By Camille Cox | Staff Writer
McLennan County primary election early voting will begin on Feb. 14, with over 35 separate elections forming the Democratic and Republican ballots. Voters will choose one of the parties’ ballots to vote on, choosing the candidates they wish to represent the party in the November general state election.
District 17 U.S. representative, governor, attorney general, lieutenant governor, district 22 state senator, districts 13 and 56 state representatives, county judges and dozens of local positions are all up for election during the McLennan County primary election on March 1. A complete list of the candidates and positions can be found on the Texas Secretary of State website.
Jared Goldsmith, CERA elections administrator for McLennan County Elections Office, explained that sample ballots can be found on their websites as well. Goldsmith said voters can prepare to cast their vote by viewing and researching the candidates they plan to vote for in the primary election.
U.S. Representative District 17:
Democratic candidate: Mary Jo Woods
Republican candidates: (incumbent) Pete Sessions, Rob Rosenberger, Jason “Stormchaser” Nelson and Paulette Carson.
Texas’ 17th Congressional District includes Bastrop County, Brazos County, Burleson County, Falls County, Freestone County, Lee County, Leon County, Limestone County, McLennan County, Milam County, Robertson County and Travis County, totaling a population of over 786,000 constituents, according to Census Reporter.
Woods said she will be running for the House of Representatives to serve as a voice for all constituents, regardless of who they are.
“It’s always been in the back of my head, and after the past couple years, things have been crazy and turbulent, and seeing the elections that transpired on the congressional level here, I saw that Pete Sessions was the one who was elected, and he was voted out of Dallas and then moved down to Waco and came here,” Woods said. “He lost in Dallas, and in that little interim period, he came down here and won, and I thought, ‘Well, that’s not right.’”
Woods will be the only Democratic candidate on the ballot in the primary but will face the winner of the Republican primary in the general election in November.
Democratic candidates: Inocencio (Inno) Barrientez, Rich Wakeland, Beto O’Rourke, Joy Diaz and Michael Cooper.
Republican candidates: (incumbent) Greg Abbott, Chad Prather, Kandy Kaye Horn, Allen B. West, Paul Belew, Danny Harrison, Rick Perry (no relation to former Texas Gov. Rick Perry) and Don Huffines.
Goldsmith explained that the primary election is used to narrow the field of candidates for the general election.
“In the primary, the candidate has to get over 50% of the vote to win the primary, and if no candidates receive 50% or more of the vote, there will be a runoff in late May,” Goldsmith said. “It’ll be the top two vote-getters in that particular contest that will go to the runoff.”
According to the Hill, incumbent Greg Abbott currently leads the GOP primary while Beto O’Rourke leads the Democratic primary.
Democratic candidates: Michelle Beckley, Mike Collier and Carla Bradley
Republican candidates: (incumbent) Dan Patrick, Todd M. Bullis, Daniel Miller, Trayce Bradford, Zach Vance and Aaron Sorrells
The Texas Senate describes the lieutenant governor of Texas’ duties as presiding over the state senate. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has served in this position since 2014.
Democratic candidates: Joe Jaworski, Rochelle Mercedes Garza, Lee Merritt, Mike Fields and S. “TBONE” Raynor
Republican candidates: (incumbent) Ken Paxton, Louie Gohmert, Eva Guzman and George P. Bush
Texas Monthly described the race for attorney general as the “weirdest, wildest, and most telling Texas Election in 2022.” Ken Paxton, current attorney general of Texas, will face a Bush family member and a former state Supreme Court justice on his own primary ballot. The attorney general of Texas is responsible for defending the state’s laws as the state’s chief legal officer.
State Senator District 22:
Republican candidate: (incumbent) Brian Birdwell
Senator Birdwell will be on the ballot unopposed, running for reelection for district 22 state senator.
State Representative District 13:
Democratic candidates: Cedric Davis Sr. and Cuevas Sean Peacock
Republican candidates: Dennis D. Wilson and Angelia Orr
Current district 13 state Representative Ben Leman is not seeking reelection in 2022. District 13 includes Austin County, Burleson County, Colorado County, Fayette County, Grimes County, Lavaca County and Washington County.
State Representative District 56:
Democratic candidate: Erin Shank
Republican candidate: (incumbent) Charles Doc Anderson
Anderson has served as district 56 state representative since 2004.
If reelected, Anderson said he will “continue to provide conservative representation for the hardworking folks of McLennan County and continue to provide job opportunities.”
Shank said that she decided to run against Anderson after his response to Winter Storm Uri in 2021.
“They were warned 10 years ago that the grid would fail and be a catastrophic failure and you need to winterize it, and they didn’t, and that’s where I said, ‘We deserve better,’” Shank said.
Local elections will also be on the ballot, including positions such as railroad commissioner, Supreme Court justice, commissioner of agriculture, comptroller of public accounts, state board of education members, district judges, county courts, district clerk, county treasurer, etc. For more information, visit the complete list of McLennan County candidates, where both the Democratic and Republican ballots can be viewed.
Goldsmith said early voting will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 14 – Feb. 18, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 19 and from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 20. There will be no early voting Feb. 21 due to the federal holiday. Early voting will reconvene from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 22 – Feb. 25. Election day will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. March 1.
“There are 34 election day voting centers, which can be found on our website at mclennanvotes.com, and because they are vote centers, our voters can go vote at any of them and they are not assigned to any particular polling place,” Goldsmith said.