NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, March 4th, 2022

O’Rourke, Abbott advance in Texas primary; Cisneros and Cuellar head to runoff

This week’s Texas 2022 midterm pri­ma­ry elec­tions, held on Tues­day, March 1st, pro­duced a few sur­pris­es amidst most­ly expect­ed results.

As expect­ed, Beto O’Rouke and Gov­er­nor Greg Abbott were eas­i­ly nom­i­nat­ed to rep­re­sent the Demo­c­ra­t­ic and Repub­li­can par­ties in the guber­na­to­r­i­al race.

Abbott, who had $60 mil­lion avail­able with which to cam­paign, pro­tect­ed his right flank from chal­lengers Adam West and Dan Huffines. A byprod­uct of the rel­a­tive­ly com­pet­i­tive Repub­li­can pri­ma­ry for Gov­er­nor was that over 800,000 more Repub­li­cans than Democ­rats vot­ed in this spe­cif­ic pri­ma­ry race in a state that’s been watched close­ly for signs that it could soon turn purple.

Repub­li­can Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor Dan Patrick had a bet­ter result than Gov­er­nor Abbott in his pri­ma­ry due to fac­ing no sig­nif­i­cant opposition.

Even with a slight­ly redrawn con­gres­sion­al map, there weren’t many dis­tricts where incum­bents encoun­tered any unex­pect­ed difficulties.

In one sur­prise, Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Van Tay­lor failed to attain a major­i­ty and avert a May 24th runoff elec­tion, despite hav­ing the advan­tages of incum­ben­cy and sol­id fundrais­ing. Van Tay­lor out­spent his com­bined oppo­nents’ spend­ing by almost six-to-one. But he only man­aged 48.7% of the vote, which means he’ll be head­ing into a runoff of Tues­day, May 24th against for­mer Collin Coun­ty Judge Kei­th Self, who’s cam­paign was large­ly focused against Taylor’s vote to accept the Pres­i­den­tial Elec­toral Col­lege result in 2020.

After Elec­tion Night, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Van Tay­lor opt­ed to sus­pend his cam­paign in light of an affair with a for­mer part­ner of an ISIS/Daesh mil­i­tant, Tania Joya, made pub­lic by right wing web­site Breitbart.

Tay­lor has until March 16th to file a request with Texas Repub­li­can Chair­man Matt Rinal­di to with­draw his name from the runoff. Once that hap­pens, Kei­th Self will become the nom­i­nee and the pri­ma­ry runoff elec­tion for the office in late May will not be held, Self becom­ing Con­gress­man-elect by default.

The effect of Don­ald Trump’s endorse­ments and con­dem­na­tions were decid­ed­ly mixed. While he may have had an effect on Taylor’s can­di­da­cy, in oth­er dis­tricts, Trump did­n’t get the out­come he wanted.

For exam­ple, incum­bent Dan Cren­shaw, who had crit­i­cized Trump’s 2020 attacks on elec­tion offi­cials, eas­i­ly won in his pri­ma­ry in the 2nd Con­gres­sion­al district.

And Dawn Buck­ing­ham, Trump’s choice for Land Com­mis­sion­er, will be head­ed to the late May runoffs with only 41.4% of the Repub­li­can vote.

Anoth­er sur­prise was that Attor­ney Gen­er­al Ken Pax­ton, who also had Trump’s endorse­ment and who had seemed to be able to shrug off almost any accu­sa­tion made against him, includ­ing a fed­er­al indict­ment for secu­ri­ties fraud (made in 2015 and still not yet hav­ing gone to tri­al) and an unre­lat­ed FBI inves­ti­ga­tion, was only able to gar­ner 42.7% of the vote and will be head­ing to a runoff in late May against George P. Bush, the son of for­mer Flori­da Gov­er­nor Jeb Bush and present­ly the state Lands Commissioner.

In the 15th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict, which was redrawn from being Demo­c­ra­t­ic lean­ing to Repub­li­can lean­ing, there were com­pet­i­tive pri­maries on both sides.

Just over twen­ty-eight hun­dred more Demo­c­ra­t­ic than Repub­li­can votes were cast – amidst a large statewide Repub­li­can guber­na­to­r­i­al vote advan­tage in this pri­ma­ry. Gen­er­al elec­tions are often very dif­fer­ent elec­tions than pri­maries or runoffs, but the results are worth pay­ing atten­tion to.

In the 28th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict, pro­gres­sive chal­lenger Jes­si­ca Cis­neros, a twen­ty-eight year-old immi­gra­tion attor­ney, qual­i­fied for a runoff in late May against con­ser­v­a­tive Demo­c­rat Hen­ry Cuel­lar, who received 48.43% of the vote and a sev­en hun­dred and six­ty-sev­en vote advan­tage over Cisneros.

In the 2020 Demo­c­ra­t­ic pri­ma­ry, Cel­lu­lar gained an absolute major­i­ty of 51.8% and a 2,690-vote advan­tage. One dif­fer­ence since then is that Cuel­lar has been sub­ject­ed to an FBI inves­ti­ga­tion, where agents entered Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cuel­lar’s home as vot­ing was start­ing in the pri­ma­ry, pos­si­bly relat­ed to the Repub­lic of Azer­bai­jan, which recent­ly signed a defense pact with Rus­sia just before Russia’s inva­sion of Ukraine. Cuel­lar has released a video declar­ing his innocence.

Anoth­er dif­fer­ence between the two elec­tions may have been the can­di­da­cy of a third Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date, Tan­nya Bena­vides, who gar­nered 2,289 votes. Her web­site espous­es posi­tions sim­i­lar to Cis­neros’. Will Bena­vides’ vot­ers go for Cis­neros in the late May runoff? Time will tell.

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