With U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert eyeing a bid to be the next attorney general of Texas, East Texas’ political landscape could soon be upended in 2022.
An odds-on contender to replace Gohmert in Congress would be the popular state senator from Mineola, Bryan Hughes. Seen across the GOP spectrum as a clear-eyed, practically-focused conservative, Hughes’ stock has skyrocketed over the last eight months by successfully handling a series of high-stakes legislative priorities—notably, the new Heartbeat Act.
There is enough overlap between the senatorial district Hughes represents and the congressional district Gohmert would be leaving to significantly reduce the cost of the race in Hughes’ favor.
Such a run would put the Senate seat into primary play. And this is a significant point: The congressional seat, the senatorial district, and the surrounding state House districts are all reliably safe Republican seats. The Republican nominee will win.
An open Senate seat would draw a lot of interest, particularly for House members whose districts rest within it. That would include State Reps. Jay Dean, Gary VanDeaver, Cole Hefner, and Matt Schaefer. VanDeaver is facing a challenge to hold his House seat, while Hefner is dealing with the fallout from a sex scandal. The chattering class in Austin is putting odds on Schaefer as the most likely House member to be credibly considered a contender.
Schaefer has been the bellicose voice of what remains of the “Freedom Caucus” in the Texas House and is equally feared and respected for his sharp wit, booming voice, and conservative bona fides. His biggest weakness as a senatorial candidate would be what has plagued him as a House member: fundraising. He’s done enough to hold his seat, but he would have to exceed expectations to advance.
None of these moves are guaranteed; as Gohmert, Hughes, and Schaefer would be the first to admit, they aren’t entitled to the seats, and a disruptive candidate could unravel any of their particular bids. Each is leaving a “safe” seat for the uncertainty of seeking a new post. That is especially true for Gohmert, as he becomes the latest entry in what is now a five-person race featuring a relatively popular incumbent (Ken Paxton) who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
Neither Hughes nor Schaefer have yet to make a move from their current posts … though Schaefer has let it be known he’s thinking about it.
Jasilyn & I are prayerfully considering our next steps as a family in light of Con. Gohmert’s announcement he may leave Congress and run for Tx AG. We welcome the prayers of family & friends to ask God to place people in office who would honor Him, & seek His wisdom. 1/2 #txlege
— Matt Schaefer (@RepMattSchaefer) November 9, 2021
Gohmert made his decision about running for A.G. contingent on raising $1 million in 10 days.