Midterm Roundup: Everything’s Bigger in Texas

In today’s midterm roundup: Texas holds 2022’s first primaries, a New York Times writer’s governor bid implodes, and a liberal House candidate gets plastered at a kids’ slumber party.

State of Play – February 26

Lone Star Primary Preview

Texas holds the first primary elections of the 2022 cycle on Tuesday. Republicans have won every Texas statewide election since 1998. Most of the action on primary day will be on the Republican side. Candidates must win the primary with 50% to avoid a May 24 runoff election.

Governor: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is seeking a third term. Abbott is being challenged by ex-TX GOP chair/ex-FL Rep. Allen West and TX Sen. Don Huffines. It’d be shocking if Abbott was forced into a runoff, which would be a blow to Abbott’s rumored 2024 presidential ambitions. Abbott is favored over failed presidential/Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke (D) in the general.

Attorney General (R): Indicted incumbent AG Ken Paxton (R) is being challenged by three prominent GOPers in the primary: TX Land Commissioner George P. Bush (Jeb’s son), ex-TX Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, and US Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-01). A runoff is expected.

Texas’s 1st (R): Rep. Louie Gohmert’s decision to run for TX Attorney General left this ruby red East Texas seat open. Primary seems to be a four-way race between Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran, ex-Gohmert staffer Aditya Atholi, hospital executive Joe Porro and businessman Joe McDaniel.

Texas’s 8th (R): Ex-House Ways & Means Chair Kevin Brady’s retirement opened up this exurban Houston seat. Retired Navy SEAL Morgan Luttrell (twin of Lone Survivor author Marcus) and businessman Christian Collins are the two leading candidates. Politico called the Luttrell-Collins contest a proxy battle for the future of the GOP and “an early test of Kevin McCarthy’s potential speakership.”

Texas’s 15th: Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D) jumped ship for the more solidly blue TX-34. Donald Trump did better in the Rio Grande Valley than any previous GOP nominee, giving the GOP hope they can flip this RGV-based seat. Insurance agent Monica de la Cruz-Hernandez (R) is favored in the GOP primary, while the Democratic primary is wide-open.

Texas’s 28th (D): Leftist activist Jessica Cisneros is back for a second attempt to defeat moderate Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo). The FBI raided Cuellar’s home and office in January.

Texas’s 30th (D): Dallas Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson’s retirement kicked off a scramble for this safe Democratic seat. Johnson endorsed TX Rep. Jasmine Crockett. This will likely go to a runoff.

Texas’s 35th (D), Texas’s 38th (R): Texas gained two additional seats after the census. The new Austin-based TX-35 is safe blue, with AOC-endorsed Greg Casar and TX Rep. Eddie Rodriguez looking like the leading candidates. 2020 candidate/Army vet Wesley Hunt (R) is the frontrunner for solidly red TX-38.

Primary Challenges: GOP Reps. Van Taylor (TX-03), Chip Roy (TX-21), Michael Burgess (TX-26), and Michael Cloud (TX-27) all face primary challengers. It’s unlikely any will be forced into runoffs or defeated outright. But given recent Texas history and new lines, there could be surprises.

Battle for the Senate

Oklahoma: Sen. Jim Inhofe (R) announced he would resign his seat in January 2023, triggering a special election. Inhofe won his seat in the 1994 Republican Revolution and was most recently reelected in 2020. Inhofe endorsed his top aide, Luke Holland, to succeed him. Ex-state House Speaker T.W. Shannon and US Reps. Kevin Hern and Markwayne Mullin, all Republicans, are reportedly interested as well.

Vermont: Former US Attorney for Vermont Christina Nolan (R) entered the open Senate race to Sen. Pat Leahy (D). Nolan would be the underdog against Vermont’s at-large Rep. Peter Welch (D) in a state that hasn’t elected a Republican to federal office since 2000. Nolan would be the first woman and LGBT person to represent Vermont in Congress.

Washington: Respected elections forecaster Sabato’s Crystal Ball moved this Senate race into competitive territory this week. Polls are showing a surprisingly competitive race between entrenched incumbent Sen. Patty Murray (D) and veterans’ advocate Tiffany Smiley (R). Washington is usually solidly blue but Murray also had a close call during the 2010 GOP wave.

Governors’ Races

Oregon (Democratic primary): Ex-New York Times columnist Nick Kristof’s governor bid imploded on Feb. 17 after the OR Supreme Court ruled him ineligible for not meeting Oregon’s residency requirements. Treasurer Tobias Read and ex-Speaker Tina Kotek are now the frontrunners.

Pennsylvania (GOP primary): PA Sen. Doug Mastriano was subpoenaed by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The committee is looking into Mastriano’s actions on January 6 and his role in a scheme to send pro-Trump electors in spite of Biden’s victory in PA. On top of that, one of Mastriano’s rivals, PA Senate President Jake Corman, called for a prosecutor to probe Mastriano’s campaign for commiting “flagrant and willful violations” of campaign finance law and possibly committing perjury.

The House of Representatives

Minnesota’s 1st: Two-term Rep. Jim Hagedorn tragically died of cancer on Feb. 17. The special election will be on Aug. 9. Hagedorn flipped this seat in 2016, and it should say in GOP hands.

New York’s 4th: Rep. Kathleen Rice, a Pelosi critic, became the 30th House Democrat to retire. Her departure makes competitive primaries for both parties likely. Democrats suffered losses in 2021 Long Island local elections, giving the GOP hope they can flip this Nassau County seat.

Oklahoma’s 5th: Candidate Abby Broyles (D) went on a one-woman bender at a preteen girls’ slumber party. Broyles used profane language to mock the girls’ acne and ethnicity before puking in a laundry basket and on a girl’s shoes. Broyles used the Roseanne Barr defense and blamed sleeping pills.

West Virginia’s 2nd: West Virginia lost a House seat, kicking off a game of musical chairs. Rep. Alex Mooney (R) has Donald Trump in his corner, while Rep. David McKinley (R) just picked up GOP Gov. Jim Justice’s endorsement in their member v. member primary. Justice attacked Mooney as a corrupt carpetbagger and praised McKinley’s vote for the infrastructure bill.

Wyoming’s at-large (GOP): House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy took the rare step of backing a primary challenge to one of his own incumbents. McCarthy endorsed 2018 WY governor candidate Harriet Hageman in her race against incumbent Rep. Liz Cheney.

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© Dominic Moore, 2022