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What’s at stake in Texas runoff elections on Tuesday

Cuellar will get a challenger while Gonzales faces Second Amendment ‘absolutist’

In Texas runoff elections on Tuesday, Rep. Henry Cuellar, left, will learn who his challenger is, while Rep. Tony Gonzales, right, is battling for another nomination against a Second Amendment social media influencer.
In Texas runoff elections on Tuesday, Rep. Henry Cuellar, left, will learn who his challenger is, while Rep. Tony Gonzales, right, is battling for another nomination against a Second Amendment social media influencer. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Republican voters in Texas runoff elections Tuesday will decide if an incumbent who supported gun control can run for another term, and will pick the GOP challenger to a recently indicted Democrat and a nominee for a solidly red seat now held by a retiring veteran.

Those races and others were sent to runoffs in the March 5 primary after no one got more than 50 percent of the vote. Tuesday’s elections also include several races to pick Republican candidates in districts dominated by Democrats, as well as a Democratic runoff in a heavily Republican district. 

Here is a look at the races on tap.

12th District 

Revenge by the state attorney general on state lawmakers who voted to impeach him overlays the contest for the nomination to succeed Rep. Kay Granger, a former chair of the House Appropriations Committee who announced plans to retire in November. 

State Rep. Craig Goldman, chairman of the Republican caucus in the Texas House, has the backing of the business community, Granger and Gov. Greg Abbott. Rival John O’Shea, who told his business partners bought him out because they knew he’d be a “firebrand” and didn’t want undue attention on the company, has been endorsed by Ken Paxton, the state attorney general who Goldman voted to impeach last year. Paxton was acquitted at trial in the state Senate, and O’Shea said in a debate that the race should hinge on whether voters agree with Goldman’s decision to impeach him, the Texas Tribune reported

Goldman has the support of Defend American Jobs, a super PAC backed by the crypto-currency industry, which has spent about $725,000 on his behalf. 

Goldman had more than $700,000 in his campaign account as of May 8; O’Shea had $36,565.

The district, which Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates Solid Republican, is centered on Fort Worth and has been represented by Granger since 1997.

The winner of the runoff will face Democrat Trey Hunt.

23rd District

Rep. Tony Gonzales angered some of his fellow Republicans by supporting a bipartisan gun violence measure after a 2022 mass shooting at a school in Uvalde in the district. Four GOP challengers ran against him in the primary and one, Second Amendment “absolutist” and social media influencer Brandon Herrera, qualified for the runoff.

Herrera has the backing of several prominent House hard-liners, including Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Bob Good of Virginia. That prompted Gonzales to tell CNN that he serves with “some real scumbags” in Congress.

The race has drawn outside spending, including more than $1 million targeting Herrera from United Democracy Project, a super PAC aligned with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The money has paid for ads attacking Herrera for glorifying Nazis and mocking the Holocaust on his YouTube channel. Herrera also posted on X that he would “absolutely vote AGAINST the new proposed spending package for $95+ billion for foreign conflicts, while spending $0 on our southern border.”

Gonzales had $923,000 on hand on May 8 and Herrera had $147,000.

28th District

Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar would seem like a top GOP target after he was indicted on May 3 on bribery and money laundering charges.

But Republicans haven’t invested much money in the runoff to determine who will face Cuellar in November.

Lazaro Garza, a rancher, raised $295,000 and Jay Furman, a Navy veteran, raised $195,000, including $150,000 he loaned to his campaign. Cuellar, meanwhile, brought in nearly $2 million. 

Cuellar has represented the district, which reaches from the outskirts of San Antonio to the U.S.-Mexico border, since 2005. Inside Elections changed its rating on the race from Solid to Likely Democratic after the indictment.

Other races

Republicans in the 7th District will also pick either Kenneth Omoruyi or Caroline Kane to challenge Democratic Rep. Lizzie Fletcher. In the March 5 primary, Omoruyi got 42 percent and Kane got 25 percent in the four-candidate field.

In the 29th District, Republicans will pick either Christian V. Garcia or Alan Garza to challenge to Democratic Rep. Sylvia Garcia. Garcia led the four-candidate field on March 5 with 45 percent, followed by Garza with 29 percent.

In the 35th District, Republicans Michael Rodriguez and Steven Wright are vying to face Democratic Rep. Greg Casar. Rodridguez got 27 percent and Wright 25 percent in a five-candidate race in March.

The November races for those three seats are all rated Solid Democratic.

So is the open 32nd District seat that Senate nominee Colin Allred is giving up, where David Blewett and Darrell Day are vying to challenge Democratic nominee Julie Johnson. In the primary, Blewett got 44 percent and Day 38 percent in a four-candidate field.

Democrats in the 31st District will also pick a challenger to GOP Rep. John Carter in the runoff between Brian Walbridge and Stuart Whitlow. Whitlow almost won the primary outright, finishing with just under 49 percent in March, while Walbridge got 26 percent in a three-candidate race. The race for the seat in November is rated Solid Republican.

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