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Who’s In: Here Are The Candidates Who’ve Filed In 2018’s Top Texas Primary Races

Andrew White (top left), Lupe Valdez (top right) and Grady Yarbrough (bottom left) are among eight Democrats and one Republican challenging Gov. Greg Abbott (bottom right).
Andrew White (top left), Lupe Valdez (top right) and Grady Yarbrough (bottom left) are among eight Democrats and one Republican challenging Gov. Greg Abbott (bottom right).

This post has been updated throughout.

One thing is clear: The 2018 midterm elections in Texas will be lively. Democrats have pledged a full-frontal assault on statewide offices, which Republicans have controlled since 1994.

Two high-profile Democrats came out swinging at the incumbent Republican governor, announcing gubernatorial bids in the past week. An edgy progressive in Congress is mounting an unorthodox, uphill challenge to a conservative stalwart and Tea Party darling in the Senate. And candidates from both parties are crowding in for their shot at the whopping eight open seats in the Texas congressional delegation.

The midterm elections are less than a year away. The primaries come in March. And Monday marks the last day for candidates to file for office.

Listen to a conversation about the 2018 midterm elections.

Check out the list below to see who’s facing off for statewide offices and seats in Washington that represent North Texas.  Find more information on your races and candidates in our voter guide.

Greg Abbott, Republican: The incumbent won the job in 2014. He had raised $41 million for this race by the time he announced his re-election bid in July. More on Abbott.

SECEDE Kilgore, Republican: Kilgore has drawn his share of attention. In 2012, the Irving resident changed his legal middle name to SECEDE. He's argued for "Texit," and imagines an independent Texas that abides by “biblical law.” More on Kilgore.

Barbara Krueger, Republican: Krueger filed as a Republican candidate from Plano.

James Jolly Clark, Democrat: Clark filed as a Democratic candidate from Austin.

Cedric Davis, Democrat: Davis was the first black mayor of Balch Springs. He's also an educator at Garland ISD.  Campaign Facebook page.

Joe Mumbach, Democrat: Mumbach is an electronics businessman from Houston. Campaign Facebook page.

Adrian Ocegueda, Democrat: Ocegueda is an investment adviser from Dallas. Campaign website.

Jeffrey Payne, Democrat: Payne's an openly gay business owner in Dallas. When he declared in July, he said he’d commit $2.5 million of his personal money to the race. More on Payne.

Lupe Valdez, Democrat: Valdez was elected last year to her fourth term as Dallas County sheriff. She has since resigned as the nation’s first openly lesbian sheriff.  More on Valdez.

Tom Wakely, Democrat: Wakely's a former congressional candidate from San Antonio. Campaign website.

Andrew White, Democrat: The Houston businessman is the son of former Gov. Mark White, who died in August. He says that while he's proud of his family legacy, that's not why he's running. More on White.

Grady Yarbrough, Democrat: A perennial candidate, Yarbrough was the Democratic nominee for Railroad Commissioner last year, ultimately losing to Republican Wayne Christian. More on Yarbrough.

Scott Milder, Republican: Milder is a public education advocate, who filed from Rockwall. Watch these Texas Tribune interviews with Milder.

Dan Patrick, Republican: Patrick is seeking a second term as lieutenant governor. In the most recent legislative session, he pushed for property tax relief and a so-called “bathroom bill” regulating public restroom use for transgender Texans.  More on Patrick.

Mike Collier, Democrat:Collier is a Houston-area accountant who stepped down as finance chair of the Texas Democratic Party to run. He was the Democratic nominee for state comptroller in 2014, but lost by 20 points to Glenn Hegar. More on Collier.

Michael Cooper, Democrat:Cooper is a sales manager at Kinsel Toyota in Beaumont. He filed using a Fort Worth address.  Campaign website.

Ken Paxton, Republican: Paxton, who's from McKinney, is seeking a second term. He’s been under indictment for most of his current term, fighting securities fraud charges. More on Paxton.

Justin Nelson, Democrat: Nelson is a lawyer specializing in major civil litigation at a Houston law firm. He lives in Austin, where he’s an adjunct professor at the University of Texas. More on Nelson.

Ted Cruz, Republican:Cruz is seeking his second term. He spent a chunk of his term running for president in 2016. He won the Texas primary, but ultimately lost the Republican nomination to Donald Trump. More on Cruz.

Bruce Jacobson, Republican: Jacobson works as an executive producer for the Christian cable show Life Today TV. More on Jacobson.

Mary Miller, Republican: Miller is a CPA from the Houston area.  Campaign website.

Geraldine Sam, Republican: Sam was elected as mayor of La Marque in 2009 and recalled in 2011. She criticized Cruz at last year’s Republican National Convention for not endorsing then-candidate Donald Trump as the party nominee in his speech. More on Sam.

Stefano de Stefano, Republican:  Houston-area energy attorney de Stefano was a one-time supporter of Ted Cruz, but is now running against him with the hashtag #tiredofted.  More on de Stefano.

Sema Hernandez, Democrat: Self-described as a "Progressive Berniecrat," Hernandez has a background in health care and says she's experienced the flaws in the system firsthand. She's a first-generation American and native of Houston. Campaign Facebook page.

Edward Kimbrough, Democrat:Kimbrough filed as a Democratic candidate from Houston. Campaign website.

Beto O'Rourke, Democrat: O’Rourke is serving his third term in the U.S House of Representatives representing District 16, which includes El Paso.  More on O'Rourke.

Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Plano, is retiringafter 26 years in Congress. The 86-year-old Vietnam veteran spent seven years as a prisoner of war in Hanoi, and penned an op-ed criticizing Donald Trump’s criticism of POWs during last year’s presidential election. Texas’ 3rd Congressional District covers a big chunk of Collin County, including McKinney, Plano, Frisco and the Collin County portion of Dallas.

Adam Bell, Democrat: Bell is a resident of Allen. This is his second time to run for office. Campaign website.

Lorie Burch, Democrat: A Dallas-based attorney, Burch launched her own law firm in Plano in 2004. She grew up in Plano and volunteered with local LGBT-rights advocacy organizations.  Campaign website.

Sam Johnson, Democrat: This Sam Johnson is not the Sam Johnson who held the seat for 26 years. He’s a commercial lawyer from Plano. More on Johnson.

Medrick Yhap, Democrat: Yhap has filed using Allen for his campaign. Campaign website.

Alex Donkervoet, Republican: Donkervoet filed from Dallas. Campaign website.

David Niederkorn, Republican: Niederkoern filed from Richardson. Campaign website.

Van Taylor, Republican:The state senator is an Iraq War veteran who has served in the Texas Legislature since 2010. Texas Monthly named him one of the Legislature’s worst lawmakers in 2013. In 2006, he ran unsuccessfully for Congress in the Waco-area 17th District. More on Taylor.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling is retiring after 14 years in Congress. The Dallas Republican is chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee. Texas’ 5th Congressional District includes part of southeast Dallas County, including Mesquite, and stretches cross Anderson, Cherokee, Henderson and Kaufman counties.

Danny Campbell, Republican: Campbell is a longtime Texas resident and served in the U.S. Army, according to his campaign website.

Sam Deen, Republican: Deen is a veteran and small business owner from Canton. More on Deen.

Lance Gooden, Republican: Gooden is currently a state representative for Texas House District 4. 

Charles Lingerfelt, Republican: Lingerfelt is from Dallas. Based on his campaign Facebook page, he has run for office in the past. 

Bunni Pounds, Republican: Pounds is a former Hensarling campaign manager and fundraiser who’s spent more than a decade raising money for GOP candidates. Hensarling has endorsed her bid to replace him.  More on Pounds.

Kenneth Sheets, Republican:The Dallas lawyer spent six years in the Texas House before losing his seat in 2016. Sheets is a Marine veteran who served in Iraq. More on Sheets.

David Williams, Republican: Williams has filed to run, listing a Tyler address for his campaign. Campaign website.

Jason Wright, Republican: Wright has filed to run, listing a Mineola address for campaign. Campaign website.

Dan Wood, Democrat:Wood is a lawyer based in Terrell, where he grew up. He ran unsuccessfully for a seat on Texas’ 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2012. Wood’s campaign website.

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, is retiring after a nude selfie he sent to a girlfriend went public and an Arlington activist sent the Fort Worth Star-Telegram a sexually suggestive message thread with Barton. He’s been in office for more than three decades, making him the longest-serving Texan in Congress.

John W. Duncan, Democrat: Duncan works for Prism Health North Texas, which serves people with HIV/AIDS. The TCU graduate is a lawyer who lives in Arlington.  Campaign website.

Jana Lynne Sanchez, Democrat: A former journalist and public relations consultant, Sanchez traces her connections to the district to the 1950s, when her migrant worker grandparents settled in Ellis County. Once a fundraiser for California Democrats, Sanchez has collected several endorsements and raised more than $100,000.  Campaign website.

Levii Shocklee, Democrat: Shocklee is an Arlington-based Democrat and Navy veteran. Campaign website.

Justin Snider, Democrat: Snider owns a locksmith business in Arlington, where he grew up. Campaign website.

Ruby Fae Woolridge, Democrat: Woolridge is a retired school counselor from Arlington. This isn’t her first time at the rodeo: She challenged Barton for this seat in 2016, won the Democratic nomination but lost the general election.  Campaign website.

Ken Cope, Republican: Cope, who filed from Arlington, is a retired aerospace executive. Campaign website

Shawn Dandridge, Republican: Dandridge filed using an address in Kennedale for his campaign. Campaign website.

Thomas Dillingham, Republican: Dillingham is a technology consultant, who filed from North Richland Hills. Campaign website.

Shannon Dubberly, Republican: Dubberly is a former counterterrorism consultant who works in oil and gas. Campaign website.

Jake Ellzey, Republican: Ellzey was a Navy pilot for 20 years and serves on the Texas Veterans Commission. A small businessman from Midlothian, he ran unsuccessfully for the Texas Legislature in 2014. More on Ellzey.

Deborah Gagliardi, Republican: Gagliardi runs an architecture and engineering firm in Arlington. She previously ran for Arlington City Council and lost. Campaign Facebook page.

Kevin Harrison, Republican: Harrison, who filed from Mansfield, is a pastor and Bible college founder. Campaign website.

Mel Hassell, Republican: Hassell filed using an address in Dallas for his campaign.

Mark Mitchell, Republican: Mitchell ran as a Republican for stcate representative in 1998 and 2000 as well as for U.S. House District 33 last year, according to his campaign website. He's a physician, attorney, home builder and small business owner. His campaign address is in Fort Worth.

Troy Ratterree, Republican: Ratterree filed using an address in Burleson for his campaign. Campaign website.

Ron Wright, Republican: Wright's been the Tarrant County tax assessor-collector since 2011. Before that, he was Barton's chief of staff. He also previously served on the Arlington City Council and as mayor pro-tem. More on Wright.

Paul Brown, Republican: The Marine veteran lives in Richardson. Before returning to Texas in 2014, Brown worked as a civilian intelligence analyst in the Washington D.C. area.  Campaign website

Pete Sessions, Republican:The Dallas incumbent is facing a number of Democratic challengers for his seat. His is one of three Texas congressional districts that favored Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016. He has not had a tough re-election fight in well over a decade. More on Sessions.

Colin Allred, Democrat: Civil rights attorney and former NFL linebacker Allred was born and raised in North Dallas. The 34-year-old worked in the Obama administration in the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He was the first to challenge to Sessions for 2018. More on Allred.

Ron Marshall, Democrat: Marshall is a retired aerospace engineer and Air Force veteran.  Campaign website.

Todd Maternowski, Democrat: Maternowski says he grew up in a conservative family and thought he'd be Republican for life, but he changed his affiliation around 15 to 20 years ago, when "the GOP took a sharp turn for the worse." He filed from Dallas.  Campaign website.

Ed Meier, Democrat: Meier spent three years at the State Department under Hillary Clinton. He moved back to Dallas to work for the education nonprofit Big Thought, where he is interim director. He took a break to advise Clinton on policy during her presidential campaign. More on Meier.

George Rodriguez, Democrat:Rodriguez is an immigration lawyer who grew up in Dallas. Campaign website.

Lillian Salerno, Democrat:Salerno worked on rural business development issues at the Department of Agriculture as an Obama administration appointee. Before that, she launched a medical device company in Little Elm that developed retractable needles to improve health care worker safety. Campaign website.

Brett Shipp, Democrat: The longtime North Texas journalist left his job as an investigative reporter for WFAA on Dec. 6 to run against Sessions. His late entry puts him behind his other competitors in fundraising. More on Shipp.

Copyright 2020 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

Molly Evans is the Assistant Producer of Digital News at KERA. She writes, edits and curates news content on KERANews.org. She also maintains the Twitter feed for KERA News. Molly previously served as Digital Coordinator, maintaining KERA’s websites and various digital platforms as well as designing graphics, participating in digital projects and site builds and offering technical assistance to the staff. She has worked at KERA since January 2015. Before KERA, Molly interned with This Land Press in Tulsa, TulsaPeople magazine World Literature Today in Norman and the Oklahoma Gazette in Oklahoma City, where she also freelanced. She also wrote and edited for The Oklahoma Daily, the award-winning student newspaper at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. Molly graduated from OU with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in Spanish in December 2014. She was awarded Outstanding Senior in Journalism from the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Molly is a native of Tulsa, Okla.
Christopher Connelly is a KERA reporter based in Fort Worth. Christopher joined KERA after a year and a half covering the Maryland legislature for WYPR, the NPR member station in Baltimore. Before that, he was a Joan B. Kroc Fellow at NPR – one of three post-graduates who spend a year working as a reporter, show producer and digital producer at network HQ in Washington, D.C.
Krystina Martinez is an assistant producer at KERA. She wakes up bright and early to produce local content for Morning Edition and KERANews.org. She also co-produces The Friday Conversation, a weekly interview segment with North Texas newsmakers.