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Incumbents losing statehouse primaries across the US at quicker pace than in 2010, study finds -- and Texas has contributed to the trend
Friday, Jul 27, 2012, 02:57PM CST
By Curt Olson

A new study reveals that a higher number of incumbents are losing primaries in state legislative races throughout the United States -- and Texas has contributed to the trend.

Seven incumbent Republican members of the Texas House of Representatives lost primaries, including three committee chairmen. The number may rise, with four more House races and one Senate seat in play for the runoff election on Tuesday.

The rate of incumbent losses this year, 14.8 percent, has outpaced the rate in 2010, 8.38 percent, Ballotpedia found in a recent review of the matchups.

In 2012, 76 of 513 incumbents lost in their primaries. In 2010, 95 of the 1,133 incumbents lost in that round.

In Texas, the upsets have been attributed to redistricting and Tea Party influence.

"The Tea Party has done a better job here of organizing and turning its voters out, and that's the story," Jim Riddlesperger, a political science professor at Texas Christian University, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram after the primary.

The defeat of three lieutenants of House Speaker Joe Straus in the May primary underscores the volatility for incumbents in certain Texas House races.

These lawmakers served as House committee chairmen.

Throw in a Texas Senate race, and political junkies have some excitement.

Here are the House primaries, all Republican, where incumbents lost:

  • In District 6, Matt Schaefer defeated long-time incumbent Leo Berman of Tyler, 57.7 percent to 42.3 percent.
  • In District 9, Christopher “Chris” Paddie defeated incumbent Wayne Christian of Center, 52.2 percent to 47.8 percent.
  • In District 15, Steve Toth defeated long-time incumbent Rob Eissler of The Woodlands, 56.5 percent to 43.5 percent. Eissler served as House Public Education Committee chairman for House Speaker Joe Straus.
  • In District 19, freshman incumbent James White of Woodville defeated long-time incumbent Mike “Tuffy” Hamilton of Lumberton, 54.5 percent to 45.5 percent. Hamilton served as Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee chairman for Straus. Hamilton and White were paired in redistricting.
  • In District 57, Trent Ashby defeated incumbent Marva Beck of Centerville, 58.1 percent to 41.9 pecent.
  • In District 93, Matt Krause defeated incumbent Barbara Nash of Arlington, 50.7 percent to 37.6 percent.
  • In District 98, Giovanni Capriglione defeated long-time incumbent Vicki Truitt of Keller, 55.6 percent to 44.4 percent. Truitt served as chairman of the Pensions, Investments and Financial Services Committee for Straus.

Four GOP House incumbents are headed to a runoff election on Tuesday.

  • In District 11, incumbent Chuck Hopson of Jacksonville faces a test from Travis Clardy, with Hopson squeaking out a plurality in the May primary 47.2 percent to 46.3 percent. Hopson serves as General Investigating & Ethics Committee chairman for Straus.
  • In District 43, incumbent J.M. Lozano of Kingsville faces the challenge of Bill Wilson, with Lozano edging Wilson 44.2 percent to 43.8 percent in the May primary.
  • In District 59, incumbent Sid Miller of Stephenville faces J.D. Sheffield, where Miller surpassed Sheffield 42.5 percent to 41.5 percent in the May primary. Miller serves as Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee chairman for Straus.
  • In District 88, incumbent Jim Landtroop of Plainview faces Ken King where Landtroop got the edge in the May primary 34.4 percent to 30.2 percent.

The Texas state Senate also has Republican primary runoff. Long-time Sen. Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio faces a stiff challenge from Donna Campbell. Wentworth had the edge in the May primary 35.8 percent to 33.7 percent.

Contact Curt Olson at or 512-557-3800. Follow him on Twitter @olson_curt.

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Editor’s Note: Texas Watchdog Editor Trent Seibert is on the board of directors for Ballotpedia, the group conducting the study.

Andy Hogue
Tuesday, 07/31/2012 - 10:06AM

Good job, Curt!

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