DemDaily: The First Primary of The Season. Texas

February 1, 2022

Texas will hold the first primary of the election season on March 1st and the first election using the state’s new Republican-drawn political map.

Democrats and Republicans will 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.

The 15 seats on the State Board of Education are also up, as well as seats on the Texas Supreme Court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the Appellate courts. Municipal, local school board and ballot measures are also on the ballot in Texas' 254 counties.

The Texas primary elections will be held March 1st. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote in the primary, the top two vote-getters will compete in a May 24th runoff. 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.

The Lone Star State
Texas was dominated by Democratic politics for over 100 years until the late 1990's when Governor George Bush (R) was re-elected and Republicans swept all statewide offices in 1998. The state's Republican control became complete in 2002 when the GOP won the state House for the first time since Reconstruction.

Texas has not elected a Democrat in a presidential election since Jimmy Carter beat Gerald Ford in 1976. The southern border state delivered a 52.06% to 46.48% victory for Donald Trump over Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election, and a coveted 38 electoral votes - the second largest in the nation.

Republicans control all statewide Texas offices and both houses of the state legislature.

The current congressional delegation consists of 36 members, with 23 Republicans and 13 Democrats. Under the new GOP-drawn redistricting map, signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott (R) on October 25, Texas picked up two new US House seats for a total of 38.

On December 6, 2021, the US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit claiming that Texas’ newly enacted congressional and legislative maps violate the Voting Rights Act by failing to account for the growth of Latino and Black populations. Several other lawsuits have been filed over specific legislative districts.

On The Ballot

Governor: Incumbent Gregg Abbott (R), who is seeking a third term, is polling far ahead off his seven primary challengers, which include former state Senator Don Huffines and former Texas GOP chairman Allen West. On the Democratic ticket, former El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke, who earned national recognition after his 2018 US Senate and 2020 presidential bids, is favored over four other contenders.

Lieutenant Governor: Incumbent Dan Patrick (R), who is seeking a third term, is facing five lesser-known primary opponents. Mike Collier, who was the Democratic nominee against Patrick in 2018, former State Representative Michelle Beckley, and former Vice Chair of the Texas Democratic Party Cara Brailey are facing off in the Democratic primary.

Attorney General: Incumbent Ken Paxton (R), who is seeking a third term, is under fire for a high-profile securities fraud indictment and FBI investigation into claims of malfeasance in office. He is facing three credible primary opponents in Congressman Louie Gohmert, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush and former Texas Supreme Court Judge Eva Guzman.

Those competing for the Democratic nomination include former Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski, Dallas civil rights lawyer Lee Merritt, Brownsville lawyer Rochelle Garza and two others.

Comptroller: Incumbent Glenn Hegar, who is running for a third term, is facing business owner Mark Goloby in the Republican primary. Accountant Janet Dudding, attorney Tim Mahoney and author Angel Vega are facing off in the Democratic primary.

Agriculture Commissioner: Two-term incumbent Sid Miller is facing rancher Carey Counsil and State Representative James White in the Republican primary. Attorney Susan Hays and businessman Ed Ireson are facing off in the Democratic primary.

Public Lands Commissioner: In the open seat being vacated by George P. Bush (R), who is running for Attorney General, Jay Kleberg, whose family owns one of the largest ranches in the country, is facing three opponents in the Democratic primary. Eight Republicans, including state Senator Dawn Buckingham and San Antonio activist Weston Martinez, are also running to replace Bush.

Railroad Commissioner: One seat on the three-board commission is up, where incumbent Republican Wayne Christian is seeking reelection, facing four primary challengers. Democratic party staffer Luke Warford is the only Democrat running.

Three seats on the Texas Supreme Court are up for reelection, as well as three on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and 18 on the Intermediate Appellate Court. All 15 State Board of Education seats are up in 2022.

U.S. House
Of the current 36 Congressional Districts (23 Republicans, 13 Democrats), 31 incumbents are running for reelection and five are retiring. Texas picked up an additional two seats under redistricting for a total of 38.

Races to watch: Congressional District 15, currently held by Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (D), now running in the safely Democratic 34th CD after redistricting. Nine Republicans have thrown their hats in the race, as well as six Democrats.

District 28, where conservative nine-term Congressman Henry Cuellar is targeted following a recent FBI raid of his home and campaign headquarters in Laredo as a part of an investigation of several people with ties to the former Soviet nation of Azerbaijan.

Cuellar is being challenged in the Democratic primary by educator Tannya Benavides and attorney Jessica Cisneros. Seven Republicans are running in the Republican primary.

State Legislature
Republicans hold an 18-13 majority in the State Senate and an 85-65 majority in the State House.

Races to watch: House District 13, where State Representative Ben Leman (R) is retiring. Two Republicans, Angelia Orr and Dennis Wilson are vying for his seat, as well as Democrats Cedric Davis and Cuevas Peacock. House District 37, previously held by Representative Alex Dominguez (D) and which was redrawn into House District 38, going from 64% Democrat to 53%. Republicans Janie Lopez and George Rivera will face off in the primary, while Ruben Cortez Jr. Frank Puente and Luis Villarreal Jr. run in the Democratic primary. House District 52: Currently represented by Representative James Talarico (D), who was gerrymandered out of his district and is now running in the 50th district. In the now favorable GOP seat, four Republicans are competing in the primary, while Luis Echegaray is the only Democrat running.

Key Election Dates
Deadline to Request Absentee Ballot: February 18
Early Vote: February 14-25, 2022
Primary: March 1, 2022
Primary Runoff: May 24, 2022
General Election: November 8, 2022

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Kimberly Scott

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Sources: Texas SOS, Texas Tribute, Ballotpedia, The Hill, KVUE, San Antonio Express-News, Texas Candidates, The Texan, Dallas Morning News

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