The 2022 political cycle officially starts tomorrow with primaries happening across the state of Texas in both parties. We’re going to give you a look at some of the key ones happening statewide and in congressional seats.
Governor and LG
At the top of the statewide tickets, it’s maybe not as interesting as was once hoped. Beto O’Rourke cleared the field for Democrats once he announced he was running for Governor and faces only nominal opposition. The same can be said for Republican Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who also faces just nominal opponents. Polling in both sees both cruising, so that’s all that needs to be said there.
Polling in the GOP primary for Governor also, unsurprisingly, sees Governor Greg Abbott cruising as well. But the cast of characters around him make this interesting. Far-right businessman Don Huffines has put millions of his own money into the race. It has so far gotten him a high point of only 14% in all polls. He has routinely been outpolled by Allen West, a candidate arguably less serious than Huffines. Abbott has continued to poll at 60% and it seems very unlikely for him to be forced into a runoff.
Really the Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor is the only intriguing one. Three candidates are running, all officials in their own right. State Rep. Michelle Beckley is running after being drawn out in redistricting, while Democratic Vice Chair Carl Brailey and Democratic Finance Director Mike Collier are also running.
Based on endorsements and polling, Collier seems to be the early favorite. He has numerous endorsements from state legislators, but he hasn’t touched a majority in polls yet. This one seems most likely to head to a runoff between Collier and one of Beckley and Brailey, barring a real surprise.
Attorney General and Railroad Commission
Two other statewide primaries, both on the Republican side, are very interesting. Most know already about the challenges to incumbent Attorney General Ken Paxton. Paxton has come under fire for controversies surrounding ethics issues and legal issues. Land Commissioner and Bush family talisman George P. Bush is his closest opponent, while Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman is right behind him. Controversial Congressman Louie Gohmert is also running.
Most polling sees Paxton held under the 50% necessary to avoid a runoff, with Bush as his most likely opponent. This is a key race to watch, as Paxton’s legal and ethics issues have made him a controversial candidate. If he is forced to a runoff, it becomes possible his role as nominee comes under threat, likely from Bush. I would really pay attention to this one Tuesday night.
I also want to give a nod to the GOP primary for the Railroad Commission seat. Incumbent Republican Wayne Christian has drawn four challengers, and sources in Texas tell us he is in deep trouble of being forced to a runoff. Against who, we do not know. But we’d keep an eye on this primary Tuesday night.
Key GOP Congressional primaries
There are really four key GOP primaries to keep an eye on. Three of them already have prohibitive favorites that could avoid a runoff. In the 1st district, with Louie Gohmert retiring, judge Nathaniel Moran from Smith County is the expected favorite. We’ve heard to expect margins generally unseen in open primaries in seats like this.
We’ve also been told to expect strong victories for Monica De La Cruz and Wesley Hunt in their primaries for the 15th and 38th districts, respectively.
The truly interesting one is the primary to replace Kevin Brady in the new 8th. It’s a safe Republican seat and has devolved into a proxy war between wings of the Texas Republican Party. Former Navy SEAL Morgan Luttrell and former Ted Cruz aide Christian Collins are the two favorites in this race. Luttrell is backed by Dan Crenshaw, Dan Patrick and Rick Perry and the CLF. Collins is backed by Ted Cruz and such far-right characters as Majorie Taylor Greene, Wendy Rodgers, and Mike Lindell.
But it truly is another proxy war between Crenshaw and Cruz, who are clearly fighting each other to be the face of the Texas Republican Party. This primary is almost assuredly heading to the May runoff, but it will be interesting to see who finishes first and who finishes second.
We’ve also been told to keep an eye on Van Taylor’s primary in the 3rd district. He is apparently facing a spirited challenge from former Collin County judge Keith Self. Taylor isn’t expected to lose, but he may come close to being forced into a runoff.
Key Congressional Democratic Primaries
There are four primaries to watch on the Democratic side Tuesday night. First in the new 15th, Democrats have a wide array of first time candidates looking to replace Vicente Gonzalez, who moved to the new 34th. We haven’t heard much about this primary, but businesswoman Michelle Vallejo seems to be the favored candidate of the left in this seat. She’s garnered endorsements from both Elizabeth Warren and the Working Families Party branch in Texas. We expect it to head to a May runoff.
Then there is the well known rematch between Henry Cuellar and Jessica Cisneros happening in the new 28th district. This is the classical Blue Dog vs. progressive battle that we’ve seen in Democratic primaries before. There are key differences this time from 2020, though. One big one is that the new 28th takes in more of suburban San Antonio, which could help out the more progressive Cisneros. There’s also the added item of Cueller being under some form of federal investigation for corruption, a blow for sure to the incumbent. It also isn’t a 1v1 race like last time, with a minor candidate in Tannya Benavides. The one poll we have shows Cisneros with a one-point lead, but it will throw a wrench into things if this goes to a runoff and both have to campaign for an extra two months.
In the race to replace Eddie Bernice Johnson in the very safe Democratic 30th district, Jasmine Crockett is the overwhelming favorite. The state representative got Johnson’s endorsement early on, and is likely to avoid any issues of a runoff. If she is forced into a runoff, that would be one of the bigger surprises of the night.
Finally there’s the race in the new 35th district. Greg Casar, an Austin councilman, is the clear favorite so far, but it is unsure if he will have to deal with a runoff. He does have some decent competition in state representative Eddie Rodriguez and former San Antonio councilwoman Rebecca Viagran. Polling has shown Casar close to, but not above 50% with Rodriguez in second place. The thing to watch here is whether this continues into May or whether Cesar can start decorating his office in Congress.