Mar 1, 2022 - Politics

Storylines to watch in the 2022 Texas primary

Illustration of a pencil filling in a ballot with the checkbox in the shape of the state of Texas.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The biggest storylines in this year's primary include the governor's race, the race for state attorney general and one deep-blue Dallas congressional district.

Why it matters: No Democrat has won a statewide election in Texas since The Lion King was still in theaters — the animated one in 1994 — most of the biggest races will be decided Tuesday.

  • Because Texas is so gerrymandered, nearly all of the congressional races will be decided Tuesday, too.
Can Gov. Greg Abbott fend off his far-right challengers?

Abbott’s two biggest opponents are former GOP state party chair Allen West and former state Sen. Don Huffines, both of whom have spent their political careers trying to push the Republican party further right.

Details: Abbott’s campaign avoided disaster when the state power grid stayed on during this year’s winter storms.

The bottom line: The latest polling shows he’ll likely get more than 50 percent of the primary vote and avoid a runoff.

Can Attorney General Ken Paxton avoid a runoff?

Paxton’s race looks much closer than Abbott’s. To avoid a runoff, he’ll need a majority of his party’s vote, in a field that includes state Land Commissioner George P. Bush, former state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman and Rep. Louie Gohmert.

Details: Paxton’s opponents have hammered the fact that he’s been facing criminal charges since 2015 and more recently he’s been investigated by the FBI for alleged bribery.

  • An endorsement from former President Trump might not be enough to get him over that 50-percent threshold.

The bottom line: Polls in mid-February showed Paxton leading the field with 47% of likely GOP primary voters.

Who will win Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson’s seat?

Nine candidates are bidding to succeed Johnson, who was first elected to Congress in 1992, but state Rep. Jasmine Crockett is the odds-on favorite.

Details: Johnson’s district, which includes parts of Dallas and Duncanville and all of DeSoto and Lancaster, is considered a lock for Democrats.

Will Texans elect an insurrectionist?

Mark Middleton, who’s facing federal charges for allegedly assaulting a police officer at the capitol last year, is running for a seat in the state house.

Details: He told the Killeen Daily Herald that he wants to eliminate property tax and protect children from “Marxist indoctrinations” and “gender modification.”

How many Texans will vote?

Texas has historically small turnout in primary elections, despite the disproportionate sway these races have.

Details: As of the last day of early voting, less than 10 percent of the 17 million Texans registered to vote had cast a ballot, per the Texas Tribune.

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