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2024 primaries take shape following Dec. 11 filing deadline

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

Texas Legislature Elections TEA | Commissioner | SBOE Privatization | Vouchers

Date Posted: 12/13/2023 | Author: Tricia Cave

The 2024 primary elections are officially in full swing! The candidate filing deadline passed Monday evening, and we now know what the battlefield will look like for the 2024 primary season. As the election machine begins to move into full gear, public educators have many interesting races on both sides to engage in this March, including many open seats, especially in the Texas House.

Sixteen 16 members of the House are not returning next session, including the authors of the anti-private school voucher/pro-public education Herrero and Raney amendments. Those members are:

Two members of the Senate are not returning next session:

One member of the State Board of Education is not returning next session.:

This primary season is shaping up to be a Republican civil war, with both Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) targeting members of their own party due to critical votes on vouchers and the Paxton impeachment, respectively. Paxton has been recruiting primary challengers in districts where the incumbent voted to impeach him and has endorsed almost two dozen challengers so far, including one in House District (HD) 21, where current Speaker of the House Dade Phelan (R–Beaumont) is fighting to keep his seat against two Republican challengers. There are 12 House members who voted for impeachment who are running unopposed. Abbott, meanwhile, has his sights set on the 16 returning Republicans who voted for the Raney amendment, and all of them have at least one primary challenger. It will be interesting to see how much influence Paxton and Abbott have on primary voters; they are not aligned in their targets, and though the impeachment polls as an issue important to Republican primary voters, school vouchers do not.

Key races to watch on the Republican side include HD 60, where Dr. Glenn Rogers (R–Graford) is in a rematch against 2022 challenger Mike Olcott; HD 18, where Rep. Ernest Bailes (R–Shepherd) faces two primary opponents in school board member Janis Holt and pastor Stephen Missick; HD 33, where Rep. Justin Holland is facing two challengers, including Katrina Pierson, a former Trump campaign spokeswoman; HD 62, where Rep. Reggie Smith (R–Sherman) is facing a rematch against Shelley Luther, a former salon owner who became famous in a COVID-19 business restriction controversy; and HD 55, where Rep. Hugh Shine (R–Temple) is facing Abbott-backed school choice activist Hillary Hickland, among others. Rep. Andrew Murr (R–Junction), who both led the impeachment effort against Paxton and supported the Raney amendment, is also retiring. On the Senate side, Republicans are facing only one competitive primary in the race to replace retiring Sen. Drew Springer (R–Muenster).

On the Democratic side, the Senate is proving to be an interesting area to watch. Sen. John Whitmire (D–Houston), the longest-serving member of the Senate, was recently elected mayor of Houston, leaving his seat open. Six Democrats and one Republican are vying for this seat, including Rep. Jarvis Johnson (D–Houston). There is also a primary showdown in SD 16, where Sen. Nathan Johnson (D–Dallas) is being challenged by Rep. Victoria Neave Criado (D–Dallas), who says she is running because Johnson has “not fought hard enough against the Republican agenda.” There was also a surprise in the State Board of Education, where freshman member Dr. Melissa Ortega (D–El Paso) has decided not to run at the last minute. Two Democrats, Jessica Cerda and Gustavo Reveles, were able to file before the deadline to run for the seat. In the House, five of the seven open seats held by Democrats appear headed for runoffs, with multiple candidates running in HD 34, HD 77, HD 80, HD 115, and HD 139. HD 107, the seat currently held by Neave Criado, has only one person running—financial expert and media personality Linda Garcia, who will be the presumptive winner of the seat. In HD 109, currently held by Rep. Carl Sherman (D–DeSoto), the last-minute filing of Dallas lawyer Victoria Walton kept current SBOE member Aicha Davis (D–Dallas) from running unopposed.

With primaries underway, and Abbott and school voucher advocates targeting our public education allies at the ballot box, it is critical that you stay informed and ensure you are aware of upcoming deadlines for voter registration and requesting a mail-in ballot, among other important dates. Stay tuned to Teach the Vote for updates, including important candidate information; check your voter registration status; follow your ATPE Governmental Relations team on Twitter/X (@atpe_montye, @markwigginstx, and @tdcave), and get involved in your local races.

The Texas primaries will be held  March 5, with early voting beginning Feb. 20.


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