In analyzing Tuesday night’s runoff elections in Texas, two big observations can be made: It was a good night for incumbents, but a less than stellar showing for the power of Gov. Greg Abbott’s endorsements.
After being re-elected by 67 percent of voters in the March primary election, Abbott began to throw his support behind candidates who found themselves in runoff elections. In these races, Abbott’s success was mixed.
Incumbents Largely Successful
Incumbents who are thrust into runoff races after failing to garner more than 50 percent of the vote in the March primary have historically been doomed; in the past couple of decades, there are few examples of incumbents successfully navigating a runoff election.
This time, however, three of the four incumbent state lawmakers prevailed in their runoff, bucking the trend. These included State Reps. Kyle Kacal (R–Bryan), Glenn Rogers (R–Mineral Wells), and Stephanie Klick (R–Ft Worth). All three were endorsed by Gov. Greg Abbott.
Notably, the trend continued on a statewide level, with both Attorney General Ken Paxton and Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian beating their runoff opponents, though both did so without the endorsement of Abbott.
The unsuccessful incumbent who lost was State Rep. Phil Stephenson (R–Wharton). Abbott had endorsed his opponent, Stan Kitzman, after Stephenson sent campaign mail falsely touting Abbott’s support.
Mixed Results in Open Races
While the amount of impact Abbott’s endorsements may have had in incumbent races is debatable, mixed results from open-seat races with no incumbent show that his endorsement is far from a silver bullet.
In four open races, Abbott endorsees were victorious, including Jamee Jolly, Ben Bumgarner, and Frederick Frazier in North Texas, as well Caroline Harris in Central Texas.
In four other open races, however, his endorsees were defeated:
- In House District 73, Carrie Isaac defeated Barron Casteel.
- In House District 19, Ellen Troxclair defeated Justin Berry.
- In House District 23, Terri Leo-Wilson defeated Patrick Gurski.
- In House District 93, Nate Schatzline defeated Laura Hill.
Cruz vs. Abbott
In the weeks leading up the runoffs, a trend began to emerge in which Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Greg Abbott would endorse different candidates. Cruz’s endorsements were largely made off of a candidate’s commitment to supporting school choice.
Like Abbott’s record in open races, this showdown was mixed, with Abbott’s candidate prevailing in four of the seven head-to-head races:
- In House District 12, Abbott’s candidate Kyle Kacal won.
- In House District 52, Abbott’s candidate Caroline Harris won.
- In House District 60, Abbott’s candidate Glenn Rogers won.
- In House District 70, Abbott’s candidate Jamee Jolly won.
Cruz’s candidates, meanwhile, won three of the matchups:
- In House District 19, Cruz’s candidate Ellen Troxclair won.
- In House District 23, Cruz’s candidate Terri Leo-Wilson won.
- In House District 73, Cruz’s candidate Carrie Isaac won.