The Primary Runoff Election, which was originally scheduled for May 26, has been postponed to July 14 with early voting starting on June 29 and ending on July 10. In July, voters will decide between two candidates in a number of different races that, for most candidates, began more than six months ago. As with the Primary Election, voters must select the political party of their choice and will not be able to vote in any of the opposing party’s races. This will change in the November General Election when voters will be able to vote for anyone on the ballot, no matter their political party. HAR’s two Recommended Candidates in next month’s Primary Runoff Election are State Representative Harold V. Dutton Jr. of District 142 and State Representative Anna Eastman of District 148.
Rep. Dutton is one of the Texas House of Representatives longest tenured members, serving for more than 36 years. He is a lifelong Houstonian who was born in Fifth Ward. Dutton earned a BBA in Accounting at Texas Southern University and has since been named a “Distinguished Alumnus” by the school. He later went on to earn a law degree from Thurgood Marshall School of Law. After college, Dutton went to work for Conoco Inc., where he held multiple management positions. After leaving Conoco, Dutton began operating an independent TV station called TV-67. First elected in 1984, Rep. Dutton has won re-election an astonishing 17 times and is facing his toughest challenge of his long career in the lower chamber as this is the first time he has been forced into a Primary Runoff Election. During his time in the legislature, Rep. Dutton has had numerous achievements such as passing legislation for Texas’ annual sales tax holiday and revamping the juvenile justice system. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Committee on Juvenile Justice and Family Issues, and as a member of the Public Education Committee. Dutton will face Houston District B City Councilman Jerry Davis who is very well known in the community as he has been serving on City Council for more than eight years. CM Davis’ ability to campaign has been hindered by the fact that he has been forced to continue serving on City Council while the lawsuit in District B between the two candidates from last November’s election is completed. This particular race has been in the news a lot recently due to the story about the “ghost candidate” coming to light after the Primary Election. In the March Primary, Rep. Dutton received 45.3% of the vote to Davis’ 25.3% with the so called “ghost candidate” Natasha Ruiz coming in third with 20.5%. With all of these factors taken into consideration, we expect a Dutton victory.
State Representative Anna Eastman is a newcomer to the Texas legislature but not to leadership. Eastman has been a community leader in the Houston Heights since relocating there from Austin more than twenty years ago. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Eastman earned a bachelor’s degree in History. She went on to obtain a Master of Social Work from Our Lady of the Lake University. In 2002, Eastman co-founded a nonprofit called the 11 ½ Street Foundation which worked to recognize outstanding veteran teachers and award college scholarships to at risk graduates from Heights and Northside High Schools. Before running for House District 148, Rep. Eastman served two four year terms on the Houston Independent School District Board of Trustees as the District 1 Trustee. During her tenure on the HISD School Board, she served as Board President and Chair of the Audit Committee as well as the state and federal legislative liaison. Under her leadership, HISD passed the 2012 Bond, put a laptop computer in the hands of every high schooler in the district and opened new magnet schools. The July 14 Primary will be Rep. Eastman’s fourth election in just over seven months meaning she has now been campaigning for nearly a year. She first ran in the November 5, 2019 Special General Election that was held to replace State Representative Jessica Farrar, who retired. Eastman finished with the highest vote total in a field of 15 candidates and advanced to the January 28, 2020 Special General Runoff Election where she faced Republican Luis LaRotta, which she won easily as District 148 is historically Democratic. Eastman then had to run again in the March 3, 2020 Primary Election where she was again the highest vote getter but was forced into a runoff. On July 14 Eastman will face Penny Shaw in the Primary Runoff and if she is successful she will move on to face LaRotta once again in the November General Election. This means she will likely have had to win five elections within a year to secure her seat in Texas’ 87th Legislature in 2021. It has been quite a road for Eastman already and HAR looks forward to working with her for years to come.