Early voting for primary runoff: brisk but underwhelming

 

Early voting in the primary runoff elections has been brisk but not overwhelming, Smith County Elections Administrator Karen Nelson said. 

As early voting in the May 24 runoff elections closed on Friday, 1,638 people in Smith County had voted.

This year, runoff races include a Texas House and a Texas Senate seat are on the Republican ballot, along with a State Board of Education race that has received some national attention.

"I looked back in 2008, and we only had one state race on the Democrat side and two on the Republican side, and we only voted 609 during early voting," she said. "We're at almost 1,600 now, so I'd say we're doing pretty well. And I've sent out a little more than 2,900 mail-out ballots, too."

The hotly contested 2012 primaries in Smith County, which included the sheriff's race and a U.S. Senate seat up for grabs, drew nearly 12,000 early voters. That was a record for Smith County, she said.

In the race to fill the seat being vacated by state Sen. Kevin Eltife, of Tyler, state Rep. Bryan Hughes, of Mineola, and state Rep. David Simpson, of Longview, will meet in the Republican runoff. They drew the most votes in a field of four candidates March 1.

There's no Democrat on the ballot in November, so the winner May 24 will be sworn in to the Texas Senate in January.

In the Texas House District 5 race (that's the seat being vacated by Hughes for his Senate run), Lindale businessman Jay Misenheimer will face Mount Pleasant builder Cole Hefner. There's no Democrat on the November ballot, so this vote will decide the seat.

East Texans also will choose a Republican nominee for the State Board of Education. Retired Mineola teacher Mary Lou Bruner faces Lufkin school board president Dr. Keven Ellis. The winner of this contest will go against Amanda M. Rudolph, the Democratic candidate for the seat, in November.

In Smith County, the Precinct 4 constable race is going into a runoff. The top two candidates, incumbent Constable John Smith and challenger Josh Joplin, will face off. Smith won 39.1 percent of the Precinct 4 GOP votes, while Joplin took 23.9 percent.

Some statewide races are also on the Republican ballot; they include Railroad Commissioner (Wayne Christian faces Gary Gates), the Court of Criminal Appeals Place 2 (Mary Lou Keel versus Ray Wheless) and the Court of Criminal Appeals Place 5 (between Scott Walker and Brent Webster).

Democrats in Smith County have only one race on their ballots -- Cody Garrett and Grady Yarborough for railroad commissioner.

The election is Tuesday, with polls open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

 
 

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