There are two State Senate seats to be filled by a special election on Tuesday, as replacements for Teel Bivins and Bill Ratliff will be chosen. Bivins will surely be replaced by another Republican (though there is a credible Democrat running for that seat), but the Dems have a pickup opportunity in East Texas where Democrat Paul Sadler is among the top candidates running.
[O]bservers don't expect to see any candidate emerge with more than half the vote Tuesday. That outcome would mean a runoff election next month between the top two vote-getters.
Leading candidates include:
• Kevin Eltife, 44, a Republican and the former mayor of Tyler. He is backed by Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, both Republicans. Mr. Eltife has raised the most money of any candidate, with more than $472,000 listed in his latest campaign finance report. He reported $168,000 more in donations in an earlier report.
• Tommy Merritt, 55, a Republican House member from Longview. He is one of the more colorful members of his party in the lower chamber and is considered somewhat of a maverick – so much so that several GOP leaders are working against him in the primary. He has raised only $64,000 in donations, but he is wealthy and is expected to match his opponents in campaign spending.
• Paul Sadler, 48, a Democrat and former House member from Henderson. As chairman of the House Public Education Committee, he teamed with Mr. Ratliff to author the 1995 school law that later was touted by George W. Bush when he ran for president. Mr. Sadler also sponsored the teacher health insurance bill passed in 2001. He has raised $440,000 in campaign contributions.
Polls show the three men running close in the race to succeed Mr. Ratliff, who has not endorsed any of the candidates.