All Politics is National (or at Least Statewide)

2024 Primary Election Summary

By Kenneth Besserman,
Director of Government Affairs and Special Counsel, TXCPA

March 6, 2024

AUSTIN - To turn a well-worn phrase – “All politics is local” – on its head, the primary election in Texas showed that now “all politics are national (or statewide).” The significant influence of outside money and endorsements by Governor Abbott, Attorney General Paxton and former President Trump has shaken Texas politics and will dramatically change the makeup of the Texas House of Representatives.

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On Tuesday evening, at the time of this article, 10 incumbent Republican members of the Texas House were defeated. In addition, at least eight other House Republican incumbents have been pushed into a runoff election in early May. Most significantly, House Speaker Dade Phelan – who trails David Covey 46% to 43%, will be forced into a runoff. Having the sitting House Speaker come in second in a primary is seismic. The Speaker faced opposition from the Lt. Governor, AG Paxton and former President Trump.

To give you a bit of flavor of how monumental this election was, of the 19 House incumbents who had opponents in 2021, only one incumbent lost their election. Going back several election cycles, on average only 1-2 incumbents running for reelection loses. Texas has traditionally been a very incumbent friendly election state. That is no more.

Governor Abbott and AG Paxton pushed out a number of endorsements the last several months targeting incumbent Republican House members for their anti-school voucher votes and their votes to impeach the Attorney General. In addition, there was significant national pro-voucher money dumped into Texas this election cycle targeting those against vouchers or school choice.

There were a number of well-respected members of the House who were defeated last night, including Reps. Travis Clardy, Ernest Bailes, Hugh Shine, Reggie Smith, Glenn Rogers, Steve Allison and Kronda Thimesch. Republican House members who were forced into a runoff include Speaker Phelan, Reps. Justin Holland, Lynn Stucky, Stephanie Klick, Frederick Frazier, DeWayne Burns, John Kuempel, and others.

Further demonstrating the monumental nature of this election, three Republican sitting members of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals – the highest criminal court in Texas – were ousted in the primary. The issue in those races was primarily focused, and funded, by supporters of AG Paxton who thought the court made a wrong decision on who has the authority to prosecute voter fraud in Texas. The CCA ruled that the Texas Constitution did not give the AG sole authority to prosecute voter fraud cases, angering the Attorney General.

Rep. Angie Chen Button – one of only two CPAs in the Texas Legislature – handily won her primary election but faces a very tough general election in a legislative district that is almost a true swing district and with many new voters.

On the federal side, there were very few surprises. Colin Allred won the Democratic primary for Senate to take on Ted Cruz for U.S. Senate in November. Texas Rep. Craig Goldman will head into a runoff (he was the leader in the primary race) to replace Congresswoman Kay Granger. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee won her primary in Houston after losing the mayoral election earlier this year. Texas Rep. Julie Johnson appears (she currently has 50.44% of the vote) to have won a seat in Congress to replace Colin Allred.

A monumental, seismic and unprecedented primary election. Expect more of the same in the runoff elections in a few weeks.

On top of all of that, the 2025 legislative session is just around the corner (just 312 days to go)!

Thank you to all our members who are engaged in advocacy and our TXCPA Political Action Committee.

 

 

 

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