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Happy Wednesday, everybody.

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Today's newsletter is a politics-heavy 843 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Abbott's election day sway

Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Gov. Greg Abbott's name wasn't on the ballot last night, but he was the big winner.

Driving the news: Five of 10 Abbott-endorsed challengers defeated incumbents while three others forced runoffs.

Why it matters: Abbott spent more than $6 million between late January and late February against Texas House Republicans who defied him on school vouchers, and last night's results show Abbott's power to shape the Texas Republican Party.

Between the lines: The results also underscored the power of personal grievance politics in the Age of Trump as House Speaker Dade Phelan heads to a May runoff election.

  • Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick targeted Phelan, a fellow Republican.
  • Paxton wanted to punish Phelan for encouraging House Republicans to impeach him on corruption allegations while Patrick has long bitterly feuded with Phelan.

By the numbers: Challenger David Covey, an oil and gas consultant and party activist, received 46.3% of the vote and Phelan got 43.2%, according to unofficial results.

  • "Let this runoff be a rallying cry for all conservatives across Texas," Paxton said in a statement. "We must continue to stand firm against the liberal agenda represented by Dade Phelan and his allies."

Yes but: Republican Rep. Jeff Leach of Plano easily won re-election.

  • Paxton targeted Leach after he gave an emotional closing argument in Paxton's impeachment trial, urging senators to convict him.

The bottom line: When Abbott's push to pass school vouchers fell short, he warned lawmakers he would remake the Legislature to extract victories in the 2025 legislative session.

  • Targeted incumbents were made miserable by the governor's aggressive campaigning, which saw him make more than 50 campaign stops since mid-January, per a Houston Chronicle tally.

Read more

2. Colin Allred wins Democratic Senate primary

U.S. Rep. Colin Allred (left) and Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez meet with The Houston Chronicle Editorial Board in January. Photo: Sharon Steinmann/Houston Chronicle via Getty Images

Rep. Colin Allred easily defeated state Sen. Roland Gutierrez in the Texas Democratic Senate primary.

Why it matters: Allred will face Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in November's general election as Cruz seeks his third term in office.

  • Cruz is seen as one of a few vulnerable Senate Republicans in this year's elections — even though Texas hasn't sent a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since 1988.

Follow the money: ​​Allred, a Dallas civil rights lawyer and former NFL player, has been a fundraising juggernaut. As of Feb. 14, he had raised more than $21 million for the campaign, per FEC data.

  • Gutierrez, who represents an area near San Antonio, brought in just $1.3 million.
  • Allred was first elected to Congress in 2018. He's been critical of the Biden administration's handling of the border.

The bottom line: Cruz continues to be a polarizing figure, facing criticism over his response to last year's mass shooting in Allen and his visit to Cancún in 2021 during the deadly Texas winter storm.

  • He beat El Paso Democrat Beto O'Rourke in 2018 by less than 3 percentage points, and the Cook Political Report has ranked the 2024 seat as "likely Republican."

3. Garza triumphs in Democratic DA primary

Travis County District Attorney José Garza. Photo: Spencer Selvidge for the Washington Post via Getty Images

Travis County District Attorney José Garza survived a well-funded opponent to win his Democratic primary with 66.9% of the vote.

Why it matters: The victory affirms the staying power of progressive prosecutors.

  • Garza swept into office as part of a wave of reform-minded prosecutors elected after national social unrest following George Floyd's 2020 murder.

Catch up quick: In an election about criminal justice priorities for Austin and Travis County, Garza stressed his efforts to go after the root causes of domestic violence and gun crimes.

What they're saying: "We scored a major victory for our progressive movement and for criminal justice reform in this town," Garza told supporters last night at Hotel Vegas.

What's next: Garza faces Republican Daniel Betts in November but will be heavily favored in deep-blue Travis County.

4. 🤠 The Roundup: Wrangling the news

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🏛️ Dallas, Kansas City and Denton city managers are the three finalists for Austin's open city manager position. (KXAN)

📭 The Austin police have arrested two men for allegedly stealing mail from over 50 addresses. (CBS Austin)

🚗 The Austin airport is expecting so many travelers this month that through the end of March that it will no longer take parking reservations. (KVUE)

5. Waymo eschews humans behind the wheel

A Waymo vehicle at a railroad crossing near downtown Austin. Photo: Courtesy of Waymo

Starting today, Waymo will begin testing its Austin vehicles fully autonomously — with no human behind the wheel — as it prepares to roll out its ride-hailing service.

Why it matters: The company hopes to succeed in Austin where other companies — notably Cruise — have had a rocky road as it tries to remake how we get from point A to point B.

How it works: The company will test across 43 square miles of the city, including downtown and East Austin.

  • For now the company will provide rides only to Waymo employees.

Friction point: Robot vehicles have sometimes caused headaches and complaints in Austin.

Between the lines: Per a 2017 state law supported by car companies, Texas cities can't regulate self-driving cars.

What they're saying: "Our disciplined deployment in Texas' capital brings us one step closer to safely delivering the benefits of fully autonomous driving to many more people," Saswat Panigrahi, chief product officer of Waymo, said in a statement.

Thanks to Chloe Gonzales for editing and Kate Sommers-Dawes and Yasmeen Altaji for copy editing this newsletter.

🗳️ Asher misses the big-lever election booths, the ones with the curtains, that he watched his parents operate when he was a kid in New York City.

🍕 Nicole is enjoying her leftover election night pizza.