Texas slugfests get primary season started


Texas will hold its 2022 primary elections on March 1. Runoffs are set for May 24, if candidates in individual races don’t surpass 50% of the vote.

With a volatile electorate seemingly motivated to get to the polls by skyrocketing inflation and touchstone cultural issues such as critical race theory, the Texas primaries will provide a vivid political snapshot of voters’ mood.

Here’s your guide to races to watch in the Lone Star State.

TX-01 Republican primary

Rep. Louie Gohmert has represented the 1st Congressional District since 2005, but he will not seek reelection to the House in November, as he has decided to run for attorney general instead.


For the first time in nearly two decades, voters will select a new representative. A crowded field of Republicans is vying to win the heavily Republican district in East Texas, with a base in the city of Tyler.

Businessman Aditya Atholi, businessman Joe McDaniel, Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran, and hospital executive John Porro will all be on the ballot. Originally from New York, Porro was a member of a volunteer rescue squad in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Atholi was a former intern for Gohmert.

TX-08 Republican primary

Nearly a dozen Republicans are trying to win their party’s nomination to succeed longtime Rep. Kevin Brady in the state’s 8th Congressional District, located in the leafy Houston suburbs. And two of the most prominent contenders may split the support of some of the most influential Republicans in the state.

Christian Collins, a former aide to Sen. Ted Cruz, has been endorsed by the senator, while Morgan Luttrell, a former Navy SEAL, the twin brother of Marcus Luttrell (also a Navy SEAL), and the author of Lone Survivor, has been endorsed by Texas Republicans including Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick, former Gov. Rick Perry, and Rep. Dan Crenshaw.

While both candidates have made a contest of their support for former President Donald Trump, including his unfounded claims that the 2020 election was stolen, Luttrell has faced criticism for maintaining ties with Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a staunch critic of Trump and one of just two Republicans on the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Luttrell has said that although he has disagreements with Kinzinger, he is a friend and fellow veteran. Luttrell returned a contribution from Kinzinger’s PAC that became a subject of controversy in the race.

TX-28 Democratic primary

Rep. Henry Cuellar is facing a primary challenge from the Left by immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros. Cuellar only narrowly defeated a 2020 primary challenge from Cisneros in 2020 in this Rio Grande Valley district. Now progressive activists hope they will be more successful in the rematch, which is backed by prominent progressive Democrats, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The New York congresswoman has taken aim at Cuellar on a range of issues, including his support for some anti-abortion legislation.

In an additional hurdle for Cuellar, his home and office were raided by the FBI last month as part of a federal investigation into activities related to Azerbaijan. Law enforcement officials have not yet commented on whether Cuellar himself is under investigation concerning the former Soviet republic, although the lawmaker has said he will cooperate with any investigation.

TX-30 Democratic primary

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson is among the House Democrats who will not seek reelection in November, leaving open a seat she has held since 1993. A crowded field of candidates on both sides of the aisle are running for the seat, including at least nine Democrats. Johnson has endorsed State Rep. Jasmine Crockett to replace her. The winner of the Democratic nomination will likely win the general election, as the Dallas-based district is one of the bluest in Texas.

TX-34 Democratic primary

Texas’s redistricting process left the 15th Congressional District more competitive for Republicans, so its incumbent, Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, announced he would seek reelection in the neighboring 34th District instead, a safer seat for Democrats. According to the Texas Tribune, redistricting left Gonzalez’s residence in the 34th District. He is one of seven Democrats seeking to replace the South Texas district’s incumbent, Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela, who is among several retiring House Democrats.

TX-35 Democratic primary

Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett chose to seek reelection in a new Austin-based district, leaving an open seat and a crowded Democratic primary in his wake. But two candidates have emerged as the most prominent in the race: former Austin City Councilman Greg Casar and State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez. Casar has attracted the support of prominent Democrats, including Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders. But Rodriguez has hit Casar on some of his Austin policies, including efforts to reduce the police budget.

The winner of the primary will likely win the general election in the heavily Democratic district.

TX-38 Democratic primary

Several Democrats are seeking to win one of two new congressional districts added to the state due to its population growth, including Duncan Klussmann, a former superintendent, Diana Martinez Alexander, a community activist, and businesswoman Centrell Reed.

The winner of the primary will likely face Republican front-runner Wesley Hunt, an army veteran who ran a narrow race against Democratic Rep. Lizzie Panhill Fletcher in 2020 while running in another Houston-area district. Hunt seems better positioned to win his race this cycle.

Republican gubernatorial primary

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott faces seven primary challengers to his reelection bid: businessman Don Huffines, ex-state GOP Chairman Allen West, conservative media personality Chad Prather, philanthropist Kandy Kaye Horn, attorney Paul Belew, businessman Danny Harrison, and a Rick Perry who is not the same Rick Perry that was previously the governor of Texas.

The chances of any of Abbott’s challengers unseating him are slim: Abbott currently leads his likely Democratic challenger former Rep. Beto O’Rourke by 47% to 37%, and no incumbent governor of Texas has lost their party’s nomination since 1978, according to Ballotpedia.


State attorney general nomination

Incumbent Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton may face a runoff election if he fails to secure at least 50% of the vote against his primary challengers Gohmert, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, and former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman.

A recent University of Texas poll found Paxton below the threshold but in the lead with 47% of the vote, Bush with 21%, Guzman with 16%, and Gohmert with 15%.

Paxton has been endorsed by Trump in the race, but scandals and legal troubles have plagued his candidacy.


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