Today is the first day of early voting in the March 1 primary. It’s your opportunity to help build up our democracy. This year, we invited more than 150 candidates to interview in more than 40 races. We invite you to review all of our recommendations at dallasnews.com/opinion/we-recommend.
We also invite you to review our Voter Guide, where you can browse the responses of 348 candidates in 122 races. Go to voterguide.dallasnews.com or follow the link below.
Governor, Democrat: Beto O’Rourke
In 2018, this page recommended O’Rourke for U.S. Senate over incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz because we saw O’Rourke giving voice to the national exhaustion about political division and party-first politics that our junior senator has embodied almost since his arrival in politics. In the years since, it has become harder to know now which O’Rourke will show up: the optimistic moderate or the fiery progressive. There are plenty of areas where O’Rourke, 49, can make inroads if he can convince voters that he, rather than his likely general election opponent, Gov. Greg Abbott, can govern from the broad middle that many of the state’s voters, and especially voters in the increasingly diverse suburbs of our major cities, want to inhabit. O’Rourke’s challengers include Joy Diaz, Rich Wakeland and Michael Cooper. Each has a campaign presence but has not achieved the reach to compete strongly against O’Rourke. A fifth candidate, Inocencio “Inno” Barrientez, does not appear to have a significant campaign presence.
Governor, Republican: Greg Abbott
There is little danger that Gov. Greg Abbott will not be Republican voters’ choice in the March 1 primary. Looking at the slate of gubernatorial challengers aligned against him who have decided Abbott is not conservative enough, we have to agree with voters who support the incumbent that they will be making the right choice. Abbott has been in charge during a time when businesses can’t seem to get here fast enough, leaving behind states where high taxes, broken pensions, public employee unions and ribbons of red tape have made Texas look like the place to be. But Abbott, 64, has not used any of this capital, political or otherwise, to try to lead his own party away from indulging its most extreme elements. That’s regrettable, as he is one of the few figures in the state who could take steps to lower the temperature and pull Texans together. Also running are Paul Belew, Danny Harrison, Kandy Kaye Horn, Rick Perry (who is not the former governor of the same name), and Chad Prather.
Lieutenant Governor, Democrat: Mike Collier
Since his failed campaign in 2018, Collier, a 60-year-old accountant, has worked on growing his name recognition across the state. He believes that his policy ideas speak to both Democrats and Republicans. For example, on school funding, Collier said he wants to close loopholes that allow big companies to underpay their share of property taxes while homeowners see their tax bills grow. Also running are state Rep. Michelle Beckley and former Texas Democratic Party vice chair Carla Brailey.
While we would prefer that Patrick be a consensus builder, that’s not in his DNA. In this GOP primary, Patrick, 71, is the superior choice over five opponents whose campaign platforms range from impractical and ill-advised to dangerous. Patrick deserves credit for passing legislation that prohibited taxing entities from raising revenues from property taxes beyond a certain percentage without voter approval, and he led school finance reforms and increased teacher pay. Also running are Trayce Bradford, Daniel Miller, Todd Bullis, Zach Vance and Aaron Sorrells.
This should be a clear-cut choice for principled conservative voters who demand credibility, integrity and leadership from the state’s top elected law enforcement official. The first Hispanic woman to sit on the state’s highest civil court, Guzman, 61, has been a family lawyer, a district judge and an appellate judge. She’s a consistent conservative jurist who says she is running to restore integrity and morale to the attorney general’s office. Also running are incumbent Ken Paxton, George P. Bush and Louie Gohmert.
All five candidates in this contest say they are running to restore integrity to the attorney general’s office. Jaworski, a 59-year-old lawyer and former Galveston mayor, says he would end the culture wars that he says incumbent Ken Paxton has used the office to stoke, and he vows to return the office to its basic responsibilities on behalf of Texans. Also running are Michael Fields, Rochelle Garza, Lee Merritt and S. “T-Bone” Raynor.
The responsibilities of the Texas General Land Office are broad and varied: Manage state lands, fund endowments for public education and administer benefits for veterans. Jay Kleberg understands all three.
He can tell you about the disappearing oyster reefs in the Gulf of Mexico and why the golden-cheeked warbler needs protection in the Hill Country. He has specific concerns about the financing of the veterans’ loan benefits and ideas to generate revenue for the long term by diversifying the state’s energy portfolio. For his attention to detail, experience in conservation and fresh ideas, we recommend Kleberg, 44, in the Democratic primary for Texas land commissioner. Other candidates in the race are Jinny Suh, Sandragrace Martinez and Michael Lange.
Minton, 54, an Army veteran and former criminal district court judge, has the business and industry expertise to help ensure the state maximizes energy output from its public lands. He also offers the best approach to the Alamo, one that would preserve and protect it while balancing its historical narrative. Other candidates are Ben Armenta, Victor Avila, Dawn Buckingham, Rufus Lopez, Weston Martinez, Jon Spiers and Tim Westley.
Now that one of his top consultants is indicted on felony charges, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller has two primary challengers and flagging support from his party. Miller, 66, has been accused of unethical behavior. Carey Counsil, a rancher and economics professor, told us he is running to restore integrity to the office. He wants to protect water rights and invest in desalination technologies. Counsil, 55, has a thorough understanding of futures markets and the forces shaping ag industries, but some of his policy positions seem self-contradictory. The third candidate, James White, is currently the only Black Republican in the Texas Legislature. He has previously served on the House Agriculture and Livestock Committee. We recommend Counsil, but without much enthusiasm.
This office may be vulnerable to a Democratic challenger in the fall. Brazos County cattle rancher Ed Ireson is the party’s best hope. Ireson, 34, is running on a platform focused on the next generation. The Texas Department of Agriculture oversees the school lunch program, and Ireson wants to create better collaborations between that program and Texas producers. He also wants to use TDA grants and incentives to boost infrastructure development in rural communities, particularly digital infrastructure. Ireson’s opponent, Susan Hays, is an abortion rights lawyer and hemp farmer. She believes those roles will be a benefit to her campaign. We think that’s highly unlikely.
We support a healthy Texas oil and gas industry, with firm safety and fair environmental regulations to guide a free market. In 2021, we were disturbed that Texas Railroad Commissioners failed to meet those standards after February’s deadly power outages. That is why this board is reluctant to recommend voters stick with the incumbent. Instead, we recommend Dawayne Tipton, 41, an engineer with a firm understanding of oil and gas production and the good sense to enforce existing regulations before adding more. Other candidates in the race are incumbent Wayne Christian, Sarah Stogner and Tom Slocum Jr. A fifth candidate, Marvin “Sarge” Summers, died on Tuesday in a vehicle crash in Midland, but his name may still appear on the ballot.
We give our recommendation to Schenck, 54, in part because of his experience on the bench, but largely because of his devotion to reforming political fundraising for judges. In Texas, judges are able to raise a good bit of the money they need to run from law firms and their political action committees. Schenck, who also serves as chairman of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, wants that to change. And he’s running an election where he hews to the principles that he wants all judges to follow: not accepting money from the state’s biggest and most influential law firms or their PACs. He faces incumbent Justice Evan Young, an appointee who has yet to be elected to the seat.
Shelby, 67, describes himself as a moderate Democrat who has been fighting for “Democratic values” his entire life. The Royse City resident understands the political vibes of a conservative district that includes much of Collin and Hunt counties. Shelby, who is retired, wants to fix the immigration system, increase visas to provide workers for jobs that have gone unfilled in the United States, improve rural health care and stimulate economic growth. Also running is Sandeep Srivastava.
Taylor, 49, a businessman and Marine veteran in his second term in Congress, has demonstrated deeply conservative values dating back to his years as a member of the Texas House and Senate. He has a reputation as one of Congress’ most engaged and responsive members to his constituents. This district now covers most of Collin and Hunt counties. Other candidates are Keith Self, Suzanne Harp, Jeremy Ivanovskis and Rickey Williams.
Derrik Gay is the Democratic challenger best equipped to compete in this suburban district in November. Gay, 36, told us he decided to join the Marine Corps after Sept. 11, 2001, and decided to run for Congress after Jan. 6, 2021. Gay, an attorney, wants to present an economic argument for voting Democratic. “Our country is strongest when we have a robust middle class,” he said. He enjoys the support of Dallas business executive Jeanne Phillips, who served under President George W. Bush. Gay’s strongest challenge should come from Kathy Fragnoli, a trained mediator. A third candidate is retired CPA Jan McDowell.
Rep. Beth Van Duyne, 51, seems caught between the need to espouse strident party rhetoric and the desire to actually solve problems for her constituents. She generally sticks to Republican talking points, but can produce helpful proposals related to voting and economic mobility. She has drawn a primary challenger this year from Nate Weymouth, a pharmacologist.
If any of the six candidates has a shot to turn this solidly Democratic district red in the fall, it’s James Rodgers. Rodgers’ ideas on criminal justice may resonate with some Democratic voters. He calls for more police accountability and diversionary measures. Rodgers, 38, works for a network of private schools, which gives him insight into a public school system he calls “busted,” and his conservative ideas draw him to seek market-based solutions. Rodgers faces five opponents: Dakinya Jefferson, Lizbeth Diaz, Kelvin Goodwin Castillo, James Harris and Angeigh Roc’ellerpitts.
Texas political legend and 30-year incumbent Eddie Bernice Johnson has endorsed Texas Rep. Jasmine Crockett as her successor, and we think she’s the best choice. Crockett, 40, is an attorney who was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2020. An unabashed progressive, she is a founding member of the Texas Progressive Caucus and a “lead architect” of last year’s quorum break. In our candidate meeting, Crockett showed herself in command of complex policy details. Jane Hope Hamilton, 43, is a strong second choice. She has experience as a congressional staffer on Capitol Hill. She is outspoken on criminal justice reform and voting rights. Also running are attorney Abel Mulugheta, former state representative and Dallas City Council member Barbara Mallory Caraway; former municipal judge and Dallas City Council member Vonciel Jones Hill, Navy veteran Jessica Mason, Arthur Dixon, Cedar Hill ISD trustee Keisha Williams-Lankford, and former Dallas constable Roy Williams Jr.
King, 65, is a limited-government conservative who has more than two decades of legislative experience. He represented residents of Parker and Wise counties in House District 61 until deciding to run for this newly redrawn Senate district. An attorney and former police officer, King served on the powerful State Affairs, Higher Education and Criminal Jurisprudence committees and is known for taking on complicated issues such as telecommunications and electricity competition. Also running is Warren Norred.
Parker, a 50-year-old businessman, was first elected to the Texas House in 2006, representing District 63 in southwest Denton County. He’s proved to be a productive lawmaker and a capable negotiator. He has authored multiple bills that went on to become law, and his conciliatory approach has won him the respect of both Republicans and Democrats. His opponent is Chris Russell.
Ly, 50, works as a court coordinator in the 134th Civil District Court in Dallas. A native of Cambodia, she has participated in Democratic campaigns for years and serves as chair of the North Texas chapter of Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs and as chair of the election-monitoring committee of the National Asian American Political Action Committee. Neither Ly nor her opponent, business manager Ferdi Mongo, have experience in elected office.
Holland, who was first elected to this seat in 2016, is a real estate broker in Rockwall County. He grew up in the city and served on the Heath City Council for five years before he began his legislative career in Austin. Holland, 37, currently serves as vice chair of the Sunset Advisory Commission. Also running are business owner and Marine Corps veteran Dennis London,and Army veteran Scott LaMarca. Neither has served in elected office.
Voters have a choice between two young, first-time candidates who are running to bring the perspectives of under-25 Texans to the Legislature. And while their inexperience is a concern, our recommendation goes to Peter Haase, a semiconductor engineer from Richardson, who says he wants to improve Texas’ infrastructure, energy grid and affordable housing options. He also supports abortion rights, environmental conservation, Medicaid eligibility expansion and affordable healthcare. Also running is Graeson Lynskey.
From McKinney to Dallas to Austin, Frazier has spent years building a reputation as an honest, hardworking cop who straps on his gear in the predawn hours to go after some of the worst bad guys there are. He has also been a strong representative of officer concerns in Dallas and across the state. And, most recently, he was a council member promoting growth in McKinney. Frazier, 50, has the best ideas to lower property taxes, and he balances his strong conservatism with a respectful approach to others. Also running are Paul Chabot and Jim Herblin.
Sanders, 75, a former four-term mayor of Trophy Club, has built a résumé fortified by his work with residents, government officials and legislators. Co-founder and CEO of a software business, Sanders also has served on the executive board of the North Central Texas Council of Governments and the Regional Transportation Council. Others running in this Denton County primary are Benjamin Bumgarner, Jake Collier and Jeff Younger.
Stucky, a longtime Denton County veterinarian, is seeking a fourth term in office, and Republican voters should give it to him. Stucky, 63, is a serious conservative in a world where many unserious candidates now run for office on platforms of social media nonsense and cable news half-truths. His opponent, political newcomer and software engineer Andy Hopper is not ready for this job and won’t be based on the ideas he fosters, among them putting Texas State Guard troops “on the other side of the Rio Grande River.”
After being redrawn to exclude the incumbent, this district is primed to flip to a Republican in the fall. Primary voters should select Thimesch, 54. She has a record of public service stretching back decades, including five years as a trustee for Lewisville ISD. She favors conservative policies on immigration, abortion and taxes. As a business owner, she’s outspoken about the need to keep taxes and regulation low. She is well informed about issues like human trafficking, foster care and public education. Thimesch faces two opponents in the primary: Robert Cooksey and Peyton Inge.
Leach, 39, a Plano attorney serving his fifth term representing this Collin County district, is one of Austin’s most active conservatives with consensus-building ability. He’s in his second term as chair of the House’s judiciary committee and has a 100% constituent meeting policy. Leach remains rooted in deeply conservative values but has embraced bipartisanship at important times. He has sponsored bills leading to two constitutional amendments approved by voters. Leach’s opponent is Julia Schmoker.
Sanchez is not new to politics in Collin County. He stood for office two years ago, winning the Democratic nomination for House District 67 and losing to Republican incumbent Jeff Leach by a 3.4-point margin. Sanchez, 36, strikes us as the candidate who best understands voters in his district, where people are interested in candidates who work for solutions. Sanchez is a strong Democrat, but he is cognizant that political division is becoming dangerous in this country. Also running are attorney Cassandra Garcia Hernandez and longtime legislative aide Mihaela Plesa.
In this competitive race, we recommend Jamee Jolly, who has built a résumé of work with associations that represent Plano constituents. Jolly, 46, is senior executive director of the Plano ISD Education Foundation and a former chief executive of the Plano Chamber. She seems to be the most prepared to tackle Texas’ top legislative issues in a balanced manner. From one topic to the next, Jolly shows she understands constituents and aims to learn more. Other candidates in the race are Eric Bowlin, LaDale Buggs and Daniel Chandler.
Bhojani gets our nod in this three-way Democratic primary. An attorney who has served on the Euless City Council, Bhojani, 41, impressed us with a command of major statewide issues and a desire to find bipartisanship solutions. Bhojani demonstrated grace and a professional temperament when then-state Rep. Jonathan Stickland used social media to attack him for being a Muslim and an immigrant from Pakistan. Also running are Tracy Scott, Dinesh Sharma.
Capriglione, 48, seeks his sixth term in this heavily GOP district in Northeast Tarrant County. He has spent four sessions on the Appropriations Committee and was the chief writer of the House’s health and human services budget last year. Legislation that Capriglione, an investment services business owner, has sponsored or co-sponsored includes bills to improve state contracting, tighten cybersecurity, increase budget transparency and reduce taxes for small businesses. His opponent is Mitchell Ryan.
Jones, a real estate agent and chief executive of the Southern Black Policy and Advocacy Network, is a District 100 native. He has a decade of Washington policy work under his belt, focused on health care and HIV initiatives. He supports expanding Medicaid, boosting state funding for public schools and making voting easier and more convenient. For his deep ties to the district, his experience in government and his practical approach to important issues, Jones, 39, gets our recommendation. Other candidates in the race are Marquis Hawkins, Daniel Davis Clayton and Sandra Crenshaw.
In a close call, our recommendation goes to Ginsberg, an attorney whose answers on policy issues went deeper than her opponent’s and whose work as an attorney would give her an advantage as a legislator. Even as Ginsberg, 53, embraces some policy positions that we disagree with, we see her as a commonsense candidate who would be willing and able to work on legislation that advances the state, rather than being someone who would get bogged down in political fighting. She faces educator Freda Heald in the race.
Guio, 34, a criminal defense attorney, has a history of community activism and a strong grasp of issues important to this diverse Dallas district. She boasts eight years as a prosecutor in the Dallas County district attorney’s office. Guio focuses on health care, education, women’s reproductive rights and voting rights. Her most qualified opponent is John Bryant, who spent 14 years in the U.S. House and nine in the Texas House. Also running are Charles Gearing, Kendall Scudder and Chris Leal.
We recommend incumbent Pat Hardy for her deep experience and commonsense approach to the difficult questions school leaders face. Hardy, 73, a former teacher, is a 20-year veteran of the board. She grasps the key debates among parents and administrators throughout the state — that is, whether curriculum teaches history accurately and inclusively, whether students can check out inappropriate materials from the school library, and whether kids are even learning to read those library materials. Her answer to each issue is to look at the actual curriculum, the actual legislation, the actual books, consult with the experts (teachers and librarians) and, if there is a problem, sit down and find a practical solution. Other candidates in the race are Joshua Tarbay, Rebecca Garcia and DC Caldwell.
We recommend Luis Miguel Sifuentes, 34, a human resources officer from Chicago now living in Southlake and a former social studies and Texas history teacher. He strikes us as an earnest candidate who cares about making sure all kids get a fair shot at a quality education. The other candidate in the primary, D.C. Caldwell, doesn’t strike us as an earnest candidate because he also filed in the Republican primary, rendering him ineligible to win in the general election.
Velasco, 38, has over 10 years of teaching and administration experience in Dallas ISD. He says it’s crucial that teachers be relieved of their daily burden of administrative tasks so they can concentrate on educating, and he believes politics should be kept out of the classroom. His background in an urban school district gives him an understanding of what helps teachers and students succeed. Velasco’s opponent is Alex Cornwallis.
Jenkins, 57, has done important work to lead Dallas County through nearly two years of COVID-19 chaos. Though we have at times questioned the county’s approach, Jenkins has acted thoughtfully and decisively through a public health crisis for which there is no roadmap or playbook. As the top elected county executive, he has supported reforms to the county’s cash bail system and increased investments in mental health. Also running is attorney Billy Clark.
A patent attorney and longtime Dallas schools trustee, Flores forged educational reforms during two stints on the Dallas ISD board. A thoughtful, results-oriented conservative, Flores, 55, wants the county and municipalities in Dallas County to work together through regional partnerships and private-public agreements to maximize resources and reduce costs to taxpayers. He also said the county needs to streamline the intake system at the jail and expand health care into underserved communities. Also running is Lauren Davis.
Sommerman, 61, a resident of northwest Dallas and a civil attorney who is representing Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins in a lawsuit against District 2 Commissioner J.J. Koch over mask mandates. He said he is running because he doesn’t want politics to drive public health policy. His most formidable opponent is former Dallas City Council member Philip Kingston, 49. Also running are attorney Michelle Ocker and businessman Tom Ervin.
Elected in 2018, Creuzot, who spent two decades as a felony judge, remains focused on reducing mass incarceration that hinders many who can be rehabilitated from returning to society. He wants to improve the county’s pre-trial intervention system to reduce the number of low-level offenders in jail for probation violations and backs programs to divert homeless and mentally ill defendants from the criminal justice system into support services. Also running is Elizabeth Frizell.
This race features two candidates with passion, a history of service and a positive outlook for the county. Deborah Peoples is the better choice. Peoples, 69, is a retired AT&T vice president and former Tarrant County party chair. Her campaign slogan, “Tarrant means business,” focuses her on growing the economy and bringing jobs to help balance a tax burden that falls mostly on homeowners. Peoples is capable of delivering votes in both the primary and general elections. Her opponent, Marvin Sutton, is an Air Force veteran and retired air traffic controller. He served a term on the Arlington City Council.
Fort Worth’s longest-tenured mayor is the best Republican candidate to become Tarrant County’s next judge. As mayor, Betsy Price, 72, cut tax rates, and her tenure was marked by growth, goodwill and common sense. The commissioners court is losing three members while also receiving an influx of funding. It’s a critical moment for the county that calls for someone with experience and a steady hand. Price faces former county Republican Party chair Tim O’Hare, who has endorsements from voices in the far right wing of the party. Also running are corrections officer Robert Trevor Buker and Kristen Collins, who didn’t list contact information on her filing documents and doesn’t appear to have a campaign website.