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H-Town Showdown: Four of Houston’s Hottest Races (Updated)

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Update (10:15)

Thus ends the short saga of reformer Pat Lykos, Harris County DA. The Houston Chronicle has called it for Mike Anderson. With 56 percent of precincts reporting, Anderson leads with 63 percent to Lykos’s 37.

Lykos may have been hurt by last week’s news about graduate of her controversial DIVERT program, which gives a treatment plan and probation to people convicted of DWIs. Erick Charles Erminger completed the DIVERT program in 2009, then was charged last week in his girlfriend’s murder. He was drunk when he allegedly strangled her. On Friday, Anderson remarked, “It’s a shame that (Erminger) didn’t get the treatment he needed.” Lykos blasted Anderson for politicizing the tragedy.

 

Update (9:38 p.m.)

It looks like Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos may not be back for more. She’s getting trounced in early voting with 35 percent to Mike Anderson’s 65 percent.

Meanwhile, Borris Miles, House District 146’s purportedly hard-partying Democratic incumbent, may hold on to his seat by more than eight votes this time. He leads Al Edwards with 57 percent in early voting, though that race could tighten as precincts report.

Over in Fort Bend, Rick Miller has confounded those who thought HD 26 would presage the ascendance of the minority Republican. The one white male in the four-way race has taken home 38 percent of the early vote, a substantial lead over Sonal Buchar (22 percent) and Jacquie Chaumette (27 percent) who were expected to end up in a run-off.

Also unexpectedly, Gene Wu has taken a dramatic lead in HD 137, picking up 45 percent of the early vote. He may even avoid a run-off with Smith and Madden, who have 25 and 20 percent respectively.

 

Posted earlier:

Tonight, the rest of the Observer staff and I will be live-blogging the primary as results come in. The four races I’ll have my eye on:

Harris County District Attorney: Pat Lykos vs. Mike Anderson—Will scandal and two grand jury investigations make besieged reformist Pat Lykos a one-term DA? Nostalgic long-time prosecutor and judge Mike Anderson hopes so. Background from Dateline: Houston here.

House District 146: Borris Miles vs. Al Edwards—Borris and Al, Democrats and demonstrably characters, are facing off for the fourth time in this primary. Last time, Miles won by only eight votes. This year, he outspent Edwards eightfold. Will it matter? Background from Dateline: Houston here.

House District 26: Charlie Howard’s retirement leaves a four-way Republican scramble for the rapidly evolving Fort Bend district. The two front-runners are both women of color: Sonal Bhuchar, former board president of Fort Bend ISD, is from India: Jacquie Chaumette, mayor pro-tem of Sugar Land, is from St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. They spent similarly and have similar cash on hand—unlike their opponents, who are considerably less flush. Rick Miller, former chairman of the Republican Party of Fort Bend, is down to his last five grand, and Diana Miller, real estate agent (no relation to Rick) brought in only $100 in contributions during the last reporting period. This race will likely end in a run-off between Bhuchar and Chaumette—and presage things to come. Susan-Smith Richardson has more here.

House District 137: The counterpart to HD 26 is this west Houston district, where four Democrats are vying replace retiring school finance guru Scott Hochberg. At this point, it’s a toss-up. Joseph Carlos Madden and Jamaal Smith are former Capitol staffers, Gene Wu is a Harris County prosecutor and Sarah Winkler is a Alief Independent School District board member, all with adequate funding and experience. The minority-opportunity district is likely to go Democratic in November.

Stay tuned!

Emily DePrang is a staff writer at The Texas Observer where she covers criminal justice and public health. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic and Salon.com, and she’s a former nonfiction editor of the Sonora Review. She’s holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Arizona and a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. In 2013, she was a National Health Journalism Fellow; in 2012 she won the Sigma Delta Chi award for public service in magazine journalism.