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Key races to watch in Texas on Super Tuesday

Primaries will set battleground matchups and pick nominees for open seats not likely to flip

Former Rep. Mayra Flores is vying for the Republican match to take back her seat in Texas.
Former Rep. Mayra Flores is vying for the Republican match to take back her seat in Texas. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Texas has the nation’s second-largest congressional delegation, though only a fraction of its primaries this year are competitive.

The Lone Star State does have a marquee Senate primary, as Democrats Colin Allred, a former NFL player and civil rights lawyer serving his third term in the House, and state Sen. Roland Gutierrez vie for the right to take on Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in November. 

The state also has a competitive House seat in the 23rd District, where Rep. Tony Gonzales angered his fellow Republicans by supporting gun safety legislation in 2022 and his stance on border security, and now faces challengers from his party’s right flank. 

November matchups in two battleground districts also will come into focus on March 5. In the 15th District, Republican Rep. Monica De La Cruz and Democrat Michelle Vallejo are looking to get past challengers in their parties to set up a repeat of their 2022 race, which is rated Lean Republican by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. In the 34th District, Democrat Vicente Gonzalez is unopposed in the primary, while his 2022 opponent, former Rep. Mayra Flores, must first get past fellow Republicans Laura Cisneros, Mauro Garza and Gregory Scott Kunkle.

Under Texas rules, if no candidate wins a majority of the vote in the primary, the top two vote-getters meet in a runoff election on May 28.

Below is a look at three primaries for open seats. In each case, the winner of the primary is favored to win in November since the three districts are dominated by one party.

12th District: Rep. Kay Granger’s surprise announcement that she was not seeking a 15th term set off a battle among Republicans in a race that Inside Elections rates as Solid Republican. The contest in the Fort Worth-based district reflects the ideological divisions within the GOP. State Rep. Craig Goldman, a small-businessman and chairman of the Republican caucus in the Texas House, has the support of the business community; his main rival in the race, investor John O’Shea, was endorsed by Ken Paxton, Texas attorney general and a staunch social conservative. Other Republicans on the primary ballot include business owner Shellie Gardner, engineer Clinton Dorris and retiree Anne Henley. Democrats seeking the nomination are Sebastian K. Gehrig and Trey J. Hunt.

26th District: The race to succeed retiring Republican Rep. Michael C. Burgess in a Dallas-area district pits two culture warriors against one another and has already drawn nearly $2.9 million in outside group spending. Brandon Gill is a former investment banker who founded a conservative news outlet and helped his father-in-law, right-wing commentator Dinesh D’Souza, make “2000 Mules,” a film that promotes election conspiracies. John Huffman is the mayor of Southlake, which gained national media attention for its Republican-led effort to crack down on diversity within the public schools. Gill won former President Donald Trump’s backing, while Huffman has the support of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Nine other Republicans are running, including former congressional staffer Luisa del Rosal and Scott Armey, a former judge and the son of former Rep. Dick Armey. Gill has put $250,000 of his own into the race, and raised the most from contributors, $209,000. Armey put in $130,000 of his own money and Huffman $80,000. America Leads Action, a super PAC that raised $4.5 million from two people this year, has spent $1.1 million against against Gill, and another group, Conservatives for American Excellence, spent $944,000. Groups supporting Gill, including Club for Growth Action, spent $758,000. 

32nd District: The seat that Allred is vacating to make his Senate run has drawn significant interest from Democrats. The two best-funded candidates are trauma surgeon Brian Williams and state Rep. Julie Johnson, who have raised $1.1 million and $1.2 million respectively. Both are supporters of stricter gun control laws and are opposed to abortion bans. Johnson was endorsed by former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, EMILY’s List and Equality PAC. Williams served as health policy adviser to Sen. Chris Murphy and has the support of the Connecticut Democrat. Among the eight other Democrats competing for the open seat are businessman Raja Chaudhry, tech entrepreneur Alex Cornwallis, former Dallas city councilman and relocation director Kevin Felder and attorney Callie Butcher, who is seeking to become the first openly transgender member of Congress. The GOP candidates are flooring distributor David Blewett, recruiter Darrell Day, tech consultant Juan Feria and former professional cricket player Gulrez “Gus” Khan.

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