Sep 21, 2022 - News

Texas Comptroller appears to be prepping for higher office run

A photo of Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar presenting a state revenue estimate at the Capitol in 2019.
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar presenting a state revenue estimate at the Capitol in 2019. Photo courtesy state comptroller's office

Texas' chief financial officer appears to be angling for higher office.

The big picture: Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar is known as a low-temperature, middle-of-the-road, straight-shooter, so some of his recent, pointed pronouncements have raised questions about whether he's trying to build his political profile ahead of a run for higher office.

Between the lines: Last week, interspersed amid ho-hum announcements about academic scholarships for third graders and record returns of unclaimed property, his office sent out a press release headlined "Glenn Hegar Stands Up to EPA Bureaucrats in Defense of Texas Economy."

  • The EPA says that air quality in the oil-producing Permian Basin violates federal smog standards β€” so local authorities and companies may have to take measures to prevent pollution.
  • Hegar, in turn, asked federal officials to consider the money at stake.
  • "This tone-deaf proposal could raise gas prices nationwide, undercut our allies abroad and add to global supply chain issues. I remain committed to protecting Texans and our economy from job-killing government mandates," he said.

Zoom out: In the last couple months, Hegar has been on offense, warring with Harris County officials over police funding, investigating a Dallas-area club over a drag show, and threatening to freeze out financial firms he says are anti-oil and gas.

  • Last month, Hegar, who authored abortion restrictions as a state senator, proclaimed support for exempting feminine hygiene products from state sales tax β€” as Republicans nationwide have been trying to figure out how to hold onto women voters in the wake of the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade.
  • Plus: He continues to make appearances like one in the Panhandle this week for his "Good for Texas Tour: Water Edition," which doubles as a way for him to introduce himself to voters in far-flung parts of the state.

What they're saying: Hegar, who is up for re-election this fall as comptroller, has said he will not run for the office again β€” but has not ruled out a run for lieutenant governor or governor.

  • Hegar has said he is "focused on continuing to shepherd the state economy through these challenging times marked by high inflation and global geopolitical uncertainty."

The bottom line: "He's sort of kept to himself until all of a sudden, and that tells me that he’s got plans and that he needs to over perform in that upcoming election so that he looks more viable as a candidate for higher office later on," Genevieve Van Cleve, who tracks Texas state politics for the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, told the Texas Tribune.

  • It's "likely that he's looking to move up and he has to prove his social conservative bona fides to the GOP base," Jon Taylor, chair of the University of Texas-San Antonio political science department, tells Axios. "Yeah, he's looking to 2026 ... my best guess: lieutenant governor."
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