Category Archives: Governor

Texas Primary Results; Reps. Cuellar and Taylor to Runoffs

By Jim Ellis

March 2, 2022 — Both Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and former US Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) won their respective gubernatorial primary outright last night, the nation’s first nomination contest in the 2022 election cycle.

Gov. Abbott easily captured the nomination to run for a third term, defeating former Texas Republican Party chairman Allen West and ex-state Sen. Don Huffines with 67 percent of the vote. O’Rourke topped a group of Democratic candidates to easily secure his nomination, attracting a whopping 91 percent. Several thousand votes remain to be counted. Gov. Abbott will be favored in the general election.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R), state Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller (R), and State Comptroller Glenn Hegar (R) were all easily re-nominated and are prohibitive favorites in the general election.

Attorney General Ken Paxton, as expected, was forced into a Republican runoff election and will face Land Commissioner George P. Bush, son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in what will be a highly competitive contest. AG Paxton recorded 42.7 percent support compared with Bush’s 22.8 percent. Former state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman and US Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tyler) followed with 17.4 and 17.1 percent, respectively.

Bush’s open Land Commissioner position will also go to a secondary election with state Sen. Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway) garnering 41.9 percent. Her runoff opponent will be pastor Tim Westley who appears to have clinched second place with 14.8 percent of the vote. The Texas runoff election is scheduled for May 24.

A pair of incumbents are forced into runoff elections while all other incumbents won their elections outright. The open seat contests also unfolded as expected.

Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) will again face opponent Jessica Cisneros in a secondary May 24 election. After trailing all night, Cuellar finished first with 48.5 percent as compared to Cisneros’ 46.8 percent, a difference of 807 votes. Third place finisher Tannya Benavides’ small 4.7 percent share is enough to force the runoff as neither top finisher reached 50 percent.

In north Texas, Rep. Van Taylor (R-Plano) will also be forced to a runoff. He came within 1.3 percentage points of winning outright. Former Collin County Judge (Executive) Keith Self advances but recorded only 26.5 percent of the vote. He outlasted financial executive Suzanne Harp by just over 3,600 votes.

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Texas Primary Today

By Jim Ellis

March 1, 2022 — The national primary season begins today in the Lone Star State and some nominees will be chosen outright while others can advance to a May 24 runoff election. The majority of the candidates will be eliminated, however.

Texas has all of their statewide offices on the ballot in 2022, as well as 38 congressional races, two more than in the previous decade since the state earned two new seats in national reapportionment. Neither Texas US senator is in-cycle his year.

This should be a relatively quiet primary day for the top of the ticket candidates as Gov. Greg Abbott and former US Rep. Beto O’Rourke will easily win outright in their respective Republican and Democratic nomination elections. Surveys, however, only show early single-digit leads for Gov. Abbott in general election pairings, which is typical for Texas polling. Often races begin in rather close fashion only to see the Republican nominee pull away at the end.

The race garnering the most attention is the attorney general’s contest, where two-term incumbent Ken Paxton is likely headed to a runoff election against either Land Commissioner George P. Bush, son of former Florida governor and presidential candidate Jeb Bush, or state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman. US Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tyler), while being part of the equation that likely denies Paxton re-nomination tomorrow night, does not appear in competitive position.

AG Paxton continues to have a 2015 federal indictment hanging over his head without action, former aides levying (at this point unproven) charges that he was involved in a bribery scam, and dealing with an extra-marital affair that has come to the surface. All of this has put him in an obvious vulnerable position for re-election.

Four serious Democratic candidates are vying for their party’s nomination, with ACLU south Texas lawyer Rochelle Garza, civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who under scrutiny has yet to produce his Texas law license, former Galveston Mayor Lee Merritt, and retired Harris County Judge Mark Fields. Two of these candidates advancing into a runoff is a virtual certainty.

Several primary contests will be decided tomorrow night in congressional races, with the most competitive battles underway in open seats. Twenty of the state’s incumbents seeking re-election have primary opposition, but only two face what can be characterized as serious opponents. Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) has the most serious challenge, and a highly publicized FBI investigation certainly doesn’t help his situation.

The following are the congressional races to watch tomorrow night:

District 1: Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tyler) – Open Seat

2022 TX-1: 538 Stat Projection: R+50 | Previous Projection: R+50
2022 TX-1: Dave’s Redistricting App: 72.5% R; 25.6% D

• Percent of Former District 1 in New District 1: 72.4 (Gohmert)
• Percent of Former District 4 in New District 1: 27.6 (Fallon)

With Rep. Gohmert retiring after what will be nine terms, four candidates are battling for the Republican nomination in what is a super-safe east Texas seat for the GOP. Smith County Judge (called County Executives in most states) Nathaniel Moran appears to be the favorite since the Tyler area is the 1st District’s population anchor. Moran is a possibility to win outright, but he is virtually assured of clinching one of the runoff slots.


District 3: Rep. Van Taylor (R-Plano)

2022 TX-3: 538 Stat Projection: R+23 Previous Projection: R+11
2022 TX-3: Dave’s Redistricting App: 58.7% R; 38.6% D

• Percent of Former District   3 in New District 3: 73.3 (Taylor)
• Percent of Former District   4 in New District 3: 18.3 (Fallon)
• Percent of Former District 32 in New District 3:   8.5 (Allred)

Rep. Van Taylor’s top opponent, former Collin County Judge Keith Self, has won three elections in a political entity that houses more than 1 million people, so he is a known figure to north Texas Republican voters. He has not raised much in the way of funding, however, but does have some outside help. There are two other candidates on the ballot, so a runoff is mathematically conceivable but highly unlikely.

Rep. Taylor is the clear favored to win outright. The 3rd District was made much more Republican in redistricting, thus tomorrow night’s election will likely be the determining factor for the entire election cycle.


District 8: Rep. Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands) – Open Seat

2022 TX-8: 538 Stat Projection: R+26 Previous Projection: R+50
2022 TX-8: Dave’s Redistricting App: 63.5% R; 34.4% D

• Percent of Former District   8 in New District 8: 42.4 (Brady)
• Percent of Former District   7 in New District 8: 30.1 (Fletcher)
• Percent of Former District 10 in New District 8: 19.0 (McCaul)
• Percent of Former District 36 in New District 8:   6.5 (Babin)
• Percent of Former District   2 in New District 8:   1.9 (Crenshaw)

Rep. Kevin Brady is retiring after what will be 26 years in the House, and leaves a Republican primary battle that will likely be decided tomorrow night. Internal polling shows retired Iraq and Afghan War veteran Morgan Luttrell in position to win outright in a field of 11 candidates, which is a difficult feat. Luttrell is the brother of Marcus Luttrell, who came to fame as the “Lone Survivor” in books and a movie about his harrowing experience in Afghanistan.

Consultant and conservative activist Christian Collins, who Sen. Ted Cruz and Texas Reps. Lance Gooden (R-Terrell) and Troy Nehls (R-Richmond) are supporting, appears as Luttrell’s strongest opponent. The eventual Republican nominee will have little trouble in the general election.
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A Curiously Conflicting Georgia Poll

By Jim Ellis

“The negative driver for this [Georgia poll] appears to be President Biden.”

Feb. 1, 2022 — The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) released one of their regular Georgia statewide polls that the School of Public and International Affairs from the University of Georgia administers (Jan. 13-24; 872 registered Georgia voters, live interview) and the results reflect an electorate with some conflicting views.

While President Biden’s job approval ratio has taken a steep dive since the news entity’s May 2021 survey was published, and the right track/wrong track question is heavily lopsided toward the negative, the current statewide office holders and even the state legislature land in the positive approval realm. Yet, in the accompanying ballot test numbers, the tested Democratic officials are trailing despite brandishing the relatively positive approval ratios.

President Biden now records a combined 34:61 percent favorable to unfavorable index (13 percent strongly approve; 21 percent somewhat approve; 11 percent somewhat disapprove; 50 percent strongly disapprove), which is a huge net reduction of 32 percentage points from his combined 51:46 percent score in May (28 percent strongly approve; 23 percent somewhat approve; 9 percent somewhat disapprove; 37 percent strongly disapprove).

In the new January poll, the respondents believe, in a very poor 17:71 percent ratio, that the country is on the wrong track. They also feel Georgia is headed in the wrong direction, but with less intensity, 34:48 percent negative. The May AJC poll, with a shorter questionnaire, did not ask similar track questions.

The sense of the nation figures in the January study, however, also seem inconsistent with how these same respondents rate their elected federal officials. Sens. Raphael Warnock (D) and Jon Ossoff (D) record 44:35 percent and 43:35 percent positive ratios, respectively. This tells us that the sampling universe members don’t hold their senators particularly responsible for the country being on the perceived wrong track.

In another inconsistency, the senator who is on the 2022 ballot, Rev. Warnock, actually trails his prospective general election opponent, former Georgia and NFL football star Herschel Walker (R), despite the positive job approval sentiment. In this AJC poll, Walker holds a 47-44 percent lead. This latter finding is also consistent with a recent Quinnipiac University study (Jan. 19-24; 1,702 registered Georgia voters, live interview) that gave the challenger an edge, but with a smaller 49-48 percent split.

The governor’s numbers show a similar inconsistency. In Gov. Brian Kemp’s (R) case, while the state is viewed as headed in the wrong direction, the chief executive does not appear to be shouldering an excessive amount of blame. His job approval lies in the positive realm at 49:43 percent favorable to unfavorable. Paired with his likely general election opponent, 2018 gubernatorial nominee and former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D), Kemp leads 48-41 percent.

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Gov. DeWine’s Primary Trouble

By Jim Ellis

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R)

Jan. 28, 2022 — The Ohio Republican gubernatorial race has been rather quiet to this point, but it appears the May 3 primary is beginning to get interesting.

A Fabrizio Lee research firm survey (Jan. 11-13; 800 Ohio Republican primary voters and Independents who choose to vote in the Republican primary, live interview) finds Ohio GOP Gov. Mike DeWine, one of the leading 2020 COVID shutdown governors, in trouble for re-nomination against his Republican primary opponent, former Congressman Jim Renacci.

According to the poll results, Renacci would top Gov. DeWine in his quest for re-nomination by a relatively substantial 46-38 percent margin. The governor falling under 40 percent among a voting sample within his own party is certainly a warning sign. It appears what was thought to be a relatively minor primary challenge is transforming into a highly competitive contest.

Earlier in the month, the Harris Poll (Jan. 4; 1,146 likely Ohio Republican primary voters, online) tested the Ohio primary and found the two contenders tied at 42 percent, possibly the first public tangible indication of the incumbent’s weakness within his own party.

Of Renacci’s 46 percent support in the Fabrizio Lee study, 22 of the 46 said they would “definitely” vote for the GOP intra-party challenger. Another 19 percent said they would “probably” back him, with the final five percent saying they are “leaning” toward the former congressman. Turning to DeWine’s supporters, 20 percent of his 38 percent said they would “definitely” vote for the governor, 16 percent retorted “probably” so, with the final two percent indicating they are “leaning” toward the incumbent.

Furthermore, Gov. DeWine’s score on the accompanying re-elect question is troublesome for any incumbent. A total of 33 percent from his own party said “I will definitely vote against Mike DeWine for governor regardless of who runs against him in the Republican primary” as compared to just 14 percent of Republicans and Republican voting Independents who said “I will definitely vote to re-elect Mike DeWine for governor, regardless of who runs against him in the Republican primary.”

Looking at the extremes on such a question is telling, and the fact that DeWine sees his opponent’s hard-core supporters more than doubling the number of his own strong backers is a major warning sign indicating that he could face losing the party nomination if this pattern is verified and continues.

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Texas 2022 Candidate Filing Closes

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 17, 2021 — Texas became the first state to see candidate filing close for the 2022 elections, so the campaign season has officially been launched.

In the Lone Star State, candidates file with their respective state party organizations, or county parties if their race is fully contained within one entity, and not the Secretary of State. Therefore, the filings might not yet be fully recorded and approved. The statewide primary is scheduled for March 1. If no candidate for whatever office does not receive majority support in the first election, a runoff between the top two finishers will occur on May 24.

What we know so far is that Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will face a significant Republican primary challenge from former Florida congressman and ex-Texas Republican Party chairman Allen West and former Dallas state Sen. Don Huffines. The latter man, who was defeated for re-election in 2018, has the ability to self-fund a statewide primary campaign. Former congressman and 2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke will be the Democratic nominee as he faces only minor opposition in the party primary.

Regardless of the level of competition, Gov. Abbott, though his approval ratings are at a low ebb in his seven-year career as the state’s chief executive, is a heavy favorite in both the Republican primary and the 2022 general election.

The main constitutional office of interest is the attorney general’s race. Here, embattled incumbent Ken Paxton (R), who has for years been under a federal SEC indictment that has yet to move forward, and who has been publicly accused of having an ongoing extra-marital affair, faces three strong candidates for re-nomination: State Land Commissioner George P. Bush, US Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tyler), and state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman.

Though Paxton has personal and legal problems, his favorability ratings among Republican primary voters is still surprisingly high. Forcing the two-term attorney general into a runoff election, however, is a clear possibility.

With the state having no Senate race in 2022, the federal focus turns to the new 38-member US House delegation. Texas gained two seats in national reapportionment, thus increasing their delegation size from 36 to 38 seats. The state will wield 40 electoral votes in the next presidential election, second only to California’s reduced 54.

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