Here’s a quick recap of what happened over the last week:

Early Voting Underway

Texas has an all-time high of 17.9 million registered voters, according to figures released by the Secretary of State prior to the beginning of early voting.  The 17.9 million registered voters is higher than the 17.2 million registered prior to the 2022 primary elections.  The increase is due to the state’s population growth, as Texas added nearly 500,000 people over the last 12 months, and now has a population of 30.5 million people.

Early voting for the March 5th primary election began on Tuesday.  So far, turnout has been high, exceeding the 2020 (last presidential election year) first day voting by about 11,000 votes.  83,875 turned out on the first day of early voting in 2020 compared to 94,883 on Tuesday.  These figures are according to the Secretary of State’s office.

What is interesting – at least early on —  is that in counties with hotly contested Republican House primary races, turnout seems to be up slightly.  According to Derek Ryan – an analyst specializing in campaigns and election turnout – the higher turnout is from those voters who have not voted in all of the previous four Republican primaries.  This is possibly due to the dynamics surrounding the intraparty fighting.  If this data holds – and the more traditional Republican voter who has voted in the last several primaries is staying home this year – then that could be an indicator of strong momentum for the challengers to the more moderate and established Republican House members.  But it’s early, and there are still seven days left of early voting – and the actual election day – so things could change as we get closer to March 5th.

Early voting hours are 7AM to 7PM every day from now through Friday, March 1st with the exception of this Sunday when voting hours are noon to 7PM.  For all issues related to voting, go to  where you find links to polling places, acceptable types of voter ID, mail-in voting, ballot tracking, and more.

Highlights of this year’s primary ballot include the Presidential primaries at the national level, as well as the hotly contested Democratic primary which will determine who will challenge incumbent US Senator Ted Cruz in the November general election.  That race is likely to come down to a runoff between Dallas Congressman Colin Allred and San Antonio state Senator Roland Gutierrez.

At the state level, 15 of the 31 members of the Texas Senate stand for reelection this year.  However, there are only 3 races of consequence.  On the Democratic side,  Senator Nathan Johnson of Dallas is facing Rep. Victoria Criado in a Dallas area seat and in Houston, several candidates are facing off to succeed longtime Senator John Whitmire, who was elected mayor of Houston in November.  On the Republican side, several candidates are vying to succeed Senator Drew Springer – who is not seeking reelection – in a north Texas based Senate seat.

All 150 members of the state House must stand for reelection every two years.  Many of the Republican House incumbents are being challenged from the far-right wing of the party.  Due to contentious votes regarding private school vouchers and the impeachment of Attorney General Ken Paxton, over 30 Republican incumbent House members have drawn primary opponents.  Gov. Abbott and AG Ken Paxton have endorsed the opponents of the incumbents in many races.  The Texas House Speaker has also drawn two opponents, one of which has been endorsed by former President Trump.  The outcome of these primary races will determine the direction of the House for the 2025 session, with the control moving either to the more conservative wing of the party or staying in the hands of the more traditional and moderate Republicans.

Trump Endorsements in Texas House Races

On Tuesday, former President Trump endorsed the opponents of four incumbent Republican Texas House members who all voted against the private school voucher program and voted to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton.  In the endorsements – announced on Truth Social – Trump said he supports candidates who will “champion school choice, secure elections, and lower taxes.”

The candidates are opposing Reps. John Kuempel of Seguin, the current chair of the House Higher Education committee; Stan Lambert of Abilene; Glenn Rogers of Graford; and DeWayne Burns of Cleburne.  These endorsements are in addition to the endorsements of these same candidates by Gov. Abbott and AG Ken Paxton and will undoubtedly provide a boost to the challengers.  These endorsements by Trump are also in addition to his endorsement of the challenger to incumbent Republican House Speaker Dade Phelan.

Poll Numbers as Election Date Nears

As early voting begins, the University of Texas Politics Project released a poll this week showing voter preference on issues as well as approval ratings for many of our elected officials.

It is important to note that the poll surveyed only registered voters, not likely primary voters, so the results may not be completely reflective of the voters that will actually be going to the polls.

With that said, the issue regarding the crisis at the border remains at the top of voters’ minds.  A majority of the voters in the state support the measures that the state has taken to try and curb illegal immigration into the state.  59% support making it harder for migrants to seek asylum, while 71% consider the large number of migrants attempting to cross the border either a crisis or very serious problem.  57% of the respondents approve of the border security measures imposed by the state including the buoy barriers placed in the Rio Grande River and the installation of razor wire near the banks of the river.

Regarding the US Senate race, Congressman Colin Allred has widened his lead over state Sen. Roland Gutierrez.  Among the declared Democrats taking the poll, 52% said they support Allred compared to 14% for Gutierrez.  If Allred exceeds 50%, he can avoid a runoff.  Regardless of a runoff or not, incumbent Senator Ted Cruz holds a comfortable lead over both Democratic challengers.  Cruz leads Allred 46% to 32% and leads Gutierrez 45% to 31%, according to poll numbers.

The poll also asked about basic approval numbers for several statewide officials.  Gov. Abbott led the pack with a 53% approval rating, his highest since April of 2020 and up 5 points from his 48% approval rating in December of last year.  Credit Abbott’s aggressive stance on immigration enforcement issues and his continued feud with President Biden with his increasing numbers.  Other approval ratings by voters in the poll – Biden – 42%; Senator Ted Cruz – 48%; Lt. Governor Dan Patrick – 42%; Attorney General Ken Paxton – 41%; and US Senator John Cornyn – 34%.

The poll surveyed 1,200 registered Texas voters from February 2nd-12th and has a margin of error of 2.83 points.  Full results of the poll can be found here:

Border News

Last week, Gov. Abbott announced that the state is building an 80-acre military style base camp in Eagle Pass for the National Guard soldiers stationed at the border in conjunction with Operation Lone Star – the state funded and controlled effort to curb illegal migration.  More details have been released regarding the new facility.  It will house between 1,800 and 2,300 soldiers, each with their own individual room.  No cost figures have been given, and a construction timeline has not been released. However, the National Guard did announce that by mid-April, there will be space available to house 300 soldiers, with an additional 300 beds coming online every 30 days.  To date, the legislature has appropriated over $10 billion to Operation Lone Star.

Political Notes

As early voting is in full swing, Gov. Abbott is stepping up his attacks and involvement to help the challengers to three incumbent Republican members.  The Abbott campaign has made a $300,000 TV buy in support of Marc LaHood, who is challenging Rep. Steve Allison in the Republican primary in a central San Antonio district.  Abbott has also contributed $200,000 to a PAC that supports Alan Schoolcraft of Cibolo in his challenge to Rep. John Kuempel of Seguin.  And, Abbott announced plans to hold a rally in Abilene next week in support of Liz Case, who is challenge Rep. Stan Lambert.  Reps. Allison, Kuempel, and Lambert are all voucher opponents, and Abbott has already endorsed their opponents.

Every week we are reporting about candidates and officeholders falsely reporting endorsements.  Most have been incumbent members touting past support from Gov. Abbott or other statewide officials.  This week however, a political newcomer in the Panhandle has come under fire for listing several local and party officials on her endorsement page on her website that did not endorse her.  Caroline Fairley is a Republican running in House District 87, left open by the retirement of Rep. Four Price of Amarillo. Fairley does have a very impressive list of endorsements, including Gov. Abbott, area Congressman Ronny Jackson, and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.  Her father is a longtime donor to Republican officials statewide and in the Amarillo area.  Fairley erred by listing several local officials as having endorsed her, including the Potter County Republican Chair who publicly stated as a county chair, he does not pick sides and endorse candidates.  Fairley is facing three opponents in the Republican primary, chief among them is local realtor and party activist Cindi Bulla who can tout the endorsement of the powerful Texas Association of Realtors.  Fairley is still the odds-on favorite to win the nomination and has more than twice as much cash on hand as Bulla.

Already trailing badly in the polls, state Senator Roland Gutierrez was faced with another challenge in his run for the Democratic nomination for the US Senate when it was revealed that the IRS has placed a series of tax liens against his law firm totaling nearly $65,000.  In response to the revelation, Gutierrez says this is part of an ongoing dispute with the IRS over taxes the agency claims he owes.  Furthermore, Gutierrez says he is still owed tax credits stemming from the pandemic that would “wash out” the taxes owed.  This is a harmful development for Gutierrez as early voting gets underway.  Most polls show him trailing front runner Colin Allred by double digits heading into election day.

The University of Houston/Hobby School of Public Affairs released a poll this week that focused on Houston area Congressional and legislative races.  Of interest, incumbent Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee has a very narrow lead over challenger Amanda Edwards, a former member of Houston City Council.  Jackson Lee is coming off a landslide defeat last November in the election for mayor of Houston.  In her 30 years representing the inner-city Houston district, she has never had a serious challenge for reelection.  The poll shows her with a slim 5-point lead, 43% to 38% over Edwards.

In another closely watched race, several candidates are vying to replace former state Senator John Whitmire – elected mayor of Houston in November – in a similar urban state Senate district in the Houston area.  State Rep. Jarvis Johnson and emergency room nurse Molly Cook are tied in the poll at 18% each in the field of six candidates.  Attorney Todd Litton is running third with 14%.  Nearly one-third of the voters in the district remain undecided.

What’s Next??

Early voting started on Tuesday and lasts until Friday, March 1st .  The primary election is Tuesday, March 5th.