Texas Gov. Abbott, Beto O’Rourke Secure Gubernatorial Noms as Primaries Trigger GOP Runoff

© REUTERS / Lucas JacksonTexas Governor Greg Abbott speaks at the annual National Rifle Association (NRA) convention in Dallas, Texas, U.S., May 4, 2018
Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks at the annual National Rifle Association (NRA) convention in Dallas, Texas, U.S., May 4, 2018 - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.03.2022
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will face off against Beto O’Rourke (D) in November, as the two-term incumbent and former US congressman both secured their respective party’s nomination in Tuesday’s primaries. Additionally, a GOP runoff for AG is set for May, with Trump-endorsed incumbent Ken Paxton facing billionaire-backed challenger George P. Bush.
Texas voters who took part in Tuesday’s primary elections widely rejected progressive state government candidates from both sides of the aisle, resulting in several predictable GOP and Democrat nominations ahead of the general elections on November 8.
Abbott, endorsed by former US President Donald Trump, and seeking a third gubernatorial term, was the clear victor in the GOP primary, quickly beating out a slew of right-wing opponents by surpassing the necessary 50% support threshold to avoid a runoff election.
“Tonight, Republicans sent a message,” Abbott told supporters during a Tuesday night speech. “They want to keep Texas on the extraordinary path of opportunity that we have provided over the past eight years.”
Conservative critics and individuals running against Abbott for the GOP nomination stated that the Texas government had an insufficient conservative response to the COVID-19 pandemic and illegal crossings at the US-Mexico border.
Abbott, who observed a dip in base support over early COVID-19 lockdowns, made a political power move with an order issued last week that calls on the child welfare agency in the state to probe gender-affirming medical treatment for trangender youth, as the practice could, according to the GOP, amount to abuse. The incumbent governor’s decision comes as part of a slew of socially-conservative measures he has introduced ahead of the November election.

A Democrat has not been elected to the Texas state government since 1994.

Beto O’Rourke, real name Robert Francis O'Rourke, an El Paso, Texas, native, and a former US representative for Texas’ 16th House District, has secured the state gubernatorial nomination for the Democratic Party.
“THANK YOU, TEXAS! We are going to win this race with one another, for one another,” O’Rourke tweeted Tuesday night.
O’Rourke rose to national fame in a narrow loss to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in the 2018 Senate race, and further increased his US name recognition during a failed 2020 presidential campaign for the Democratic nomination.
The former US lawmaker from Texas has been vocal about his opposition to Abbott’s government, telling Nexstar’s Maggie Glynn that state Republicans have blood on their hands in association with the 2021 winter blackout and power grid debacle that resulted in over 200 deaths in Texas and allegations of price fixing at the capitol.
“You know, I think there’s no shortage of reasons for people to fire Greg Abbott as governor,” he said in a November 2021 interview with the outlet.
O’Rourke also pushed back on Abbott’s education policy, as well as the latter’s COVID-19 pandemic response, attributing the then-72,000 deaths related to the coronavirus to Abbott’s “failure to meet the challenges” of the pandemic.
The gubernatorial race between Abbott and O’Rourke is expected to be one of the most contentious state elections in the past 30 years. At the same time, new voting legislation in the state has reportedly led to an increase in ballot rejections and new accusations of voter suppression by the GOP.
Per a UT Tyler/Dallas Morning News poll conducted between January 18 and January 25, Abbott held a mere seven percentage point advantage over O’Rourke.
Dan Patrick, the 42nd lieutenant governor of Texas since January 2015, and Comptroller Glenn Hegar, who has held the Public Accounts position since 2014, are two incumbents who also secured the GOP nomination.
Meanwhile, embattled Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, has seen a loss in support since his 2015 indictment in a federal campaign finance-related probe. The FBI’s indictment remains active.
Paxton’s waning support and questionable conduct has allowed for the emergence of Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush - the eldest son of former Republican Florida politician and sometime presidential candidate Jeb Bush as a possible nominee.
Tuesday’s ballot submissions have triggered a runoff primary between Paxton and Bush in May.
“Last night, over 57% of Texas voters made a statement at the ballot box: corruption will not be tolerated in our state,” Bush tweeted on Wednesday. “Paxton, I look forward to holding you accountable to Texans for your crimes.”
“I guess what I’d say is, clearly, to the establishment: they got what they wanted,” Paxton - who is considered by many to be part of the long-standing Texas political elite - said in an address to supporters late Tuesday night. “They got me in a runoff.”
The Texas Democratic primary for attorney general is also projected to advance to a runoff.
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