DemDaily: Texas Primary Results!

March 3, 2022

In the nation's first state primary of 2022, and Texas' first election using the state’s new Republican-drawn political map, the results are far from over, with a majority of statewide primaries going to a runoff on May 24th.

On Tuesday, March 1st, Lone Star Democrats and Republicans went to the polls to choose their candidates for seven statewide seats, including Governor and Lieutenant Governor, as well as each party's nominees for district-based congressional and legislative offices.

Additional elections included 15 seats on the State Board of Education, the Texas Supreme Court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the appellate courts. Municipal, local school board and ballot measures were also on the ballot in Texas' 254 counties.

In Texas primary elections, if no candidate receives a majority of the vote in the primary, the top two vote-getters compete in a runoff, scheduled this year for May 24th. Texas utilizes an open primary system so voters do not have to register with a party in advance in order to participate in that party's primary, but can only vote in one primary and in that same party's runoff.

Governor: Two-term Incumbent Gregg Abbott (R) handily won the GOP primary with 66.5% of the vote, followed by former State Senator Don Huffines (11.9%) and former Texas GOP Chair Allen West (12.3%).

On the Democratic ticket, former El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke, who earned national recognition after his 2018 US Senate and 2020 presidential bids, won with 91.3% over four other contenders: Joy Diaz (3.2%), Michael Cooper (3.0%), Rich Wakeland (1.2%) and Inocencio Barrientez (1.2%).

Lieutenant Governor: Incumbent Dan Patrick (R), who is seeking a third term, easily fended off five lesser-known primary opponents with 76.6% of the vote.

With 95% of votes reported, the Democratic nomination is expected to go to a May 24th runoff between 2018 Democratic nominee Mike Collier, who secured 41.5% and former State Representative Michelle Beckley with 30.2%. Former Vice Chair of the Texas Democratic Party Cara Brailey secured 28.2%.

Texas has not elected a Democrat in a presidential election since Jimmy Carter in 1976. The southern border state delivered a 52.06% to 46.48% victory for Trump over Biden in the 2020 presidential election, along with its coveted 38 electoral votes. Republicans currently control the Governor's mansion and all statewide Texas offices, as well as both houses of the state legislature.

Attorney General: Embattled incumbent Ken Paxton (R), under fire for a high-profile securities fraud indictment and an FBI investigation into claims of malfeasance in office, was unable to secure the necessary 50% to avoid a runoff. The Trump-endorsed Paxton, who garnered 42.7% of the primary vote, will face Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, who secured a distant 22.8%. Bush is the son of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Former Texas Supreme Court Judge Eva Guzman secured 17.5% and Congressman Louie Gohmert 17%.

The Democratic nomination will also go to a runoff between Brownsville lawyer Rochelle Garza, who secured 43.6% of the vote, and either former Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski (19.6%) or Dallas civil rights lawyer Lee Merritt (19.5%). With less than 1,400 votes separating Jaworski and Merritt, and 5% of the vote still uncounted, the race for the second spot has not been called.

Comptroller: Two-term incumbent Glenn Hegar defeated business owner Mark Goloby 81% to 18.4% in the Republican primary. In the Democratic primary, Accountant Janet Dudding (46.2%) and author Angel Vega (34.7%) appear headed to a runoff.

Agriculture Commissioner: Two-term Republican incumbent Sid Miller secured the GOP nomination with 59% to State Representative James White's 31%. He will face Democratic nominee and attorney Susan Hays in the general election.

Public Lands Commissioner: In the open seat being vacated by George P. Bush (R), State Senator Dawn Buckingham took the field of eight GOP primary contenders with 41.8%, but not enough to avoid a runoff with pastor and educator Tim Westley who secured 14.8% of the vote.

In the four-way Democratic primary, mental health counselor Sandragrace Martinez, with 32%, and rancher Jay Kleberg, with 25.8%, will go to a runoff. Jinny Suh and Michael Lange received 22% and 20.3% of the vote respectively.

Railroad Commissioner: One seat on the three-board commission is up, where incumbent Republican Wayne Christian will now face a runoff (47.3%) with Sarah Stogner (15%). Democratic party staffer Luke Warford was uncontested for the Democratic nomination.

28th Congressional District: In one of the highest-profile elections, conservative pro-life Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar is a top GOP target. The nine-term representative is under scrutiny following a recent FBI raid of his home and campaign headquarters in Laredo in connection an investigation into several people with ties to the state-owned oil company of Azerbaijan.

In a runoff pitted as a battle between moderate and progressive Democrats, Cuellar will face attorney Jessica Cisneros who secured 46.8% to Cuellar's 48.5% in Tuesday's primary. Cisneros has the big name endorsements of Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

All seven Republicans in the GOP primary fell below the 50% threshold for victory, with Cassy Garcia (23.5%) and Sandra Whitten (18%) advancing to a runoff.

In the Third Congressional District, incumbent Van Taylor (R), one of 10 Republicans who voted to support the January 6th investigation, was heading to a runoff with Collin County Judge Keith Self (R), having secured 48.7% to Self's 26.7%.

On March 2nd, however, Taylor announced that he would be suspending his re-election campaign and instead be retiring at the end of the 117th Congress after admitting to an extramarital affair. This means Seif will now face Democratic nominee and real estate consultant Sandeep Srivastava, who won his primary with 62%.

Of the current 36 represented US Congressional Districts, 23 are Republicans and 13 Democrats. Texas picked up an additional two seats under redistricting for a total of 38 Congressional Districts. Of the 31 incumbents running for reelection, 29 won their primaries outright in Tuesday's primary.

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In the open 15th Congressional District, currently held by Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (D) who is now running in the newly redistricted, safely Democratic 34th CD, 2020 GOP nominee Monica De La Cruz won the Republican primary with 56.5% of the vote, defeating eight other contenders.

Gonzalez will face either attorney Ruben Ramirez (28.3%) or businesswoman Michelle Vallejo (20.1%), who advanced to a runoff.

In the open 8th District, vacated by retiring Republican Congressman Kevin Brady (R), former Navy Seal and cognitive scientist Morgan Luttrell triumphed over ten other GOP primary contenders with 52.5%.

Christian Collins, a political operative who had the backing of Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), came in second with 22.2%. Democrat nominee Chris Jones was uncontested.

In a win for progressives, former Austin City Councilmember Greg Casar won the 35th Congressional District Democratic primary with 61.2% of the vote. The open seat was previously held by incumbent Democrat Lloyd Doggett (D) who, after redistricting, is seeking re-election in the 37th District. In the Hispanic-majority district Casar is heavily favored in the general election against the winner of the Republican primary runoff between Dan McQueen and Michael Rodriguez.

The 30th Congressional District Democratic primary is heading to a runoff as well in the solidly blue district to replace retiring Congressman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D). State Representative Jasmine Crockett, who secured 48.5% of the vote and is endorsed by Johnson, faces a runoff against former Biden staffer Jane Hamilton who secured 17%. Crockett will face the winner of the Republican primary runoff between James Harris and James Rodgers.

Republicans hold an 18-13 majority in the State Senate and an 85-65 majority in the State House, and the primaries did little to suggest the needle will move on those numbers.

No state Senate incumbents lost their seats Tuesday night. In the House, one sitting Democrat, Art Fierro, lost, and no incumbent Republicans were knocked out, though a few were forced into runoffs.

Former President Donald Trump made endorsements in 33 Texas races this cycle, from the governor’s race down to Tarrant County district attorney. As of today, all 33 were successful in their primaries, although five have been forced into runoffs.

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Kimberly Scott

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Sources: Texas SOS, New York Times, Washington Post, Texas Tribute, Ballotpedia, The Hill, Texas Candidates, The Texan, Dallas Morning News

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