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Challenger Teare Holds Commanding Lead over Incumbent Ogg in Harris County DA Race

UH Hobby School Survey Finds U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez Strong Favorites in Democratic Primary Election

Sean Teare is leading incumbent Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg by a nearly three-to-one margin in the upcoming Democratic primary election, according to the latest survey from the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston.

Among likely voters, 59% plan to vote for Teare, while 21% support Ogg. Another 20% said they are unsure.

Three Democratic primary races seem decided: Challengers Colin Allred for the U.S. Senate contest and Sean Teare as candidate for Harris County district attorney, and incumbent Ed Gonzalez for Harris County sheriff. Other outcomes are less clear. Election day is March 5. Early voting is underway.   Photo credit: Edmund Dantès / Pexels

“Kim Ogg has been at odds with some members of the local Democratic party, most notably in her interactions with the Harris County Commissioners Court,” said Renée Cross, senior executive director of the Hobby School and one of the researchers for the project. “That hasn’t gone unnoticed by some primary voters. Others may be concerned about well-publicized issues in the courts.”

Support for Ogg is highest among independent voters who intend to vote in the Democratic primary election, with 31% supporting Ogg. That compares to 44% of independents who back Teare.

The survey, which was released today, also found strong support for U.S. Rep. Colin Allred in his race for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, with 66% of Harris County primary voters saying they will vote for Allred, compared to 7% for his top rival, state Sen. Roland Gutierrez. Harris County is expected to account for one out of every six votes cast statewide in the March 2024 Democratic primary election.

Almost two-thirds of voters, or 63%, plan to vote for incumbent Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez. None of the other candidates in that race drew more than 2% of survey respondents.

The primary is March 5. Early voting starts one week from today.

Mark P. Jones, political science fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and senior research fellow at the Hobby School, said the researchers found high numbers of undecided voters in some of the lower-profile countywide races, suggesting those candidates have struggled to gain voters’ attention in a busy electoral year.

“More than half of voters are undecided for Harris County attorney, and fully two-thirds are unsure who they will support for tax assessor-collector, a race without an incumbent on the ballot,” Jones said. Still, he noted, 41% of voters back incumbent County Attorney Christian Menefee, while his only opponent, Umeka “UA” Lewis, drew support from 7%, giving Menefee a substantial lead.

“Candidates in the race for Harris County tax assessor-collector face a more formidable challenge with the top candidate, tax attorney Annette Ramirez, leading with 12% of the vote and the rest of the challengers in single digits,” he said. Other candidates in that race are Danielle Keys Bess, 7%; Jerry Davis, 6%; Desiree Broadnax, 5%; and Claude Cummings III, 3%. 

Among the survey’s other findings:

  • Gonzalez, the county sheriff, has the highest approval ratings among the three incumbents on the ballot this spring. 75% of Democratic primary voters view him favorably, compared to 8% who view him unfavorably.
  • Ogg has the lowest approval ratings, with 29% viewing her favorably and 61% unfavorably.
  • 47% of voters view Menefee favorably, with just 3% having an unfavorable impression. 50% say they don’t know enough about him to have an opinion.

The full report is available on the Hobby School website. Future reports will examine Harris County Democratic primary races for congressional and state legislative positions and Democratic primary voter evaluations of leading Houston-area Democratic political figures.

The survey asked 1,400 likely Harris County Democratic primary election voters about their preferences regarding candidates in the upcoming primary election. It was conducted between Feb. 7 and Feb. 15, 2024, in English and Spanish. The margin of error is +/- 2.5%.

— story by Jeannie Kever

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