Texas is holding primary elections for a number of important statewide and congressional races, with Texas’ embattled attorney general facing a runoff and the biggest House primary of the night unsettled. Follow along for live results.
The races and the stakes:
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott easily secured the nomination for a third term in office, fending off primary challenges from former State Sen. Don Huffines and former state GOP chairman Allen West, among others. Beto O’Rourke, a 2018 Senate nominee and 2020 presidential candidate, also secured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
O’Rourke came within three percentage points of defeating Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018, but faces an uphill battle winning statewide in a midterm year where the party in power typically loses seats and faces more challenges winning in a red state like Texas. Trump, for his part, won the Lone Star State by over five percentage points in 2020.
Not all primary elections, however, were settled on Tuesday. Texas is a runoff state, meaning if no candidate earns over 50% of the vote, the two highest-performing candidates will face off in a May 24 runoff.
Scandal-ridden Republican Attorney General and Trump ally Ken Paxton, for one, is headed to a runoff against Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush.
Paxton has been under indictment on securities fraud charges since 2015, but has yet to face trial. He is also reportedly under an FBI investigation spurred by a group of seven former employees and whistleblowers who formally accused him in late 2020 of bribery and abusing his office to benefit a wealthy real estate developer and donor. Paxton, whose office cleared him of the allegations after an internal investigation, has said the whistleblowers’ claims are “overblown, based upon assumptions, and to a large degree misrepresent the facts.”
Paxton also played a major role in aiding Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, including filing a long-shot lawsuit in the Supreme Court to overturn election results in four states that voted for President Joe Biden, which failed.
Bush beat out GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert and former Texas Supreme Justice Eva Guzman to face off against Paxton in a late May runoff. The 45-year-old land commissioner, son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and nephew of former President George W. Bush, is the only member of the Bush political dynasty currently holding elected office.
Bush’s runoff against Paxton will be not only a referendum on Paxton’s legal woes and scandals, but a test of whether the Bush family’s political brand in Texas can withstand the significant rightward shift within the Republican Party, a shift Bush has tried to adapt his message to.
The biggest remaining uncalled election in Texas, and the highest-profile House primary of the night, is the rematch between Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar and progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros in the majority Hispanic South Texas-based 28th District.
A number of candidates including former Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski, immigration attorney Rochelle Garza, and civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, are also competing in the Democratic primary for attorney general.
Texas, which gained two new House of Representatives seats as a result of the 2020 Census, is also holding its first congressional primaries under its new maps, including the Cuellar-Cisneros race.
Cuellar, a longtime centrist Democrat, defeated a primary from Cisneros, an immigration attorney and one of his former interns, in 2020. In 2022, he maintained strong institutional support in the district as well as a solid fundraising and cash-on-hand advantage.
But Cuellar also ran under a cloud of legal uncertainty after the FBI raided his Laredo home and campaign office in mid-January.
ABC News reported that the raids were connected to a “wide-ranging” federal investigation involving “US businessmen” and the country of Azerbaijan. Cuellar, the co-chair of the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus, has maintained close ties with the oil-rich former Soviet nation for years but maintains “no wrongdoing.”
A slew of Democratic and Republican candidates are also competing for their parties’ nominations for Texas’ now-open 15th District, one of the only competitive seats under the state’s new congressional map.
Tuesday’s primaries will also determine the nominees for two heavily Democratic seats: the mostly Black, Dallas-based 30th District vacated by retiring Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, and the 35th District, which stretches from Austin to San Antonio. Austin City Council member Greg Casar easily secured the Democratic nomination for the 35th District.
And on the GOP side, the crowded Republican primary to replace retiring Rep. Kevin Brady in the Houston-adjacent 8th District, led by former Navy SEAL Morgan Luttrell and Republican operative Christian Collins, is a burgeoning proxy fight between two wings of the GOP, the Texas Tribune reported.