Candidates look to next elections after drop in primary turnout

AUSTIN -- Personally working the phones on election night, state Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) won her party's primary with 79 percent of the Democratic vote for governor.

Just under 21 percent of the March 4 Democratic gubernatorial primary vote went to largely unknown candidate Reynaldo Madrigal, leading to questions the next day over Davis' campaign's strength -- in particular among South Texas Hispanic voters.

I'm very excited about the opportunities that we have, not just in the valley but all over this state, in terms of having a conversation with voters and helping them to see the very real contrast that Greg Abbott and I have to offer them in November, Davis told media following an education discussion in Austin March 5. Of course, that's going to be our responsibility going forward.

Republican nominee Greg Abbott, who won his primary with more than 91 percent of the vote, sounded equally optimistic the day after the election.

The Hispanic community agrees with and embraces the policies of the Republican party, Abbott said in a March 5 interview with WFAA, KVUE's sister station in Dallas/Fort Worth.

Democrats have placed a priority on increasing voter turnout in order to make Davis competitive in November. While problematic weather conditions across the state likely played a part limiting turnout on election day, both parties saw a decrease in overall voter turnout for the 2014 primaries.

Only 9.6 percent of registered voters participated in the March 4 GOP primary, compared with 3.7 percent who participated in the Democratic primary. The 2010 GOP primary between U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Gov. Rick Perry drew 11.4 percent of registered voters, while the Democratic contest between Houston Mayor Bill White and businessman Farouk Shami drew 5.2 percent of registered voters.

Meanwhile heading into a runoff 14 percentage points behind state Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston), Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's reelection will hinge on trying to win the support of those who voted for his other two opponents. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson combined for roughly 30 percent of the vote. Neither Staples nor Patterson has yet to endorse a candidate in the runoff.

So I'm going to be sharing my story of my leadership in creating the best business climate in the country, Dewhurst told supporters election night.

Yet Patrick told KVUE's Houston sister station, KHOU, that his own election as the state's newest lieutenant governor is all but guaranteed.

Seventy-two percent of the people in total voted against the incumbent, said Patrick. So 72 percent of the people were making up their minds. They'd already made a decision they wanted a new leader in a lieutenant governor, but they were choosing between the other three opponents.

The winner of the May 27 runoff between Dewhurst and Patrick will face state Sen.Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio)in November. Although unopposed in the Democratic primary, Van de Putte rallied supporters election night and accused her GOPopponents of using hurtful language to describe border issues.

It looks like we're going to get several more months of the same rhetoric, of the same type of language to attract the very small percentage of voters who will go back out in a Republican primary, Van de Putte told media.


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