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Early voting kicks off in Texas. Here are the 2018 congressional races conservatives are watching

The 2018 midterm elections are officially under way today, as Republican primary voters in Texas are now eligible to cast an early ballot for the March 6 election.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, took to Twitter to urge his supporters to vote early.

Now that voting season has begun, conservative voters ought to be paying attention. Control of the U.S Senate hangs in the balance as Democrats seek to erase the razor-thin Republican majority and install Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., as majority leader. Democrats will make a vigorous effort in 2018 to win back the House of Representatives and make Nancy Pelosi the speaker of the House again. Meanwhile, establishment RINOs are gearing up to campaign as conservatives, knowing full well they will betray their promises once they win office, as has happened so many times before.

Who are the best conservative candidates? Which races are winnable?

Conservative voters cannot waste time and energy following every race in the country. It is important to prioritize races where conservatives can make a difference. Activist organizations like the Senate Conservatives Fund, the House Freedom Fund, the Club for Growth, and others work to identify conservative candidates who can win and inform voters of their viability.

Here are the races they are watching, with states listed in order of their primary dates:

Texas – March 6 primary; May 22 runoff

U.S. Senate

Incumbent Senator Ted Cruz is running in his first re-election campaign for Senate. In the Republican primary, Cruz faces a handful of challengers, notably a moderate named Stefano de Stefano, who has criticized Cruz for what he calls “extremist posturing.” Cruz, a conservative champion, has the endorsement of the Senate Conservatives Fund for re-election. He is also supported by the senior senator from Texas, John Cornyn. The leading Democratic candidate to challenge Cruz in November is Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas.

U.S. House of Representatives District 03

Incumbent Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, announced his retirement on January 6, 2018. Running to replace him is state Senator Van Taylor, R-Plano, an Iraq War veteran who has served in both houses of the Texas legislature. Taylor is the heavy favorite to win the primary and has been endorsed by the Club for Growth.

U.S. House of Representatives District 21

Incumbent Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, announced his retirement on November 2, 2017. A total of 18 candidates have filed to run in the Republican primary. Chip Roy leads the field in endorsements, with the support of Sen. Ted Cruz, former Gov. Rick Perry, and conservative groups like the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund. Though Conservative Review does not endorse candidates, Conservative Review senior editor Daniel Horowitz has personally endorsed Roy for Congress.

Pennsylvania – May 15 primary

U.S. Senate

In the Republican primary to challenge incumbent Sen. Bob Casey, D-Penn., President Donald Trump has endorsed Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Penn. A moderate, Barletta has emerged as the consensus candidate among the Pennsylvania Republican Party, also earning the endorsements of Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Penn., former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn., and eleven members of the Pennsylvania delegation in the House of Representatives.

NOTE: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has issued a new congressional map for the state, redrawing several districts and changing the House races there. State Republicans are expected to challenge the new map in court. This article will be updated with Pennsylvania House races when the controversy is resolved.

Montana – June 5 primary

U.S. Senate

Incumbent Democratic Senator Jon Tester faces a tough re-election in Montana, a state Republican Donald Trump won by 20 points in 2016. Republican candidate Matt Rosendale has won the trifecta of conservative Senate endorsements from Sens. Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul. Rosendale is also backed by the Senate Conservatives Fund and by the Club for Growth. Other candidates include former Billings Judge Russ Fagg, Big Sky businessman Troy Downing, state senator and doctor Albert Olszewski, James Dean of Havre and Ron Murray of Belgrade, according to the Independent Record.

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