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2022 Political Cycle Already Underway in Texas

With the close of the regular legislative session, the jockeying for position in 2022 state and congressional elections has begun in earnest, with potential statewide GOP primary races garnering the most high-profile activity.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will seek re-election in 2022 and was endorsed last week by former U.S. President Donald J. Trump.

On the heels of that endorsement came word that Texas state GOP chairman Allen West, a former U.S. congressman from Florida, was stepping down from the Republican Party job to consider a statewide office run, potentially a gubernatorial one.

Former state Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, already had announced he was running to oust Abbott in the primary election.

Current Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, R-Austin, announced last week that he will challenge indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, R-McKinney.

Trump has not yet weighed in on the contest, but said he is eyeing an endorsement in the race.

He has endorsed Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s bid for re-election.

There will be at least four open seat congressional races in 2022 and at least one open seat statewide race.

Two of the congressional races will come from the retirements of U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, in southeast Texas’ CD 8, and U.S. Rep. Filemón Vela, D-Brownsville, in the Rio Grande Valley’s CD 34.

Texas also picked up two new congressional seats in the 2020 census.

These will likely be added Texas metro areas which have seen large increases in population in the last decade.

Bush’s announcement noted above opens up the Land Commissioner post.

On Monday, Sen. Dawn Buckingham, R-Lakeway, announced her intention to seek the job.  

Redistricting and the March 2022 Primary Election
Lawmakers have been told to expect a fall special session on redistricting which will determine the boundary lines for existing and new state and congressional districts.

The filing window for those offices is currently scheduled to open on Nov. 14 and close on Dec. 14.

Once the fall special session ends, veteran political watchers expect Democrats to challenge some of the statehouse and congressional district maps in the courts.

Court wrangling over the political districts drawn in 2011 led to court challenges that postponed the March 2012 primary.

The delay of two months to May of that year, and the resulting primary runoff in July, led to an upset win in one high profile race, the GOP U.S. Senate primary.

Political newcomer, former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz, R-Houston, bested political veteran, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, R-Austin, and went on to become Texas’ junior U.S. Senator in November.

Could this year’s expected court fights spill over into 2022 and delay the March 2, 2022, primary?

It is a distinct possibility based on the 2012 experience and the current acrimonious Texas political landscape.

Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, filed a bill in the recent session to push back the filing and primary dates should court challenges be unresolved by a certain timetable.

While the Senate approved SB 1822, the bill did not advance in the House.

Those involved in the state’s elections operations say lawmakers could file similar legislation in the fall redistricting special session if the call were opened by Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Austin.

While TAB cannot predict the likelihood that the 2022 March primary will take place as currently scheduled, for now it would be wise for station staff to plan for a busier second quarter in political advertising income, rather than the usual first quarter deluge.

Broadcasters will have a better idea of the timetable and playing field as the year closes.

Questions? Contact TAB’s Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.

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