March 1st Texas Statewide Primaries Preview
With the Texas Primary only two days away, it is time to begin to unpack the races this Tuesday as the 2022 Midterm Season commences.
Texas Republican Governor Primary
Incumbent Greg Abbott faces multiple serious, well-funded challengers as he runs for his third term to be Governor of Texas. So far, Abbott appears to have a strong hold on the race and is well-liked among the Republican Party’s new base of support. Abbott has been one of President Donald Trump’s most steadfast allies during and after his presidency and was consequently accordingly awarded with Trump’s endorsement for this election cycle. Abbott faces two primary challengers, Donald Huffines and Allen West. While Huffines has raised over $10 million this election cycle, he has struggled to gain any traction in polling. Huffines, a principled conservative libertarian, has scored multiple high-profile endorsements—including Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY). West has had slightly more success in polling, and some in President Trump’s inner-circle urged him to switch his endorsement from Abbott to West because of Abbott’s poor job performance (including closing businesses in the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic). The West campaign released an internal poll result showing him ahead of Abbott, creating an uptick in media attention about the race, but other external polls have shown Abbott completely in control. Even though the primary has drawn a considerable amount of national attention and media coverage, Abbott is likely to clear the field and win a majority of the vote on March 1st.
Race Rating: Solid Abbott
Texas Democratic Governor Primary
There is very little competition in the Texas Democratic Governor Primary. Former Representative, US Senate candidate, and Presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke faces no serious competition and will easily roll to a primary victory on March 1st. Beto has over $13 Million in his war chest but has polled significantly behind Abbott in hypothetical general election polling. Especially in such a poor national political environment, Beto will find it difficult to pull off a massive upset this November.
Race Rating: Solid O’Rourke
Texas Republican Attorney General Primary
Incumbent Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) has faced a somewhat surprising amount of resistance in his bid for re-election. Paxton has solidified himself as one of the most loyal elected Trump Republicans in America and won Trump’s coveted endorsement for re-election for the 2022 cycle. Supported by a variety of Republican members of Congress, Paxton filed the Texas Amicus Brief to challenge the 2020 Presidential Election Results at the will of President Trump. Opponents are not attacking Paxton’s record as Attorney General, but rather his ongoing legal troubles. Paxton is dealing with multiple allegations of criminal wrongdoing—both securities fraud violations and using the Office of the Attorney General to benefit a political donor. Paxton faces a trio of challengers, all of whom say that Paxton is unfit to serve in office because of the active charges and investigations related to criminal misconduct. George P. Bush, son of Governor and Presidential hopeful Jeb Bush, is Paxton’s top challenger. While the Bush family name is generally unpopular in the modern GOP, George P. Bush has embraced Trumpism. Bush currently serves as the Texas Land Commissioner, and earned endorsements from a variety of political figures in Texas (including three sitting congresspeople). Eva Guzman, a former justice on the Texas Supreme Court, leads the field in fundraising thus far. She is Bush’s top competitor to make the runoff against Paxton and has recently been gaining in polls as she begins to dig into her $8 million campaign account. Finally, TX-01 Representative Louie Gohmert has suffered an extremely poor showing thus far in the primary. Gohmert voluntarily gave up his position in the House to primary Paxton but has failed to gain any momentum or notable endorsements. He occupies a similar ultra-Trump loyalist vein as Paxton, attacking him exclusively for the allegations of criminal activity. As Paxton has not faded in the polls as much as some expected, this has left Gohmert in a situation where he is unlikely even to qualify for the primary runoff on May 24th. The most likely outcome on March 1st is that Paxton wins a plurality, but not a majority, of the vote and is joined by Bush or Guzman in the May 24th runoff. But Paxton certainly should feel comfortable about his position and has at least an outside chance to win the primary outright on March 1st.
Race Rating: Likely Paxton
Texas Democratic Attorney General Primary
Three Democrats are vying for their party’s Attorney General nomination. Joe Jaworski and Rochelle Garza are both relative moderates hailing from South Texas—Jaworski previously served as the Mayor of Galveston and Garza was formerly an attorney with the ACLU in the Rio Grande Valley. Bernie Sanders recently endorsed progressive civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who will likely siphon off enough of the vote to prevent either Jaworski or Garza from winning outright. Meritt, by virtue of running in a distinct ideological lane, potentially could surprise many by winning second place on March 1st and qualifying for the primary runoff on May 24th. Garza has held a slight lead over Jaworski and Merritt in polling, but a large portion of voters said they remain undecided and will decide the election this spring. It would be a surprise for any candidate to clinch the nomination on March 1st.
Race Rating: Tilt Garza