Category Archives: Primary

More About The Texas Runoffs

By Jim Ellis

March 7, 2022 — More is becoming clear about Tuesday night’s Texas primary election. Topping the list, Republicans had the better night in terms of voter participation. Their turnout, which exceeded 1.9 million voters in the governor’s race, represents at least a 24.2 percent increase over the last midterm election year of 2018. The Democrats, on the other hand, saw only a 3.5 percent commensurate increase.

Two major runoff elections advance to a May 24 vote. In the attorney general’s race, embattled incumbent Ken Paxton, who has been under federal indictment since 2015 with no action taken, and faces bribery accusations from ex-staff members along with a now public extra-marital affair, still managed to place first in the primary. He recorded 42.7 percent of the Republican vote and now faces Land Commissioner George P. Bush in the secondary election. Commissioner Bush is the son of former Florida governor and ex-presidential candidate Jeb Bush.

Bush received 22.8 percent, which was enough to clinch second place and advance. In third position with 17.5 percent, just ahead of US Rep. Louie Gohmert’s (R-Tyler) 17.1 percent, was former state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman. With approximately 58 percent of the Republican primary electorate choosing someone other than incumbent Paxton, the runoff outlook bodes poorly for him on paper, but the AG still has a solid base within the GOP’s most conservative faction. The latter will be an important element in the lower turnout runoff election.

In the primary contest, Bush was the only opponent that Paxton did not attack with negative ads. This suggests his preference is to run against Bush in what was always viewed as a contest that would evolve into a runoff, so this attorney general’s battle should be an interesting three-month campaign.

In the federal races, two incumbents were forced to runoff elections, Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) and Van Taylor (R-Plano), but the latter situation is already settled.

The Cuellar race got much closer as late votes were being tabulated. According to the Secretary of State’s website, Cuellar, who came from way behind after trailing early, took the lead but did not reach the majority threshold. Some outstanding and overseas ballots remain to be tabulated, but it doesn’t appear as if this runoff will be avoided.

The official count now stands a 48.4 percent for Rep. Cuellar and 46.9 percent for opponent Jessica Cisneros. A third candidate, Tannya Benavides, secured only 4.7 percent of the vote, but this was enough to deny either front runner majority support.

The race not only broke along ideological lines, but also geographic. Rep. Cuellar is a member of the more politically moderate Blue Dog Coalition, while Cisneros earned support from the Democratic Socialists. Geographically, Cisneros ran up the vote score in the northern part of the district, the area in and around San Antonio, while the counties south of the city and all the way to the Mexican border including Cuellar’s home county of Webb, strongly supported him.

Continue reading

Rep. Taylor Withdraws From Race

Former Texas Collin County Judge (Executive) Keith Self is now the new 3rd District Republican nominee after north Texas area Congressman Van Taylor (R-Plano) decided to withdraw from the runoff election resulting from Tuesday’s primary.

By Jim Ellis

March 4, 2022 — It was on a somewhat surprising note that north Texas area Congressman Van Taylor (R-Plano) was forced into a runoff from Tuesday’s primary election, but Wednesday’s related events proved astonishing.

Rep. Taylor has announced that he is withdrawing from the runoff, making public an extra-marital affair in which he engaged. Apparently, affair rumors began to surface late in the primary contest. Clearly knowing the story would become public, he admitted the indiscretion and immediately departed the race.

Under Texas election procedure, a candidate qualifying for a runoff election can decline to participate. The concession means the opponent automatically wins the party nomination. Thus, former Collin County Judge (Executive) Keith Self is the new 3rd District Republican nominee with an accompanying ticket to Washington, DC after the Nov. 8 election.

Taylor only secured 48.7 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary, meaning that a majority of Republican primary voters chose another candidate. This is never a good sign for any incumbent and the chief reason that most incumbents fail when forced to the secondary election. Adding the personal baggage obviously told Rep. Taylor that his re-election chances were irreparably diminished.

Self is a retired career West Point Academy Army officer who placed second in the primary with 27.1 percent, outlasting third-place finisher Suzanne Harp, a hard-charging businesswoman who proved to be surprisingly strong. The new congressional nominee presided over Collin County, an entity with now more than 1 million people, for three terms and chose to retire in 2018. In the congressional primary, he campaigned to Rep. Taylor’s right.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.
Continue reading

Oklahoma Sen. Inhofe to Resign

By Jim Ellis

Veteran Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe (R) / Facebook

Feb. 28, 2022 — Veteran Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe (R), who turned 87 years old last November, is reportedly set to announce that he will leave the Senate at the end of this year. He was first elected in 1994 after serving four terms in the US House and six years as mayor of Tulsa prior to coming to Congress.

As of this writing, the senator is expected to sign an irrevocable resignation letter before March 1. If so, he will serve until the end of this year; a special election to replace him will be held concurrently with the 2022 election cycle. His resignation is unexpected, and the reason for his departure has not yet been publicized.

Under the Sooner State special election laws, if a vacancy in the Senate occurs in an even-numbered year, the seat is filled within the regular election schedule. An odd-numbered year vacancy has its own election formula. Oklahoma is one of 13 states that doesn’t fill a Senate vacancy through gubernatorial appointment.

The regular political schedule calls for a primary on June 28, an Aug. 23 runoff if no candidate receives majority support in the first vote, and the general election on Nov. 8. The candidate filing deadline is April 15.

The Inhofe resignation also means that both of the state’s Senate seats will be up for election this autumn since Sen. James Lankford (R) is in-cycle. The special election winner will serve the remaining four years of the Inhofe term and be eligible to run for a full six-year stint in 2026.

While the new Oklahoma Senate race brings the total number of federal statewide campaigns to 35, with Republicans now defending 21, this contest won’t likely alter the aggregate political picture. The GOP should remain safe in both of the Oklahoma general election contests.

The special Republican primary, however, will be a different story. Expect a crowded field and a tough primary campaign and likely runoff, with the eventual winner having an easy ride in the general election.

Already, rumors are flying as to who may run in the special. Names from Gov. Kevin Stitt and Lt. Gov. Mark Pinnell to US Reps. Kevin Hern (R-Tulsa) and Markwayne Mullin (R-Westville) to former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon and ex-US Attorney Trent Shore are already being mentioned.

Continue reading