Around the Texas Capitol: Primary ballots set for an expected active election cycle

Around the Texas Capitol: Primary ballots set for an expected active election cycle

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Note: Content below was posted and current as of Dec. 18, 2023

Around the Texas Capitol:
Primary ballots set for an expected active election cycle

By Lauren Fairbanks and J Pete Laney
TAD Governmental Affairs

The deadline for a candidate to file for a spot on the March 5 primary election ballot struck on Dec. 11. We now have a final slate of candidates for the upcoming election cycle, which will conclude with the Nov. 5 general election.

This will be a very active election cycle with a large amount of money spent, particularly in the months leading up to the primary. Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton have both promised to take an active role in primary races this cycle. Abbott will focus his backing on pro-school choice candidates while Paxton will be active in races against incumbents who supported impeachment proceedings against him.

There are two open seats in the Texas Senate: Drew Springer (R-Muenster) is retiring and John Whitmire (D-Houston) has been elected mayor of Houston. Whitmire’s Senate District 15 hasn’t been an open seat in 40 years; Whitmire was the longest serving Senate member – the Dean of the Texas Senate – ahead of his departure. Of the 15 senators up for reelection, only Nathan Johnson (D-Dallas) has a primary challenger. Seven have general election opponents.

The Texas House will have a larger turnover going into the 2025 legislative session. There are 16 open House seats where members have announced they will not seek reelection. Additionally, 33 incumbents have drawn a primary challenge. Thirty-two House incumbents have a general election opponent and 32 have both primary and general election challengers. House Speaker Dade Phelan is losing five of his chairs and four of his vice chairs, based on retirements alone.

It is notable that all 16 House Republicans who voted against a school choice/voucher program and are seeking reelection have a primary opponent. These primary campaigns will likely be the most active this cycle. Challengers in six of those races already have received endorsements from the governor.

This will be a critical election cycle for rural Texas and for agriculture. As the state’s population continues to grow in the urban and suburban areas and shrink in rural areas of the state, it becomes even more important than ever to have elected officials with an understanding and appreciation for Texas’ roots in agriculture. We’ll continue to monitor and report on these races as developments happen in the coming months.

While the filing deadline was nearing, the Texas Legislature wrapped up its Fourth Called Special Session on Dec. 5, a day earlier than the 30-day deadline. The House and Senate did not come to an agreement on school choice and some border related measures. For now, elected officials will go home and begin the work of campaigning until the governor calls them back again, though it is not yet clear whether he will make a fifth attempt at passing some version of school choice.

There is much to watch for as we wrap up this year and look to the next. We hope you all have a peaceful holiday season and look forward to hitting the ground running in 2024!

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