Republican candidates facing tight races in March primary - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Republican candidates facing tight races in March primary

TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

Many East Texans will be heading to the polls Friday, the last day of early voting for the primary on March 4.

In East Texas, the most competitive races, both locally and statewide, will be decided by those voting in the Republican primary. Some of the most fierce battles on the statewide level include the races for Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General.

Locally, two opposing East Texas candidates running for the State representative lobbied to win over voters, standing just feet away from each other outside an early voting location on Thursday.

“This is the season for it so people kind of expect it and I think they enjoy seeing us out here,” said incumbent State Representative for District 6, Matt Schaefer.

"We look forward to being out in front of the voters and saying hi to them personally,” added Schaefer’s competitor, Skip Ogle.

Like Schaefer and Ogle, Republicans in hotly contested races are looking to avoid runoffs with clean wins on Tuesday, propelling them to the general election in November.

According to a new poll released this week conducted by the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune, many of the most important races are so close that those who normally don’t vote in primaries may want to reconsider.

For Texas’ second-in-command, three Republicans are challenging incumbent Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst. In this most recent poll, Dewhurst ekes out a win, just six percent ahead of his closest competitor. Dewhurst polled with 37% of the GOP primary vote, closely followed by State Senator Dan Patrick with 31%, Palestine native and Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples with 17%, and Commissioner of the General Land Office Jerry Patterson with 15%. Should the poll hold up, it’s likely Dewhurst will face Patrick in a runoff election this spring.

It’s not any easier for Republicans looking to fill current Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbot’s spot. Dan Branch, a state representative from Dallas, currently leads Ken Paxton, a state senator from McKinney, by just four slim points, with 42% and 38% respectively. If that margin holds up on Tuesday, the two will likely also be headed for a runoff, without the current third place candidate, Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman.

Coincidentally however, the race for U.S. Senator has eight candidates in the Republican primary. Yet, incumbent Senator John Cornyn handily leading the pack in the latest poll, with 62% of GOP voters.

Looking ahead to 2016, the UT/TT poll also asked Texas Republican voters who they’d liked to see as the GOP nominee for a White House run.

The runaway leader is Ted Cruz, with 28% of the votes. He’s followed by current Texas Governor Rick Perry, trailing with just 10% of prospective voters’ support.

Early voting for the March 4 primary ends Friday evening. The final day of voting will take place on Tuesday.

Copyright 2014 KLTV. All rights reserved.

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