Texas voters will cast their ballots on Tuesday in a handful of runoff elections, including the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, a string of House seats and the attorney general. Polls open in most of the state at 8 a.m. ET and close at 8 p.m. ET.
Texas law specifies that to win an election, a candidate must garner over 50% of the vote. The runoffs are being held after a number of races in Texas’ March 1 primary elections hadn’t reached that threshold.
Voting got off to a rocky start in March with confusion over newly implemented voter laws amid low turnout. Heading into Tuesday’s runoffs, the early vote tally is predictably lower, with fewer runoff contests across the state.
As of Friday, total turnout in the state was 749,429 — with 461,681 Republicans who cast votes compared to 287,748 Democrats.
Overall, compared to the March 1 primary, early voting turnout was down by more than half, going from 9.6% of the state’s registered voters casting ballots to 4.32%. However, compared to a similar point in 2018’s runoffs, the cumulative turnout from both parties was actually up if still anemic — from 3.22% voter turnout to 4.32%.
Unlike the first round of voting, early mail ballot administration issues do not appear to have plagued the runoff process.
A runoff for attorney general could spell the end (at least for now) of the Bush dynasty in Texas. Land Commissioner George P. Bush is former President George H.W. Bush’s grandson, the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and the nephew of former President George W. Bush. He’s the only member of his famous family still in public office and it remains to be seen if the legacy serves him well at the ballot box, as the GOP has increasingly moved away from Bush-branded conservatism.
The younger Bush is in a hard-fought battle with one of the nation’s most high-profile attorney generals — incumbent Ken Paxton — who has been a leader of failed legal efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Paxton, who has Donald Trump’s backing, is expected to fend off the primary challenge despite Bush’s public break with his family in an attempt to curry favor with the former president, who frequently targeted Jeb Bush on the 2016 campaign trail.
Emil Lippe/AP, FILEVoters walk into the Oak Cliff Government Center to participate in the primary election in Dallas, Texas, March 1, 2022.
However, Paxton goes into the runoff engulfed in scandals that include indictment for securities fraud, FBI investigations into malfeasance and marital infidelity, among others. He denies all allegations.
In the March 1 primary, Paxton received more than 676,000 votes and Bush received more than 354,000 votes.
Compounded by the leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion that indicated the justices would overturn Roe v. Wade, progressive Democrats have been emboldened to try and push their candidate — Jessica Cisneros — over the finish line in Texas’ 28th district and oust the last anti-abortion Democrat in the House, Rep. Henry Cuellar.
The initial matchup between Cuellar and Cisneros was already taking center stage given news of an FBI raid on Cuellar’s home and campaign office (Cuellar has said he did nothing wrong), in addition to it being a repeat face-off from 2020 when Cisneros lost to Cuellar by just 4%.
Cisneros, a 28-year-old immigration attorney, is backed by nationally prominent progressives including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who have both traveled to Texas throughout the campaign cycle to stump for her. She also has the support of Massachusetts’ Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Ayanna Pressley.
Meanwhile, the nine-term Cuellar is backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn. Amid the fallout of the leaked decision regarding Roe v. Wade, Cisneros called on Democratic House leadership to revoke their support for Cuellar — a request that ultimately fell on deaf ears given their stance on backing incumbents.
In the March 1 primary, Cuellar received 1,005 more votes than Cisneros, or 48.7% of the vote to her 46.6%.
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