The Basics of Texas' Statewide Elections

Tell me about this Beto MFer guy ...


Beto O'Rourke confronted Gov. Greg Abbott during a press conference in Uvalde following the massacre, saying, "This is on you." (Screenshot via NBC)

Eh, you'll be seeing and hearing a lot from Beto O'Rourke, and Greg Abbott, as they swamp the airwaves and digital ad space after Labor Day. Yes, Beto has a chance; he has about the same chance of defeating the incumbent GOP governor as Donald Trump did of beating Hillary Clinton. He's been helped by external events – the Dobbs decision, the massacre of children in Uvalde, the toxicity of Trump. Abbott, running for a third term – which used to be really rare until Rick Perry did it – and still in the back of his mind running for president in 2024, has just enough distance from Trump to maintain some distance from O'Rourke in the polls.

Downballot, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and (indicted) Attorney General Ken Paxton are much more attached to the former president, like sucker fish. Luckily for them, their Dem opponents – Mike Collier and Rochelle Garza, respectively – are not nearly as high-profile as O'Rourke and are not going to keep up with the incumbents' prodigious fundraising. But Beto may lift all boats and make this a wave election, just like Trump did.

The last redistricting cycle for Congress and the Texas Legislature was designed to create maps that are as uncompetitive as possible, so if you live in a place with a lot of other Democrats, you will almost certainly be represented by a Democrat come January. (This hasn't been the case for the 10 years we've lived under the 2011 maps, which placed Austin's Eastside public housing residents in the congressional district of a Republican who lives 200 miles away. See ya later, Roger Williams!) East of I-35 (all the way south to the Alamo, including Texas State in San Marcos), former Austin Council Member Greg Casar is almost certain to become the next Squadster in Congress; west of the highway, 14-term incumbent Lloyd Doggett is now running in a district that lies almost entirely within the Austin city limits. Only a few unfortunate Austinites will continue to be represented by MAGAmuffin Chip Roy, R-"Austin."

In the Texas Legislature, most of y'all will be represented by Democrats – eight solidly blue districts (six in Travis County, one each in Williamson and Hays) in the House, and either Sarah Eckhardt of Austin or Judith Zaffirini of Laredo (whose majority-Latinx district has stretched into Travis County for decades) in the Senate. (In Williamson County, though, you're probably stuck with the odious sex pest Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown.) None of these folks has any real opposition in November.

The same is true at the county level; all five members of the Travis County Com­mis­sioners Court are Democrats, as are two in Hays County and one in Williamson. Most Travis County races are uncontested this November, and the few Republicans who are taking the chance have very dim prospects of success. This is important, because Travis County is the locus of the local criminal justice system, so if you do care about decarceration or de-policing, then you have an opportunity to make a difference by making your voice heard and your vote count.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Beto O'Rourke, Greg Abbott, Greg Casar, Dan Patrick, Ken Paxton, Rochelle Garza, Mike Collier, Chip Roy, Lloyd Doggett

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