The Most Interesting Primary Races in Texas to Look Out for

by | May 24, 2022 | 2022 Elections, News

Tuesday marks Election Day for primary runoff races around the state. Here’s our roundup of the top races to keep an eye on, and what they might mean for Lone Star State politics and beyond.

Jessica Cisneros v. Henry Cuellar

There is still little doubt the Democratic primary in Texas’ 28th Congressional District is the most closely watched primary in the state, maybe even the country.

Long-time incumbent and conservative Democrat Henry Cuellar is facing a serious amount of pressure from immigrant rights attorney Jessica Cisneros and just about everyone in Democratic politics (except party leadership).

The contest has attracted the attention of major unions, pro-choice groups and progressives like Justice Democrats who are all pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the race in an attempt to punish Cuellar’s anti-abortion, anti-labor voting record. 

Since the release of a leaked Supreme Court decision revealed the imminent repeal of Roe v. Wade, the race has again made it to the national spotlight; Cuellar was the only House Democrat to vote against codifying federal protections for abortion.

In truth, it’s hard to see how a single congressional race will have that much of an outsized impact on Democratic politics in Washington and much of its Senate-stalled agenda. If Cisneros wins, its greatest impact will of course be in South Texas, where the type of politics Cisneros champions was thought to be native only to distant New York boroughs.

Judging from the millions of dollars involved in the race, that perception has most likely already changed forever.

Mike Collier v. Michelle Beckley 

Former auditor Mike Collier and state Rep. Michelle Beckley faceoff in the race for Texas Lieutant Governor. Notably, according to a Dallas Morning News poll, Beckley polls higher than Collier by double digits despite Collier’s fundraising advantage.

Ken Paxton v. George P. Bush

How much do the stinging words of Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who recently called the various scandals of indicted Attorney General Ken Paxton an “embarrassment,” really matter? How far will the family name of George P. Bush carry him? 

Some of these questions will be answered Tuesday. But most likely, for a party still enthused with former President Trump who has endorsed Paxton along with most high-profile Texas Republicans, the answer will probably be: not much.

Rochelle Garza v. Joe Jaworski

Following Ken Paxton’s and the legislature’s attacks on abortion rights, former ACLU attorney Rochelle Garza and former Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski have both committed to protecting abortion rights in the state. 

Garza, who comfortably led the primary in March and was only several points short of winning the contest outright, is best known for taking the Trump administration to court over abortion rights for immigrants. It explains why most pro-choice groups, like NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood, are backing Garza as the more serious candidate on reproductive rights.

Jasmine Crockett v. Jane Hope Hamilton

Both retiring incumbent Eddie Bernice Johnson and progressive groups have endorsed state Rep. Jasmine Crockett in the race for Texas’ 30th Congressional District.

Her opponent, former Biden campaign staffer Jane Hamilton, has never served in elected office, but has still managed to raise a serious warchest and gather a number of endorsements from Dallas Democrats that make it impossible to count her out. 

Much of that points to some nasty establishment v. new blood feuding, which can leave outside observers wondering what exactly is the point of burning so much North Texas cash against a media popular, fresh face that aims to shake up Washington politics? 

Jay Kleberg vs. Sandragrace Martinez

With infinitely more funding as well as the endorsement of practically every Texas Democratic lawmaker and activist organization, Kleberg is the odds on favorite in this race.

Kleberg is a long-time conservationist focusing his campaign on mitigating the effects of climate change, and he has pledged the rectify the Land Office’s regularly discriminatory appropriation of federal disaster relief funds under George P. Bush.

Ben Chou v. Lesley Briones

Former civil court judge Lesley Briones and former Harris County elections official Ben Chou  are competing to kick out one of the last two Republicans in Harris County Commissioners Court.

As the race has inched closer to Election Day, things have gotten pretty heated in the local Harris County race for Precinct 4. On Sunday, the Houston LGBTQ+ Political Caucus condemned an attack ad released by Briones, accusing the campaign of using anti-Asian tropes in an attack ad that modified Chou’s facial features. Briones has since apologized for the ad, hopefully leaving just enough time for the race to get back to the bread and butter issues that affect the state’s most populous county.

Neeta Sane v. Dexter McCoy 

Former Houston Community College trustee Neeta Sane and former Fort Bend County Chief of Staff Dexter McCoy are competing for the Fort Bend County Precinct 4 Commissioner seat after incumbent Ken DeMerchant placed third in the primary election. 

148 votes separated the two candidates in the primary election, with Sane leading slightly over Mc’Coy. 

All eyes are on Fort Bend after it was revealed Sane serves as an HOA member for the Bridgewater Homeowners Association located in Precinct 3 commissioner lines. And 
McCoy has a history of working in the Fort Bend County public service level in education and for County Judge KP George.

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