Former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia easily avoided a runoff Tuesday in his bid to become the Democratic nominee for Harris County Commissioner Precinct 2, setting the stage for what could be one of the Houston area’s highest-profile local November matchups.
Garcia, who is returning from unsuccessful bids for congress and Houston mayor, will square off against Republican Commissioner Jack Morman for the chance to represent east Harris County.
I never take any race lightly,” Morman said, referencing his 2010 victory over then-Commissioner Sylvia Garcia. “I’ve got a great team, and we all work very, very hard. So, at the end of the day, I expect we’ll be victorious.”
Garcia is among the candidates Democrats hope will help turn Harris County bluer this fall. The party has struggled in recent midterm elections to field a robust slate of candidates for local offices long held by Republicans, but their deeper roster — paired with higher-than-expected turnout — has stoked liberals’ hopes.
Republicans, meanwhile, are looking to popular state- and countywide incumbents to hold down the party’s longtime advantage in Harris County.
“It’s really a critical look in the mirror for both parties to see, ‘What is the energy level? What are the get out the vote operations looking like?’” local Republican consultant Jim McGrath said. “It’s your tried-and-true, dependable voters that are turning out today, but still it’s a good bellwether.”
In other races for Harris County administrative posts, attorney Penny Shaw was set for an easy win in the Democratic primary for Harris County Commissioner Precinct 4, a seat currently held by Republican Jack Cagle.
Republican Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, meanwhile, is expected to cruise to re-election against Democrat and first-time candidate Lina Hidalgo. Both ran unopposed in their primaries.
Other local races were less settled with nearly all precincts reporting.
Democrat Marilyn Burgess, a certified public accountant, was leading Roslyn “Rozzy” Shorter, who works in international travel, by a wide margin for the opportunity to challenge Harris County District Clerk Chris Daniel, a Republican running unopposed. Burgess and Shorter still appeared headed to a runoff, however.
The Democratic primary for Harris County Clerk was set for a runoff between County School Trustee Diane Trautman and Gayle Young Mitchell, who formerly worked for the clerk’s office. The winner will face Republican Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart.
The race to challenge Republican County Treasurer Orlando Sanchez was poised for a runoff, as well. Dylan Osborne, who works for Houston’s Planning and Development Department, narrowly led Cosme Garcia, who previously worked in the county’s voter registration department.
Voters on both sides of the aisle also weighed in on an abundance of judicial races, a task West University Place-area voter David Washburn called “ridiculous.”
“Even as a lawyer, I have no clue,” Washburn, a Democrat, said. “But I actually went through all the Chronicle endorsements, then I got on the Harris County Democratic Party and looked at all the bios.”
Harris County Republican Party Chair Paul Simpson was leading in his bid for re-election against attorney Chris Carmona.