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Runoff pits former Rep. Sekula Gibbs against Texas Republican delegation

A former Republican congresswoman will have to take on the Texas GOP establishment in a runoff that highlights the duels set up by Tuesday’s primaries in Texas and Ohio.

Four incumbents facing spirited challenges — Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), Ron Paul (R-Texas), Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) and Ralph HallRalph Moody HallUpton becomes first member of Congress to vote to impeach two presidents John Ratcliffe is the right choice for director of national intelligence — and for America Rising star Ratcliffe faces battle to become Trump's intel chief MORE (R-Texas) — all won Tuesday. The parties also learned who the nominees would be in several races that are expected to be highly competitive this year.

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One major primary remained unresolved and is headed for a heated runoff battle between the state’s delegation and one of their former, albeit brief, colleagues.

Just hours after the GOP runoff was set in Rep. Nick Lampson’s (D-Texas) district, congressional Republicans from the Lone Star State were lining up behind former Senate aide Pete Olson, who served as Sen. John CornynJohn CornynOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Dakota Access pipeline to remain in operation despite calls for shutdown | Biden hopes to boost climate spending by B | White House budget proposes .4B for environmental justice 2024 GOP White House hopefuls lead opposition to Biden Cabinet Number of migrants detained at southern border reaches 15-year high: reports MORE’s (R-Texas) chief of staff. Sources said they began preparing a fundraising letter for members to sign and readied a campaign against former Rep. Shelley Sekula Gibbs (R).

Sekula Gibbs, who served for two months after winning a special election but losing a write-in campaign in a concurrent general election in November 2006, finished first with 30 percent and raised the most money, pulling in $1.1 million through mid-February.

But Olson’s ties to the Texas delegation — he has also worked for former Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas) — should help him rally GOP members who were already worried about Sekula Gibbs. Her time in Washington featured a staff walkout and brewed lots of disenchantment.

A GOP source with ties to Texas said its members don’t like Sekula Gibbs and will do what it takes to prevent her from winning the nomination. That includes endorsing Olson and directing money to his campaign.

The source said Sekula Gibbs “left a bitter taste in a lot people’s mouths with her bizarre and erratic behavior, and the Texas delegation realizes that she is not a viable option in the general election.”

Sekula Gibbs has already been hitting Olson for being a Washington insider, running an ad that focuses on his years in Washington and his home in the capital suburbs.

She said Olson’s ties to Washington are important parts of what voters need to know about him and that any action against her by the delegation “reaffirms that he has Washington connections and that the voice for the people here in District 22 will be me.”

Olson beat out four other well-funded candidates to gain the runoff with 21 percent. The runoff will be held April 8.

In the Texas Senate primaries, state Rep. Rick Noriega narrowly avoided a runoff by taking 51 percent of the vote in a four-person Democratic race, and Cornyn easily won his party’s re-nomination.

Cornyn did yield 19 percent of the vote to Larry Kilgore, who advocates Texas seceding from the United States.
Hall and Paul both beat back primary challenges with at least 70 percent, while Kucinich and Schmidt each took more than 50. Kucinich barely made the benchmark, though, and saw four candidates split the rest of the vote, led by Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman at 35 percent.

Three of the candidates will be heavy favorites in November. Schmidt, however, faces a rematch with doctor Victoria Wulsin, the Democratic candidate who turned away a primary challenge from attorney Steve Black with ease. Schmidt edged Wulsin, 50-49, in 2006.

Several other big match-ups were also set in Ohio, a battleground state in the race for control of the House.

State Sen. Kirk Schuring had to wait until Wednesday morning before finding out he survived a potential upset by Ashland County Commissioner Matt Miller. Miller, who took 42 percent in a primary against outgoing Rep. Ralph Regula (R) in 2006, led most of the night but ultimately fell, 47-42, after Schuring’s base in Stark County reported its votes.

Schuring had Regula’s endorsement and lots of institutional support. He will face state Sen. John Boccieri (D), who won his primary, 64-36, in a general election race that could turn into a battleground without Regula in it.

“In the general election, the county that came through for me in this primary is the very same county that represents 60 percent of the vote,” Schuring said. “So I think it puts us in good stead for the general election.”

Longtime Ohio Agriculture Commissioner Fred Dailey won a three-way race with 39 percent and will challenge freshman Rep. Zack Space (D-Ohio). Dailey must now raise significantly more money to compete against one of the GOP’s top targets.

In another top race in Texas, Bexar County Commissioner Lyle Larson handled upstart attorney Francisco “Quico” Canseco, 62-38. Larson will have to overcome an ethnicity barrier as a non-Hispanic white candidate in a 65-percent Latino district.

Canseco on Wednesday stuck by his campaign assertion that Larson can’t win the district. He also declined to offer his endorsement so soon after his loss.

“I’m not going to go there right now,” he said. “I’m licking my wounds and trying to gather my senses about me. Just rest assured … that I love my party and I love my country and I love South Texas, and I’m going to be very, very engaged in all those activities.”

In other races to watch in Ohio, state Sen. Steve Stivers (R) easily won his primary and will face Franklin County Commissioner and 2006 candidate Mary Jo Kilroy (D) for retiring Rep. Deborah Pryce’s (R) seat; state Sen. Steve Austria (R) will be a favorite for retiring Rep. David Hobson’s (R) seat against attorney Sharen Swartz Neuhardt (D); and retired appeals judge Bill O’Neill will match up with Rep. Steven LaTourette (R).

The host of television’s “Texas Justice,” Democrat Larry Joe Doherty, also won his primary to face Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas). Doherty has raised $450,000 but faces an uphill climb in a heavily conservative district.