Paxton vs. Bush for AG, race to replace Eddie Bernice Johnson highlights Texas playoffs

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It’s understandable to feel like the Texas primaries are taking forever to complete. The first round of elections took place on March 1, a long way from the date of the second round of May 24.

The wait is coming to an end.

On Monday, early voting for Texas’ runoff begins and will continue through May 20.

After the regular elections on May 24, we will know the candidates for the state, congressional and local political contests.

Most of the primary races were determined in March, but there are still several high-profile elections to be determined.

Here’s a look at where some of those races are.

GOP race for Attorney General

Republican incumbent Ken Paxton is seeking his third term as attorney general. He is facing a 2015 securities fraud indictment, as well as an FBI investigation into allegations of bribery and bribery by several former staffers.

For some politicians, these legal issues would be too much for a campaign to bear. For Paxton, who is up against Lands Commissioner George P. Bush, that hasn’t been a problem.

He topped the field on March 1 against No. 2 Bush, as well as former Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman and Tyler’s U.S. Representative Louie Gohmert.

Although not winning his race without a second round could be seen as a minor setback, Paxton, who has the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, hasn’t been pushed hard this primary season. He dodged debates and forums with Bush and didn’t spend the kind of money you’d expect in such a high-profile race, and he still has a double-digit lead in the four most recent polls by The Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler.

In the latest poll released on Sunday, the incumbent’s lead is now 6 percentage points (41-35, which is within the poll’s margin of error).

I expect Paxton to allocate some of his campaign money, possibly $1.5 million, toward buying a campaign TV ad for precautionary reasons. But like most political observers, he thinks the nomination is child’s play.

George P. Bush, who is in a runoff with Attorney General Ken Paxton, speaks during a Texans United for Texas meeting in Colleyville, Texas, Thursday, May 5, 2022.(Michael Ainsworth / Special Contributor)
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton chats with supporters during primary election night...
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton chats with supporters during a primary election night Tuesday, March 1, 2022 in McKinney, Texas.(Smiley N. Pool / Staff Photographer)

For his part, Bush is trying to finish strong. He has recently taken far-right positions on immigration and border security. He said he hopes to overturn a longstanding court ruling that offers free public education to undocumented immigrant children. And he called on Texas to declare an “invasion” of the border so state troopers and National Guard members could begin returning migrants to Mexico.

Bush’s tougher stance on immigration and migrant issues comes as most primary voters don’t seem to care about his core campaign message that Paxton is damaged property who could be beaten by a Democrat in November. .

Democratic race for attorney general

The first ballot for attorney general between former ACLU attorney Rochelle Garza and former Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski is expected to be seen as the second most important race for Texas Democrats seeking to end a 28-year drought winning statewide contests.

In theory, Paxton’s legal setbacks leave him vulnerable in a general election. That means Democrats must come up with an opponent who can take advantage of Paxton’s troubles and win.

Garza and Jaworski will not be as well funded as the GOP nominee, whether Paxton or Bush. And they lack name recognition statewide. Still, Democrats need to be motivated to pick the candidate who will do the best or who will upset.

Jaworki was the first Democrat in the race, while Garza jumped in late last year and gained momentum. She beat Jaworski by a 43%-20% margin to finish first in March and led 35%-20% in The news and the UT-Tyler poll.

Democratic race for lieutenant governor

Incumbent Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick firmly controls the Texas Senate and influences legislation more than anyone else in the Lone Star State.

Democrats will try to derail Patrick from a third term with Houston-area accountant Mike Collier or state Rep. Michelle Beckley of Carrollton.

State Representative Michelle Beckley, D-Carrollton, greets a colleague to begin the special session on...
State Representative Michelle Beckley, D-Carrollton, greets a colleague to begin the special session on July 8, 2021. (Bob Daemmrich/Bob Daemmrich/CapitolPressPhoto)

Collier was the 2018 nominee against Patrick. He lost that race by just over 5 percentage points, although Patrick did not mount a serious campaign. In 2014, Collier ran unsuccessfully for Controller of Texas.

Whether it’s the candidates’ lack of resources or voters’ lack of interest, this contest has been a sleepy affair. A whopping 44% of Democrats who responded to The news and UT-Tyler’s poll found they weren’t sure who to support.

Beckley led among all racial and ethnic groups, including 33% to 18% among Latinos, according to the poll. She perked up this month after a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion was leaked that would overturn Roe v Wade,

If Collier can’t make a good showing against Beckley, who is running for statewide office for the first time, that doesn’t bode well for the general election.

Race to replace U.S. Representative Johnson in District 30

In March, State Rep. Jasmine Crockett of Dallas garnered 48% of the vote in a nine-person field to finish first in the primary to replace retired U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson. But she didn’t go over 50%, which would have outright won the race. Now Crockett is in a runoff against Jane Hope Hamilton, chief of staff for U.S. Representative Marc Veasey.

With such a first-round performance, Crockett is favored to win on May 24. His biggest advantage is an endorsement from Johnson, who should be active in promoting Crockett.

The freshman state legislator is also supported by others, including Dallas County Commissioner Elba Garcia and prominent Dallas cabinet minister Frederick Haynes III.

State Representative Jasmine Crockett awaits Texas primary election results in Dallas on...
State Representative Jasmine Crockett waits for the results of the Texas primary election in Dallas on Tuesday, March 1, 2022. Crockett is the frontrunner in the race to replace retired U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson.(Lola Gomez / Staff Photographer)
District 30 race candidate Jane Hamilton speaks at her town hall at...
District 30 running candidate Jane Hamilton speaks at her town hall at the Duncanville Recreation Center in Duncanville, Texas on February 8, 2022.(Liesbeth Powers / Special Contributor)

But Hamilton, who finished second in March with 17% of the vote, has the support of Ron Kirk, the former U.S. Trade Representative and mayor of Dallas, as well as Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price and Senator of State Royce West.

Johnson, Kirk, Price and West have been the biggest names in local Democratic politics, making this contest intriguing, though Hamilton is still seen as the underdog.

Both women have commercials airing on cable television. In the first round, two super PACs controlled by cryptocurrency financiers spent around $1 million each to boost Crockett. These groups haven’t lost as much money on behalf of Crockett this time around, though they’ve spent far less on cable and digital ads, and more may be on the way.

While Hamilton’s challenge is to turn the tide on a seemingly insurmountable deficit, Crockett must make sure his supporters realize the race isn’t over and they must run for the second round.

North Texas House races to watch

Dallas County

In North Dallas’ District 114, former Congressman and State House member John Bryant tries to make a comeback. He’s in a runoff against Dallas attorney Alexandra Guio, who finished first in the March primary.

Guio is running for office for the first time and says it better reflects the diverse district, which includes a younger emerging population. Bryant said the era of Trump, in which the country’s democracy is at stake, needs an experienced hand that can effectively combat the extreme agenda of the GOP.

In South Dallas’ House District 100, the Democratic establishment rallied with first-time candidate Venton Jones against former Dallas councilman Sandra Crenshaw.

In March, Crenshaw finished first, stunning party loyalists who did not want the perennial candidate for the Legislative Assembly.

Is the support of Kirk, Price, West and others enough to help Jones get the win against Crenshaw, who has better notoriety?

Collins County

In Collin County, there are three ballots — two for the GOP and one for the Democrats.

District 70, which was redrawn to slightly favor the Democrats, has a Democratic primary that features Cassandra Garcia Hernandez against Mihaela Plesa.

On the Republican side, Jamee Jolly takes on Eric Bowlin, an army veteran and real estate professional. Jolly is the former President and CEO of the Plano Chamber of Commerce and former Executive Director of the Greater Dallas Restaurant Association.

Although President Joe Biden scored a comfortable victory in this district over former President Donald Trump, national headwinds for Democrats in 2022 make the area closer to purple than true blue.

In House District 61, former McKinney board member Frederick Frazier is in a GOP runoff against former Navy commander and real estate professional Paul Chabot. The winner of the heavily Republican district will face Democrat Sheena King in November.

Tarrant County

In Tarrant County, incumbent State Representative Stephanie Klick is fighting for her political life against insurgent Republican David Lowe.

A defeat for Klick would be a blow to House Speaker Dade Phelan and Republicans trying to discourage those primary challengers.

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