In GOP Primaries, Abbott Crushes Opponents While Paxton Forced into Runoff

Abbott’s shameless lurch to the right pays off, while Paxton may finally pay a price for clownish corruption in a runoff battle.

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In the first real primary challenge of his roughly 30-year political career, Governor Greg Abbott rushed to the right on nearly every political matter possible in order to outflank a stable of conservative primary challengers. 

That strategy proved effective as Abbott crushed his opponents in the Republican gubernatorial primary Tuesday, hauling in nearly 70 percent of the vote. His closest contenders, the former state Senator Don Huffines and former Texas GOP party chair Allen West, each got a paltry 12 percent of the vote. 

Just 36 minutes after the polls closed, Huffines tweeted that he was conceding actual victory to Abbott while claiming victory for himself in the war of ideas. “For over a year our campaign has driven the narrative in Texas and forced Greg Abbott to deliver real conservative victories,” Huffines said, pointing to recent laws and policies enacted that include a near-total ban on abortion, a massive border security operation, the permitless carry  of handguns, “bans” on teaching about race in public classrooms, and an attack on transgender children’s ability to access gender-affirming healthcare. 

Abbott’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic early on prompted a rash of criticism from the far right and spurred challengers to launch bids against him. But by the time primary season ramped up, Abbott’s approval ratings among Republican voters were rock solid. 

Meanwhile, the comically corrupt Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton failed to avoid a runoff in the face of serious challenges from three well-known and well-funded challengers. Paxton won about 43 percent of the primary vote with Land Commissioner George P. Bush capturing second place and the right to a runoff. Former Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman and Congressman Louie Gohmert came in third and fourth places, though Gohmert did manage to win most of the counties in his East Texas congressional district. 

Paxton spent the final days of the election blasting Guzman as a “woke” liberal, perhaps indicating he saw her as his strongest opponent in a potential runoff. All of Paxton’s challengers relentlessly attacked him for his myriad legal challenges, warning Republican voters that the incumbent could be especially vulnerable in the general election and give Democrats their greatest chance at flipping a statewide seat in a generation—particularly if he ends up with another indictment or in jail as a result of his current FBI investigation. 

Farther down the ballot, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller—who faced his own hemp-related corruption scandal—handily beat his opponent, East Texas state Representative James White, with roughly 60 percent of the vote. 
Railroad Commission Chair Wayne Christian fell just a few points short of avoiding a runoff Tuesday night in his race against his challengers.

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