Mar 7, 2024 - News

Trump's outsized influence on Texas elections

Katrina Pierson holding a microphone

Katrina Pierson, seen here at a 2021 CPAC, is in a runoff for a seat in the Texas Legislature. Photo: Dylan Hollingsworth/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former president Donald Trump didn't spend long in Texas leading up to this week's elections, but he maintained an outsized influence over the outcomes up and down the Republican ballot.

Why it matters: Nearly 10 years after he entered politics, Trump has reshaped the state's political landscape. Not only did he dominate at the top of the ticket on Tuesday, a cadre of MAGA-world stars also won elections across North Texas.

Zoom in: Brandon Gill won the GOP primary to replace U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, a Denton County Republican who's retiring after 11 terms in Congress — one of the few open seats in deeply red territory in Texas.

  • Gill, the 29-year-old son-in-law of Dinesh D'Souza, built a name in conservative circles after working on the film "2000 Mules," which alleged widespread fraud in the 2020 election.
  • Gill won close to 60% of the vote, defeating former Denton County Judge Scott Armey — the son of former House majority leader Dick Armey, who held that seat before Burgess.

Flashback: D'Souza's been a fixture on conservative television and radio for years, and an outspoken Trump supporter. Trump pardoned D'Souza in 2018, after D'Souza pled guilty in 2014 to a felony charge of illegally making contributions to a California Senate campaign.

Meanwhile: Former Trump spokesperson Katrina Pierson drew even with Republican incumbent state Rep. Justin Holland from Rockwall.

  • Since neither candidate got 50% of the vote, the two will face each other in a May runoff.
  • Yes, but: Roger Stone, another Trump advisor — who Trump also pardonedrailed online against Pierson, resorting to some very personal attacks.

Zoom out: David Covey, the Trump-endorsed challenger to Texas House speaker Dade Phelan, will also head to a runoff.

The bottom line: More than ever, Texas has become the house that Trump built.

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