Democratic Statewide Primaries Show the Party is Indecisive–Except For When It Comes to Beto

In most statewide races, Texas Democrats split their votes in crowded fields and most races will go into runoffs. But O'Rourke will be the Democratic gubernatorial candidate with 91 percent of the vote.

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On Tuesday, Beto O’Rourke swept the vote as the Democratic gubernatorial primary winner, while other statewide Democratic hopefuls will be going into runoffs. 

With about 90 percent of the vote, O’Rourke beat out four other candidates in the race. He will be facing off against Governor Gregg Abott, who won the Republican nomination with almost 70 percent of the vote. 

“We gotta to get past the incompetence, the corruption, and the cruelty of Greg Abott,” O’Rourke told suppporters at his watch party in Dallas. “I will be a governor for each and every single one of you. We will do this together to do the big things we are truly capable of once we get past the smallness and the cruelty and the decisiveness of this moment.”

O’Rourke went down a laundry list of all the greatest controversies in Abbott’s career, including the Texas blackout in February 2021, the state ban on abortions after six weeks, and the problem-plagued foster care system in Texas. He also hearkened back to his Senate run in 2018 against Ted Cruz when he lost by 2.6 percentage points. 

One other statewide Dem to win decisively was Susan Hays for agriculture commissioner with around 80 percent of the vote. She is a lawyer who focused on representing hemp producers and legalizing weed production. She ran on a platform to root out corruption from the office, accusing Republican incumbent Sid Miller of raising taxes and using appointments to curry political favors.

“I will always talk straight with you, Texas,” Hays said on Twitter. “Sid Miller has got to go. I’ll stand up to him for all Texans, all kids and our planet.”  

Miller, who avoided a runoff Tuesday, has the endorsement of former president Donald Trump, but might find his November victory harder to cinch this time. His longtime political consultant, Todd Smith, was charged and arrested with theft and bribery in May. Miller also has a penchant for brazen speeches and making offensive comments.

The attorney general race will go into a run off. Frontrunner Rochelle Mercedes Garza leads with a little more than 40 percent of the vote, trailed by Joe Jaworski and Lee Merritt. All are running on progressive platforms, so they might be hard-pressed to find a dividing line when they go head-to-head. Meanwhile, Republican incumbent Ken Paxton was forced into a runoff against current Land Commissioner George P. Bush.

The Democratic lieutenant governor race split along similar lines. Mike Collier, a subdued long-time accountant, leads with about 40 percent, setting up a runoff. He hopes to go up against Republican incumbent Dan Patrick, who has been known to have a tight grip on politics inside the Capitol. 

Luke Warford was uncontested to be the Democratic candidate for railroad commissioner. The February 2021 blackout was an easy cudgel to use against GOP incumbent Wayne Christian. Warford criticized Christian’s deep political ties to the oil and gas industry and vowed to help transition Texas’ oil and gas industry to more sustainable energy sources, while preserving jobs.  Christian was forced into a runoff Tuesday.

“Seven hundred Texans died unnecessarily during Winter Storm Uri in a grid failure that could have been prevented if the Texas Railroad Commission had done their jobs,” Warford said on his website. “When the power was out, instead of working tirelessly to get the grid back online, the commissioners were focused on making billions for their friends and passing those costs on to consumers.” 

The Democratic land commissioner race also looks headed to a runoff between psychologist-turned-politician and proud Latina Sandra Grace Martinez with a little more than 30 percent of the vote and Jay Kleberg, a member of a powerful Texas ranching family who was also the associate director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation.

The race for Texas comptroller, the office which collects and oversees the accounts for all tax revenue, is led by Jannet Dudding with around 45 percent and Angel Luis Vega. They are looking to face off with Glenn Hegar, the incumbent and winner of the Republican primary for this office. 

Erin Nowell, Amanda Reichek, and Julia Maldonado ran uncontested for the Texas Supreme Court justice for place 3, 5 and, 9 respectively. Dana Huffman and Robert Johnson also were uncontested in the race for the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to reflect results midday Wednesday.