In last week’s Republican primary, State Rep. James White (R–Hillister) ran for Texas agriculture commissioner but lost to incumbent Commissioner Sid Miller.
White is only the latest in a slew of state representatives who have unsuccessfully attempted to move from the Texas House straight into a statewide office over the past few decades.
The last lawmaker to move straight from the Texas House to a statewide office was Rick Perry in 1990, when he won the race for agriculture commissioner. Perry would later go on to serve as lieutenant governor and then governor.
Many others have tried since then:
- Rep. Kenn George ran for land commissioner in 2002 and lost.
- Rep. Warren Chisum ran for railroad commissioner in 2012 and lost.
- Rep. Harvey Hilderbran ran for comptroller in 2014 and lost.
- Rep. Dan Branch ran for attorney general in 2014 and lost.
Interestingly, current Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar and current Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton both originally won their seats in 2014 against Hilderbran and Branch. While both served as members of the Texas House, they each had moved to the Texas Senate before their statewide runs.
In fact, statewide officials traversing the paths of office from the House to the Senate to statewide office occurs with some regularity.
A few people, such as previous Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian, and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, have moved from the state House to statewide office, but not successively. Each aforementioned official took at least one election cycle off before mounting their statewide campaigns.
Political consultant Luke Macias says the reason for the roadblock may lie in the disconnect between the Austin political establishment and the grassroots.
“Ultimately the house has traded temporary comfort with Austin insiders for long term support from Texas voters,” said Macias. “Speakers Joe Straus, Dennis Bonnen or Dade Phelan could have positioned their members better by passing more GOP priorities, but have opted to prioritize being the favored chamber for socialists and moderates.”
Meanwhile, current Democrat State Rep. Michelle Beckley (Carrollton) is in a runoff election for the party’s nomination for lieutenant governor, a longshot bid for Democrats in a largely Republican-voting state.