Republican primary challenges have kept a lower profile, though the Campaign for Primary Accountability has also spent about $167,000 against 89-year-old GOP Rep. Ralph Hall in the 4th District, north of Dallas. Steve Clark held Hall under 60 percent of the primary vote in 2010, and he has more help this time, though Hall still outspent him and National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Pete Sessions has confidently predicted that his colleagues in Texas's Republican delegation will all win renomination. Lamar Smith (21st District) and Kenny Marchant also face minor primary challenges.
The new Democratic-leaning 33rd and 35th Districts will provide different tests of minority influence in the party. In the Dallas/Ft. Worth-based 33rd, a crowded contest may come down to whether a viable Hispanic candidate can finally drive Hispanic voters to the primary polls in a new majority-Latino district. That's what Domingo Garcia is hoping, while African-American state legislator Marc Veasey will bank partly on a black population that has historically overperformed its share of the population in primaries, though a handful of other candidates cloud the picture there. In the 35th, Anglo Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett faces a challenge from two Latina Democrats in another new, majority-Latino district stretching from Austin to San Antonio, but Doggett has a strong claim as the candidate of choice for Hispanic Democrats after a long career of liberal advocacy in Congress.
The 33rd District is one of many open seats with crowded primary fields that are likely to whittle down to runoff contests. Democrats will challenge the GOP-leaning 14th District with ex-Rep. Nick Lampson, but the real action is on the Republican side of the Gulf Coast primary, where more than 10 people saw the district's Republican lean and decided to try to succeed retiring Rep. Ron Paul. The same goes for Republicans in the 35th District, based in Liberty, and the Democrats in the 34th District, which covers the southern Gulf Coast and the eastern terminus of the border with Mexico.
Look for many of these districts to enter the news again in July, when runoffs will likely decide the party nominees. Considering the partisan gulf in nearly every district, though, don't expect too much House news to emanate from Texas after then.