DID TED CRUZ BLAZE A TRAIL FOR OTHER TEA PARTY CONSERVATIVES?
Tea party conservatives claimed important gains in the last two elections in Texas, most notably Ted Cruz's defeat of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in their U.S. Senate race in 2012. More than a dozen tea party politicians are using Cruz's underdog tactics in races up and down the ballot hoping to oust more established Republican officeholders, chief among them Dewhurst and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. For more evidence of the tea party's post-Cruz power, watch the Texas attorney general's race and the battle between U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions and Katrina Pierson in the 32nd Congressional District.
ARE DEMOCRATS FIRED UP?
Democrats formed Battleground Texas a year ago to breathe new life into the moribund party. Four months later, Fort Worth Sen. Wendy Davis became a hero for women's rights by filibustering restrictive abortion legislation. Battleground has signed up 12,000 volunteers and Davis is running for governor with a dedicated base, but will all this energy turn out voters for the Democratic primary? Davis has no competitor, but her campaign and Battleground Texas have been running phone banks to get people in the habit of voting before it really counts in November.
HOW MANY REPUBLICAN RACES WILL GO TO A RUNOFF?
Six of the state's top jobs do not have an incumbent, and 26 Republicans are jockeying to fill those seats. Tight races for lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, agriculture commissioner and railroad commissioner are likely to lead to runoffs on May 27. Since the Republican nominee has won every statewide election since 1994, this spring could see some intense campaigning to win over what has traditionally been a tiny electorate.
WILL DEMOCRATS BE EMBARASSED IN THE U.S. SENATE RACE?
The 2012 primary race for the Democratic nomination to run for U.S. Senate embarrassed the party when perennial candidate and part-time Republican Grady Yarbrough gathered enough votes to force a runoff with party favorite Paul Sadler without running a significant campaign. This time Kesha Rogers, who is allied with frequent presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche and wants to impeach President Barack Obama, could create problems for party activists David Alameel and Maxey Scherr. Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa has called on Democrats to reject Rogers, but familiar last names still count for a lot in races with unknown candidates.
HOW SOON WILL THE GOVERNOR'S RACE BEGIN IN EARNEST?
Both Davis and Republican Greg Abbott have long been the presumptive nominees for governor, and in many ways the general election has already begun. The only question after Tuesday's primary is whether the most expensive election in Texas history will take off immediately, or if the campaigns will save their resources for the fall when voters are paying more attention.
Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/cltomlinson