Texas Republican House Primary Preview
Republican congressional primaries begin in Texas on Tuesday, March 1st, 2020. These primaries are generally referendums on how far Republicans’ loyalty to President Donald Trump should extend. There are three contests to fill an open seat in Texas after Republican incumbents retired or chose to run for another office, as well as a handful of incumbents who are under fire for their insufficient loyalty to Trump or members of the Freedom Caucus. Texas state rule forces candidates to win over 50% of the vote in these March 1st primaries to win their party’s nomination, leading to a runoff election on May 24th if all candidates are unable to reach this threshold.
TX-01 Republican Primary
After incumbent Representative Louie Gohmert (R) declined to run for re-election in his R+51 Tyler-based district in East Texas, a variety of conservative Trump Republicans enlisted to be his replacement. As there are four serious candidates in the running for the March 1st primary, the race is unlikely to be decided until a runoff. Nathaniel Moran, the elected judge in Smith County (Tyler), is currently considered the frontrunner to succeed Gohmert. The race has received little to no media coverage, and there are no clear policy differences defined between the candidates. Watch for this race to develop more after March 1st.
Race Rating: Lean Moran
TX-02 Republican Primary
In 2020, Dan Crenshaw (R) was unopposed as he ran for re-election, but now he faces three primary competitors in his suburban Houston district based in The Woodlands. His district is R+31 and the general election is not considered remotely competitive. Robin Fulford, a stay-at-home mom, is his best-funded challenger, but Crenshaw is still likely to dominate his primary on March 1st and win a majority of the vote. Crenshaw recently publicly feuded with Freedom Caucus member Marjorie Taylor Greene on Twitter, and could possibly have been vulnerable to a serious, well-funded challenge from the right. Crenshaw also voted in favor of electoral vote certification for all states in the 2020 Presidential Election.
Race Rating: Solid Crenshaw
TX-03 Republican Primary
Incumbent representative Van Taylor (R) faces a serious, well-funded challenge from the right in Keith Self in his suburban Dallas district. Taylor has historically held one of the most consistently conservative voting records in all of Congress, but he has recently received scrutiny from Trump loyalists after breaking with the majority of his party in the months after the 2020 Presidential Election. Taylor voted in favor to confirm all states' electoral college votes, as well as for the establishment of the January 6th commission. Taylor received an important endorsement from Ted Cruz and is expected to win a majority of the vote over Self on March 1st. Trump has not endorsed in this primary.
Race Rating: Likely Taylor
TX-08 Republican Primary
TX-08 is one of Texas’ two new districts created in the 2022 redistricting cycle, a safe Republican district in northwest suburban Houston. The primary battle is primarily between Morgan Luttrell, a businessman and former Navy SEAL, and Christian Collins, a former aide to Senator Ted Cruz. Both are conservative from a policy standpoint but differ regarding the degree of Republican loyalty to Donald Trump. Luttrell has received endorsements from the majority of the party’s traditional establishment: ex-Governor Rick Perry, Representatives Dan Crenshaw and Adam Kinzinger, and the Republican Congressional Leadership Fund (which is closely linked to past Speaker of the House Paul Ryan). Collins, meanwhile, is backed by the House Freedom Caucus, a group of firebrand young conservatives led by Marjorie Taylor Greene, as well as Senator Cruz. Collins has attacked Luttrell for his friendship with anti-Trump Representative Kinzinger, calling Kinzinger a traitor to America. Luttrell has shot back at Collins for these statements, noting that he served in the military with Kinzinger overseas and said that just because he was a traitor to Trump did not mean he was a traitor to America. Luttrell is significantly better funded than Collins, and this primary outcome will be extremely important to determine the current pulse and future direction of the Republican Primary. But with a deep primary field, it could be difficult for Lutrell or Collins to get above the 50% threshold on March 1st.
Race Rating: Lean Luttrell
TX-15 Republican Primary
Republicans are targeting TX-15 as a possible district to flip in 2022, and hope their nominee eventually becomes the congressperson from the 79% Hispanic VAP (Voting Age Population), South Texas district. The district is based in Hidalgo County and includes the cities of McAllen, Mission, and Edinburg. TX-15 has historically been a stronghold for Democrats, with Representative Vicente Gonzalez (D) winning reelection by 21 points as recently as 2018. However, in 2020, TX-15 raced to the right with the rest of the Rio Grande Valley, But after TX-15 became even more conservative through redistricting, and TX-34 Representative Filemon Vela Jr. retired, Gonzales decided to switch districts. His absence means that TX-15 is an open district. Monica De La Cruz Hernandez, the Republican Party nominee in 2020, is the runaway favorite in the seven-candidate primary field. Hernandez only lost to Gonzales by 3 points in 2020 and received endorsements from Ted Cruz, Kevin McCarthy, and Donald Trump. Her main competition is self-funded San Antonio businessman Mauro Garza, but she should have no problem dispatching the field and becoming the Republican nominee.
Race Rating: Solid De La Cruz Hernandez
TX-21 Republican Primary
Chip Roy is running for re-election in his solidly red district in East-Central Texas, including portions of Austin’s suburbs, San Antonio’s suburbs, and a large swath of rural Texas connecting them. Roy voted for the certification of all state’s electoral votes and publicly released statements that “supported the integrity of American democracy” according to the Republican Accountability Project. President Trump publicly railed against Roy in 2021, saying he “has not done a good job and probably will be successfully primaried in his own district” while fighting against his bid to join Republican leadership in the House. Roy, however, does not face any serious or well-funded challengers. The most serious challenger is Robert Lowry, a physician who previously ran for Congress in 2014.
Race Rating: Solid Roy
TX-23 Republican Primary
Incumbent representative Tony Gonzales is running for re-election in his Western Texas district, which stretches from the suburbs of El Paso to San Antonio, and will likely be nominated again by the Republican Party to run for his second term. Gonzales won the Republican runoff by only 45 votes just two years ago, and the freshman representative has quickly earned the wrath from portions of his party after voting for the certification of electoral votes in the 2020 Presidential Election as well as for the establishment of a January 6th commission. Gonzales, however, does not face a serious primary challenge from a more extreme pro-Trump challenger. He faces a challenge from Alia Garcia-Ureste, who is a solidly funded challenger, but one who is unlikely to pose any sort of challenge for Gonzales.
Race Rating: Solid Gonzales
TX-28 Republican Primary
While the nation is focusing on the TX-28 Democratic Primary, a fight between incumbent Henry Cuellar (D) and progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros, Republicans in South Texas will try to find a competitive nominee in the right-trending district. While Cuellar will be tough for Republicans to take down in November, TX-28 will be very winnable for Republicans if Cisneros is the nominee. The 73% Hispanic VAP (Voting Age Population) district stretches from Laredo in the Rio Grande Valley all the way to downtown San Antonio and moved 16 points to the right relative to the nation as a whole from 2016 to 2020. A host of Republicans are competing to win the party’s nomination in the district, led by Ed Cabrera, Willie Vasquez Ng, and Cassy Garcia. Two of these three candidates are likely to advance to the May 24th runoff, and the race is wide open between the three of them. Few policy distinctions have been drawn thus far, but expect the race to heat up throughout the Spring. 2020 Republican Nominee, Sunday School teacher Sandra Whitten, also is running again but is unlikely to reach the runoff stage.
Race Rating: Tossup
TX-38 Republican Primary
TX-38 is an open district, as incumbent Dan Crenshaw chose to run in TX-02 as a matter of redistricting. While 8 Republicans are vying to win the Republican Nomination in this solid red suburban Houston district, the majority of the party has coalesced around Wesley Hunt, a U.S. Army veteran and nominee for TX-07 in 2020. Hunt, a reliable “America First” conservative, has received endorsements from Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). Hunt, a Black Republican, also boasts over $2.4 million in his war chest. Paul Gosar, the Freedom Caucus affiliated house representative, endorsed consultant Roland Lopez, but Lopez is not expected to seriously contend for the nomination. Mark Ramsey, a Republican Political Operative with a history in the oil and gas industry, is Hunt’s top competition and has received multiple endorsements from Texas politicians. Except Hunt to win a majority of the vote on March 1st, allowing him to advance to the general election without a runoff.
Race Rating: Solid Hunt