Texas Democrats and Republicans can now file for a spot in the March primaries. Offices on the ballot include governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and both state and federal legislative seats. The combination of continuing political polarization, even within political parties, and the redistricting process has already made some forthcoming matchups.
Gromer Jeffers of The Dallas Morning News joined the Texas Standard to count down five races to watch this primary season.
Listen to the interview above or read the transcript below.
This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:
Texas Standard: For number five, you have focused on the crowded GOP primary for attorney general. What stands out to you there?
Gromer Jeffers: Can the incumbent, Attorney General Ken Paxton hold back the rest of the field on the strength of former President Donald Trump’s endorsement? It’s a field that includes George P. Bush, State Rep. Matt Krause, former Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman and maybe Congressman Louie Gohmert – we’ll see if he gets in. That’s a fascinating race to watch play out. We’ll see if they all file, but if they do, that’s a crowded field for a sitting, two-term incumbent.
Number four is a U.S. representative race in North Texas. Tell us about it.
Van Taylor, the Republican incumbent in Collin County, voted for the January 6th commission in the House, which led to a lot of Trump conservatives being mad in Collin County, and perhaps to the candidacy of Keith Self, the former Collin County judge. That will be a great race because we’ll see if Taylor, who is known as a staunch conservative in most circles, has to pay a price for defying Trump and Trump supporters related to the January 6th issue.
Let’s move on to number three. U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson is involved here. Tell us more.
Will she run? Will she not? Eddie Bernice Johnson has a big announcement on Saturday. We’ll see what she does. There has been speculation that she’ll retire. Because of that, and this has happened before, numerous contenders are thinking about running, including a couple of state reps. But my sense of it is that she may come back. We’ll see, but she’s going to tell us Saturday in Dallas what her plans are.
Number two and number one – we are talking gubernatorial politics here. Number two?
You know Beto O’Rourke is in the race for governor. We know this: he can raise lots of money. He raised $80 million for his Senate campaign. He’s a great organizer and he can generate enthusiasm. The question is, can he win? He says he can, because 7 million people didn’t vote in the 2020 election. Those 7 million, he thinks, are Democrats. We’ll see if he can get Democrats over the top. We haven’t had a Democratic governor since Ann Richards in 1990. A Democrat hasn’t won statewide since 1994. It’s a tough fight for him. But it will be an interesting race because he is a dynamic candidate.
Number one, you’ve got this Republican primary for the governor’s seat. Say more.
Yes. The question is: can a former state senator, Donald Huffines, and former Texas GOP party chairman Allen West mount a challenge against Greg Abbott in the Republican primary for governor? There will be other candidates as well. Now, the conventional answer is probably not, right? Abbott is seemingly a popular incumbent. He’s a former attorney general, a former Supreme Court justice. But there’s something about the conservative right- Trump conservatives – where a candidate can catch fire if they latch on to the right issue. What’s helping Abbott is that he is endorsed by Trump, the former president. But in the summer, Trump was pushing Abbott on the election audit and things like that. And so the question is, can Abbott hold that sort of far-right conservative base when some of them are mad at him because of mask mandates and the fact that he supported a shutdown in order to bend the curve when the coronavirus pandemic first got underway?