Takeaways from the 2022 midterm primary election in Texas

Abbott, O’Rourke victorious; Attorney General candidates, Bexar Co. Judge Dems, CD-28 to runoff

Patrick Svitek, Texas Tribune political reporter, joined Wednesday's Q&A to break down the primary election results and what to expect in the upcoming elections.

Local Races that Matter

SAN ANTONIO – After months of campaigning, the midterm elections are beginning to take shape as many candidates clinched nominations during Tuesday’s primary.

Though the election was complicated by a large number of rejected mail-in ballots and newly enacted voting restrictions, thousands of Texans turned out to vote on Tuesday.

In Bexar County, Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen said she was “disappointed” by the turnout, with only roughly 40,000 votes cast in San Antonio on Election Day and about 100,000 during early voting.

Though the presidential race isn’t on this year’s ballots, several other important races are, including the governor, attorney general, congressional seats and Bexar County Judge.

Here’s what you need to know.

Note: In races with more than two candidates, where one fails to win more than 50% of the vote, the top two contenders will advance to a runoff on May 24. Winners will advance to the Nov. 8 general election.

Governor

There were no surprises in the gubernatorial primary races at the top of the ticket.

Gov. Greg Abbott easily cruised to victory in the Republican primary on Tuesday night, winning nearly 70% of the vote. Abbott was expected to clinch the nomination despite facing multiple opponents in the race, including former State Sen. Don Huffines and former Congressman Allen West.

On the Democratic ticket, former Congressman Beto O’Rourke clinched the nomination with 92% of the vote.

Though they both faced primary opponents, the nominees have already been campaigning against each other for months. At this point, Abbott is the favorite to win in November.

Attorney General

Despite winning an early endorsement from former President Donald Trump, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was forced into a runoff.

Paxton did lead the way against his opponents, however, with 42% of the vote, with nearly 88% of precincts reporting as of this writing.

In a bitter battle for the second spot, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush outlasted former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman with about five percentage points separating the two. The numbers in the embed are the most up-to-date.

Candidate

Votes

%

Ken Paxton*(R)
816,33543%
George P. Bush(R)
435,22023%
Eva Guzman(R)
333,56817%
Louie Gohmert(R)
325,10017%
*Incumbent
100% of Precincts Reporting

(9,633 / 9,633)

The primary race was one of the most bitter contests in the state, with the candidates targeting Paxton, who is under criminal indictment and the subject of an FBI investigation.

The Democratic nomination will also be decided in a runoff. Rochelle Mercedes Garza won 41% of the vote and will face former Galveston mayor Joe Jaworski, who won 22% of the vote. The GOP runoff winner will likely be the favorite in November.

Candidate

Votes

%

Rochelle Mercedes Garza(D)
432,21243%
Joe Jaworski(D)
196,46320%
Lee Merritt(D)
195,04519%
Mike Fields(D)
123,21212%
S. "TBone" Raynor(D)
55,3876%
100% of Precincts Reporting

(9,624 / 9,624)

Congressional District 28

With 100% of precincts reporting, the tight Democratic primary for Congressional District 28 is headed to a runoff.

Immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros and Congressman Henry Cuellar went back and forth, trading the lead on Tuesday. Ultimately, neither candidate cleared the 50% threshold to clinch the nomination.

See the most up-to-date results.

Candidate

Votes

%

Henry Cuellar*(D)
23,55248%
Jessica Cisneros(D)
22,78547%
Tannya Judith Benavides(D)
2,2895%
*Incumbent
100% of Precincts Reporting

(285 / 285)

Cuellar successfully held off Cisneros two years ago, but the momentum shifted a few months ago when FBI investigators raided the congressman’s home in Laredo. Cuellar maintains his innocence and no charges have been filed.

Tannya Judith Benavides came in third with roughly 4% of the vote. Her voters could make the difference if the Democratic primary goes to a runoff.

Meanwhile, two Republican nominees are headed to a runoff. Cassy Garcia, who won 31% of the vote, will face Sandra Whitten for the nomination.

Candidate

Votes

%

Cassy Garcia(R)
5,86723%
Sandra Whitten(R)
4,50418%
Steven Fowler(R)
3,36213%
Willie Vasquez Ng(R)
3,32413%
Ed Cabrera(R)
3,32313%
Eric Hohman(R)
2,97112%
Rolando Rodriguez(R)
1,6166%
100% of Precincts Reporting

(285 / 285)

Bexar County Judge

With stiff competition among the Democratic candidates for Bexar County Judge — the top elected position in the county will be decided in a runoff.

Former District Court Judge Peter Sakai will head into the runoff with momentum, winning 43% of the vote. He will face State Rep. Ina Minjarez, who won 30% of the vote.

Despite winning Mayor Ron Nirenberg’s endorsement and impressive fundraising numbers, former mayoral chief of staff Ivalis Meza Gonzalez came in third with 19% of the vote.

Candidate

Votes

%

Peter Sakai(D)
36,46541%
Ina Minjarez(D)
27,65731%
Ivalis Meza Gonzalez(D)
16,99119%
Gerardo (Gerard) Ponce(D)
8,75610%
100% of Precincts Reporting

(279 / 279)

Sakai said he’s already focused on winning over those who didn’t vote for him.

“We know that we need to be good to go for those opponents that don’t make the runoff,” Sakai said. “We’re going to ask their voters to come over and join Team Sakai and we’ll power on.”

Minjarez had a similar mindset on Tuesday night.

“I think we’re going to continue talking about what our priorities are going to be and what the vision is going to be for the county,” she said. “I think it’s going to be up to the voters to decide who they want to lead them in their county.”

The Republican race was quickly decided Tuesday night, with former Bexar County Commissioner Trish DeBerry securing the nomination with more than 65% of the vote.

Whoever wins the general election in November will succeed Nelson Wolff, who has been Bexar County Judge since 2001.

Candidate

Votes

%

Trish DeBerry(R)
49,34263%
Nathan Buchanan(R)
29,11637%
100% of Precincts Reporting

(279 / 279)

Bexar County District Attorney

It may sound like a rematch from 2018, but it isn’t.

Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales, who ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination, will face Marc LaHood, who beat out former prosecutor Meredith Chacon for the Republican nomination.

Four years ago, Gonzales beat Nico LaHood — Marc’s brother — after a heavily contentious Democratic primary. In that race, Gonzales was the challenger, while Nico LaHood was the incumbent.

This year, Gonzales is the incumbent and Marc LaHood is the challenger.

Congressional District 35

Progressive Austin City Council Member Greg Casar cruised to victory in the Democratic primary for Congressional District 35.

Casar faced opposition from State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, but Rodriguez only won 17% of the vote, while former San Antonio City Council member Rebecca Viagran came in third with 16% of the vote, as of this writing.

Casar also won among Bexar County voters within the district, pulling in 45%.

Candidate

Votes

%

Dan McQueen(R)
2,86821%
Michael Rodriguez(R)
2,03015%
Bill Condict(R)
1,51511%
Marilyn Jackson(R)
1,46711%
Dan Sawatzki(R)
1,40710%
Jennifer Sundt(R)
1,29110%
Sam Montoya(R)
1,2249%
Alejandro Ledezma(R)
8306%
Jenai Aragona(R)
5874%
Asa George Kent Palagi(R)
3242%
100% of Precincts Reporting

(254 / 254)

Ten candidates sought the Republican nomination in the district. Former Corpus Christi Mayor Dan McQueen led the way with 21% of the vote, with Michael Rodriguez trailing behind with 14% of the vote, resulting in a runoff between the two.

The district, which spans from Austin to San Antonio, is reliably Democratic. The seat opened up after Congressman Lloyd Doggett, who previously represented CD-35, opted to run for Congressional District 37 after redistricting took shape.

Everything else

  • In statewide races, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick clinched the Republican nomination, while Democrats are going to a runoff. Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian appears to be in a runoff with Sarah Stogner but the race is too close to call while Luke Warford took the Democratic nomination. Agricultural Commissioner Sid Miller won the Republican nomination, while Susan Hays won the Democratic nomination.
  • Congress: GOP Candidate Monica De La Cruz was able to avoid a runoff in Congressional District 15, while Democrats are headed to a runoff. Congressman Tony Gonzales, who clinched the Republican nomination for Congressional District 23, will face Democrat John Lira in November. Chip Roy won the nomination in CD-21.
  • Texas Legislature: Josey Garcia won the Democratic nomination for Texas House District 124, while Johnny Arredondo ran unopposed in the Republican primary. Republicans will see a runoff in Texas House District 122, while Democrat Angi Aramburu won the Democratic nomination. State Rep. Steve Allison clinched the Republican nomination in Texas House District 121, while Becca Moyer DeFelice came out as the Democratic nominee. State Rep. Ryan Guillen, who switched parties from Democrat to Republican last year, won the GOP nomination with nearly 60% of the vote. Republican State Sen. Pete Flores appears to be headed to a runoff with Raul Reyes in Texas Senate District 24.
  • In District Court 285, Nadine Nieto won the Democratic nomination against Lisa Uresti-Dasher.
  • Find local Bexar County races, including judicial seats, here. Find elections from surrounding counties here.

Read more on KSAT 12′s Vote 2022 page.


About the Authors:

Fares Sabawi has been a journalist in San Antonio for four years. He has covered several topics, but specializes in crime, courts, open records and data visualization.

Kolten Parker is digital executive producer at KSAT. Previously, he worked at the San Antonio Express-News and the Texas Observer.