As Washington D.C. gathered in the Capitol for President Joe Biden’s first (really second) State of the Union Address, political observers were keeping an eye on the Lone Star State where 2022’s first primaries were taking place.
Texas is providing our first look at how the electorate is evolving as 2022 moves forward. The state’s run-off rule, however, means that any contest where the leading candidate is under 50% will go to a May 24th run-off. As you might expect, several of the most anticipated contests are being extended.
For this recap, I’ll be dividing the major contests into those that are headed to May 24th and those that were definitely decided last night.
The Races Going To Run-Offs
Lt. Governor: Democratic Primary
2018 nominee Mike Collier leads the field, but not by enough to avoid a run-off. With just about all the vote in, Collier sits at 42% while State Rep. Michelle Beckley earned the second slot with 30%. Meanwhile, Party Vice Chair Carla Brailey will be left behind after finishing with 28%.
The Bush dynasty survives, at least for three more months. George P. Bush, Texas Land Commissioner and son of Jeb(!) Bush, made the Republican run-off with 23%. Incumbent AG Ken Paxton, who is being investigated by the FBI, only brought in 43%. Nevertheless, Paxton has the support of Donald Trump, a reality that makes Bush a significant underdog in May.
Over on the Democratic side, we’ll have yet another run-off. Although, despite having nearly all the precincts in, we still don’t know who will make that run-off. Attorney Rochelle Garza secured a spot with 43% but the second slot is too close to call. At the moment, Joe Jaworski has the edge over Lee Meritt 19.63% to 19.37%.
TX-3: Republican Primary
This one was a surprise. Incumbent Rep. Van Taylor suddenly finds himself in a run-off after he just missed the 50% threshold. After getting only 49%, he’ll face a challenge from Keith Shelf, who secured 26.5%. As Steve Kornacki pointed out, Taylor’s vote for the January 6th Commission likely led to this result, and he could face a real battle if Trump decides to throw his weight behind Shelf.
TX-15: Democratic Primary
This will be one of most-watched races in November, even if we don’t yet know who the Democratic nominee will be. 2016 candidate Ruben Ramirez leads the field with 28.3%, while businesswoman Michelle Vallejo currently sits in second with 20.1%. Attorney John Rigby may just miss out with 19.2%.
TX-30: Democratic Primary
Retiring Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson tapped State Rep. Jasmine Crockett as her chosen successor, but Crockett came up just short last night. With 48.4% of the vote, it looks like Crockett will have to face off with Jane Hamilton, who got 17%.
The Races Likely Going to Run-Offs
TX-28: Democratic Primary
The marquee contest of the night was this battle between embattled conservative Rep. Henry Cuellar and progressive challenger Jessica Cisernos. Two years ago, Cuellar beat Cisernos in the primary by four points. So, given that the FBI raided Cuellar’s home and campaign office in January, he appeared to be in major danger.
Despite all that, Cuellar secured more votes than Cisernos last night. That’s the good news for Cuellar, the bad news is he’ll likely have to face Cisernos a third time on May 24th. With nearly all the precincts in, Cuellar sits at 49.98% while Cisernos has 45.38%. Suddenly Tannya Benavides, who secured an important 4.64%, holds some power as she weighs whether to endorse one of her former challengers.
In the gubernatorial race, incumbent Republican Governor Greg Abbott and Democratic contender Beto O’Rourke each easily won their nominations. While Beto secured a higher percentage in his contest (91.3% vs 66.5%), Abbott still received more votes overall (1,265,646 vs 938,312).
TX-1: Republican Primary
Smith County Court Judge Nathaniel Moran is set to take the place of Louie Gohmert, who left this safe Congressional seat in an unsuccessful effort to become AG. Judge Moran leads the field with 63% of the vote and now may sit in this R+50 seat for quite some time.
TX-8: Republican Primary
Although it’s yet to be officially called, it appears Morgan Luttrell will win the GOP nomination in the newly open seat. With 85% of precincts in, Luttrell sits at 52.6%. If Luttrell holds on, it will be a major win for Kevin McCarthy and Rick Perry who backed Luttrell in a proxy war with Ted Cruz. Cruz’s candidate, Christian Collins, is sitting in second with 22%.
TX-15: Republican Primary
As mentioned before, TX-15 is set to be one of November’s most competitive contests. The GOP is betting that their over-performing 2020 nominee Monica De La Cruz can finally flip this historically Democratic district. With about 95% of precincts in, La Cruz won 56.5% of the vote.
TX-34: Democratic Primary
Six Democratic challengers, led by Laura Cisernos, threw their hats into the ring but it wasn’t enough to keep incumbent Rep. Vicente Gonzalez under 50%. Democrats might’ve experienced trouble in this South Texas seat without Rep. Gonzalez on the ballot, but he was able to secure 65%.
TX-35: Democratic Primary
On a night where their hopes of a victory in TX-28 were delayed, progressive Democrats can rejoice about their favored candidate winning this race. City Councilman Greg Casar took 61% of the vote in his primary against Eddie Rodriguez, who underperformed with 16%. Casar will be heavily favored in this D+38 district, which represents the eastern half of Austin.
TX-38: Republican Primary
Kevin McCarthy and the House Republicans scored another victory in this newly created district, as their favored candidate Wesley Hunt emerged with the nomination. With nearly all of the vote in, Hunt sits at 56% and would be heavily favored to win this R+27 seat.