The last week has been action packed and full of excitement for political junkies. In the latest update “From the Campaign Trail”, we bring you the most significant developments so you can stay up to date and catch anything you may have missed.
National mood shifts against Democrats:
The assessment of the political landscape really wouldn’t be complete without first setting the backdrop by taking note of the national political climate. Election results from both the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial races produced huge swings away from Democrats in favor of the Republican Party. Even in Texas, Republicans managed to flip a traditionally blue, majority Hispanic district in San Antonio. President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress misread their narrow victory in 2020 as a mandate and have reached too far. Now they are facing the backlash as voters push down the brakes on the progressive agenda. If Biden was shrewd, he would heed the warning signs and change course towards the center, like Bill Clinton did after his historic defeats in the 1994 midterms. However, Biden is no Bill Clinton, and all indications point towards a banner year for Republicans in the 2022 midterms.
Governor: Good news for Abbott
The University of Texas and Texas Tribune are out with an interesting poll on the 2022 midterms in Texas. You can read more about it here. The poll shows Governor Greg Abbott (46%) leading potential Democratic nominee Beto O’Rourke (37%) by 9 points in a hypothetical general election match-up.
The poll asked Republican respondents who they would support in the primary. Abbott has a significant lead over his primary challengers, at 56%. The closest opponent was former Texas GOP Chairman Allen West, at 16%, followed by former State Sen. Don Huffines at 7% and entertainer Chad Prather at 4%. The polls methodology was somewhat flawed, as it did not screen for likely primary voters. It is also very early in the race. At this point the poll is mostly an indicator of name ID.
Attorney General: Paxton Leads
If primary polling this far out from the election is mostly just a question of name ID, it seems like incumbent Attorney General Ken Paxton has the lead. The poll showed Paxton at 48%, followed by his closest competitor, Land Commissioner George P. Bush at 16%. State Representative Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth) polls at 3%, while former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman polls at 2%. Still, while Paxton’s numbers lead looks fairly large now, his opponents are all serious, well funded candidates, so expect the race to tighten as election day approaches.
Land Commissioner: Trump Weighs In
The front-runner to replace George P. Bush at the General Land Office, Dawn Buckingham, received a substantial boost to her campaign in the form of the most coveted endorsement a candidate can receive in a GOP primary: former president Donald Trump. “Dawn has my Complete and Total Endorsement,” the former president stated.
Congressional District 8: 3 Way Race
The most significant news affecting the race to replace retiring Congressman in Texas 8th District isn’t about a candidate who’s actually running, but rather, who isn’t running. State Rep. Steve Toth (R-Conroe), widely considered to be a potential top tier contender for the seat, announced earlier this week that he would not be running for congress, but instead would seek re-election to his house seat.
In the aftermath of Toth’s decision not to run, the CD-08 GOP primary is shaping up to be a three man race, with the top three candidates being: retired Navy SEAL Morgan Luttrell, political strategist Christian Collins, and attorney Jonathan Hullian, in that order.
Luttrell is leading in fundraising, and has some big-name endorsers including former governor Rick Perry, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and Congressman Dan Crenshaw (R-TX). Perry and Patrick recently appeared at the grand opening of Luttrell’s campaign headquarters to show their support.
However, Collins is also well funded and has some high-profile supporters of his own. Soon after announcing his candidacy, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz released a statement endorsing Collins. House Freedom Action, a PAC affiliated with the House Freedom Caucus, has dropped nearly $244,000 into Collins’ campaign.
While Hullihan is still behind Luttrell and Collins in the money game, he has raised some. The former Navy JAG has an impressive resume, and an intellect to match. Toth’s decision not to run leaves the Tea Party lane largely open, which could benefit the staunchly conservative Hullihan. Although not quite at the level of Luttrell and Collins when it comes to conventional campaign strength, Hullihan is still a very viable candidate and should not be ruled out.
To summarize the state of the CD-08 race: Luttrell and Collins are in the top tier, with a small edge going to Luttrell. Hullihan is drafting just behind the two front-runners, with everyone else running quite a ways back. CD-08 is a heavily Republican district, so none of the Democrats running are going to be viable.
After what happened in Virginia this week, I suspect there are going to be a lot more districts where Democrats’ chances will be very poor.