PDF/house/dist18/m1.pdf)
Incumbent John Otto (R) is facing Republican challenger Terry Holland in the primary.

Texas House District 55 (map: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/fyiwebdocs/PDF/house/dist55/m1.pdf)
Incumbent Ralph Sheffield (R) is facing Republican challenger Molly S. White in the primary.

Texas House District 59 (map: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/fyiwebdocs/PDF/house/dist59/m1.pdf)
Incumbent J.D. Sheffield (R) is facing Republican challengers Danny Pelton and Howard Ray in the primary.

Texas House District 60 (map: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/fyiwebdocs/PDF/house/dist60/m1.pdf)
Incumbent Jim Keffer (R) is facing Republican challenger Cullen Crisp in the primary.

Texas House District 71 (map: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/fyiwebdocs/PDF/house/dist71/m1.pdf)
Incumbent Susan King (R) is facing Republican challenger Isaac M. Castro in the primary.

Texas House District 72 (map: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/fyiwebdocs/PDF/house/dist72/m1.pdf)
Incumbent Drew Darby (R) is facing Republican challenger Shannon Thomasen in the primary.

Texas House District 79 (map: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/fyiwebdocs/PDF/house/dist79/m1.pdf)
Incumbent Joe Pickett (D) is facing Democratic challenger Chuck Peartree in the primary. (Libertarian Stephen Shaw is also running for this seat).

Texas House District 92 (map: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/fyiwebdocs/PDF/house/dist92/m1.pdf)
Incumbent Jonathan Stickland (R) is facing Republican challenger Andy Cargile in the primary. (Libertarian Tina Penney is also running for this seat).

Texas House District 94 (map: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/fyiwebdocs/PDF/house/dist94/m1.pdf)
Incumbent Diane Patrick (R) is facing Republican challenger Tony Tinderholt in the primary. (Democrat Cole Ballweg and Libertarian Robert Harris are also running for this seat).

Texas House District 105 (map: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/fyiwebdocs/PDF/house/dist105/m1.pdf)
Incumbent Linda Harper-Brown (R) is facing Republican challenger Rodney Anderson in the primary. Three Democratic candidates are also running for this seat and face each other in the primary: Terry Meza, Bernice Montgomery and Susan Motley. (Libertarian W. Carl Spiller is also running for this seat).

Texas House District 115 (map: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/fyiwebdocs/PDF/house/dist115/m1.pdf)
Incumbent Bennett Ratliff (R) is facing Republican challenger Matt Rinaldi in the primary. (Democrat Paul Stafford and Libertarian Kim Kelley are also running for this seat).

Texas House District 121 (map: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/fyiwebdocs/PDF/house/dist121/m1.pdf)
Incumbent Joe Straus (R) is facing Republican challenger Matt Beebe in the primary. (Libertarian Jeff Caruthers is also running for this seat).

Texas House District 131 (map: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/fyiwebdocs/PDF/house/dist131/m1.pdf)
Incumbent Alma Allen (D) is facing Democratic challenger Azuwuike Okorafor in the primary.

Texas House District 134 (map: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/fyiwebdocs/PDF/house/dist134/m1.pdf)
Incumbent Sarah Davis (R) is facing Republican challenger Bonnie Parker in the primary. (Democrat Alison Ruff is also running for this seat).

High Profile Contested Senate Races
Texas Senate District 2 (map: http://www.senate.state.tx.us/Icons/Dist_Maps/Dist2_Map.pdf)
Incumbent Robert Deuell (R) is facing Republican challengers Bob Hall and Mark Thompson in the primary. (Libertarian Don Bates is also running for this seat).

Texas Senate District 15 (map: http://www.senate.state.tx.us/Icons/Dist_Maps/Dist15_Map.pdf)
Incumbent John Whitmire (D) is facing Democratic challenger Damian LaCrox in the primary. (Republican Ron Hale and Libertarian Gilberto Velasquez, Jr. are also running for this seat).

Texas Senate District 16 (map: http://www.senate.state.tx.us/Icons/Dist_Maps/Dist16_Map.pdf)
Incumbent John Carona (R) is facing Republican challenger Donald Huffines in the primary. (Libertarian Mike Dooling is also running for this seat).

Texas Senate District 31 (map: http://www.senate.state.tx.us/Icons/Dist_Maps/Dist31_Map.pdf)
Incumbent Kel Seliger (R) is facing Republican challenger Mike Canon in the primary. (Libertarian Steven Gibson is also running for this seat).

Voting Records

Many of our members are interested in learning more about the voting records of incumbents. This information is available online. The bill most closely followed by TRTA members in 2013 was Senate Bill 1458, the TRS Actuarial Soundness Bill. To review the record votes on this bill, please visit the Texas Legislature website (http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/). The budget bill, SB 1, is also a good record vote to review to determine which legislators voted to pass the state budget, which included the appropriations necessary to achieve actuarial soundness for TRS.

If you have any questions about these high profile races, please contact TRTA at info@trta.org or 1.800.880.1650. Remember, you can view ALL races for the Texas Senate and House online using the Texas Tribune Elections bracket found here: http://www.texastribune.org/2014/elections/brackets.

Tell Everyone You Know!

Please help us get the word out about the races listed above if you live in an area with a high profile election, and tell your fellow retirees, family members and friends to get out and VOTE February 18-28 or on March 4! Usually, if a candidate does not win the “early vote,” they don’t win the overall vote in the primary.

We hope we have expressed the significance of voting in the primaries over the past several days. Please keep this in mind: this is NOT a marathon, it’s a sprint! The starting gun has sounded. We must act NOW. We have only until March 4 to make sure that we protect the interests of our members in the Texas Legislature.

We hope you have enjoyed and benefitted from our “Good Voter Health” series and are prepared to VOTE during the primary election! Your vote in the 2014 primary election is VITAL! Next week, we will review races that have open seats, meaning a new Senator or Representative WILL serve in that district beginning in 2015.

Thank you for being a member of TRTA! If you are not a member and are interested in joining, please contact our Membership Department at 1.800.880.1650.