Christie Craddick made it unanimous. On Sept. 12, the chair of the three-member Texas Railroad Commission became the final non-judicial statewide office-holder to announce for re-election in 2018.

She and all the others are Republicans. And if the voter habits of Texans continue bright Red, as they have for the past two decades, whoever wins the Republican primaries next spring – probably them --will win in the November general election.

Texas Democrats, with the 20-plus year longest losing streak for any state in electing statewide officials, hope that will change in 2018.

That hope is fueled by the low ratings for Republican President Donald Trump, even though he isn't on the ballot in 2018. Trump easily took Texas in 2016, by nine percent, but is tracking in the high 30s today.

Also, Republican U. S. Sen. Ted Cruz, upset GOP primary winner in 2012 over then-Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for the senate seat vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison, also faces approval ratings in the 30s – and is up for re-election in 2018.

"I think you are going to see a dam break in Texas politics," predicted third-term U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio. Castro is mentioned as a possible statewide candidate next year, although he earlier this year ruled out running for Cruz's seat next year.

Castro said after a Democratic rally at the capitol in Austin that the combination of Trump's unpopularity, even though he isn't personally on the ballot in 2018, makes things worse for Republicans who are facing re-election next year – including Cruz, whose own low poll ratings are helping rev up Democratic enthusiasm.

Plus, Democrats are still angry about efforts to control bathroom use by transgenders, led by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and supported by Gov. Greg Abbott. Both are seeking re-election in 2018.

El Paso Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, also in his third term, is seeking the nomination to contest Cruz. His campaign, featuring Facebook live-streaming of his recent tour through 143 of the state's 254 counties, has gotten lots of attention.

Part of the appeal, observers say, is that O'Rourke, who drew impressive crowds at 38 town hall meetings during the congressional recess, doesn't spend his time trashing Trump, Cruz or other Republicans.

While conceding his race is uphill, O'Rourke spends his time concentrating on his positive message of what he'll do if elected, including bipartisan cooperation, rather than bashing Cruz.

Observations about 2018:
Midterm Elections for New Presidents --

If history is a guide, the party of a new president suffers losses in Congress and state legislatures in the mid-term elections two years after the presidential election.

That happened in spades to Democrat Barack Obama, in the 2010 election, after his 2008 election, and the passage of ObamaCare.

The same happened to Democrat Bill Clinton, in the 1994 midterm elections following his 1992 election, and failed effort to pass health care reform.

The 2002 mid-term election after Republican George W. Bush was elected in 2000 was an exception – mostly because of the 9/11 terrorist attack in 2001. The Republicans capitalized on backing their party to express support for Bush -- and it worked, even though he wasn't on the ballot.

This time, the political cards may be stacked favoring Democratic gains.

A Few Other Races –
Governor: So far, no Democratic heavyweights. Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa hopes Joaquin Castro, who hasn't ruled it out, might run.

Joaquin Castro is the congressional member of the Castro family. His twin brother, Julian Castro, the former San Antonio Mayor, and President Barack Obama's secretary of Housing and Urban Development, has ruled out a 2018 race, while working on a book and teaching.

One observer suggested Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who spent a quarter century in the Texas House of Representatives.

Lieutenant Governor: Mike Collier, the corporate auditor and chief financial officer, was the Democratic nominee for comptroller in 2014, He has shifted his sights for 2018 to being presiding officer of the Texas Senate, and next in line for the governorship

Collier, of Houston, is already actively campaigning, in person and on-line.

U.S. House of Representatives: This category is caught in a sort of limbo right now. A three-judge federal court has ruled two of Texas' 36 districts – currently split 25 Republicans and 95 Democrats -- were drawn unconstitutionally to discriminate against minorities.

The U.S. Supreme Court, however, has put a stay on the opinion while the high court considers the case. Whether that will result in a quick decision one way or the other, or more likely, have the 2018 elections carried out using the same districts that already exist, remains to be seen.

Texas House of Representatives: The three-judge court also ruled that nine of Texas' 150 districts in the Texas House were also drawn on a discriminatory basis. The high court also put a hold on enforcement of that decision.

If the court decides to allow the redistricting for the 2018 elections, it's a whole new ballgame.

Author: Tribune StaffEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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