GOV (Likely R): Seeking to recapture the mojo of 2018 without any of the side effects from his 2020 presidential campaign, former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) announced he would challenge Gov. Greg Abbott (R).

O’Rourke came within 3 points of ousting U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R) in 2018 after raising nearly $80M. Instead of challenging U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R) two years later, O’Rourke launched an ill-fated and ill-fitting presidential campaign. After initial buzz – He raised $9M during the first few weeks following his announcement – O’Rourke failed to gain any traction in polls while fundraising slipped. He raised $9M more before ending his campaign before the Texas filing period began.

Abbott entered the second half of 2021 with more than $55M on hand, and he reported raising $4.5M during the first two special sessions (The third special session report is due Thursday.). Even if he did not raise another dollar, Abbott would have nearly double the amount of money on hand as Cruz raised during the entire 2017-18 cycle. But raise money he will. Abbott raised $34M between July 1, 2017 and the end of 2018.

O’Rourke’s entry into the race is by two days the third earliest of the last seven presumptive frontrunners for the nomination:

  • December 6, 2017 – Lupe Valdez launches campaign, resigns as Dallas County Sheriff
  • October 3, 2013 – Wendy Davis announces
  • December 4, 2009 – Mark White announces
  • July 28, 2005 – Chris Bell announces in email to supporters
  • September 4, 2001 – Tony Sanchez announces
  • November 17, 1997 – Garry Mauro announces

No Democrat has won the governor’s race since Ann Richards in 1990.

Rating Change: HD31 moved to Likely Republican from Lean Republican following Rep. Ryan Guillen’s (R-Rio Grande City) party switch announcement.

HD37 open (Lean D): State Board of Education member Ruben Cortez (D) announced he would run for the seat. He released a set of endorsements including Sen. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio) and Reps. Terry Canales (D-Edinburg), Oscar Longoria (D-Mission) and Sergio Muñoz Jr. (D-Mission).

HD62 (Safe R): Tom Bean salon owner and former SD30 candidate Shelley Luther announced she will challenge Rep. Reggie Smith (R-Val Alstyne) in the primary. Luther lost a 2020 special runoff election for SD30 to then-Rep. Drew Springer (R-Muenster), 56%-44%. She raised nearly $2M for that race, buoyed by her conservative celebrity status after being briefly jailed for defying Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) business closure mandate. The Texas Supreme Court eventually voided a Dallas Co. order holding her in contempt.

HD68 (Safe R): Forestburg pilot and volunteer firefighter Mark F. Middleton established a campaign committee for a potential primary challenge of Rep. David Spiller (R-Jacksboro). In April, Middleton and his wife Jalise were charged with assaulting police officers while participating in the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

HD84 open (Likely R): Lubbock college professor Alexander W. Salter established a campaign committee for a potential run for the seat being vacated by Rep. John Frullo (R-Lubbock), likely as a Libertarian.

HD118 (Toss Up): Rep.-elect John Lujan (R-San Antonio) will be sworn in tomorrow (Tuesday).

CD1 “open” (Safe R): Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran (R) announced he is exploring a run for the seat held by U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tyler), who is himself exploring a primary challenge of Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton (R). He released a list of supporters including Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), former Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), Smith Co. Sheriff Larry Smith (R) and Gregg Co. Sheriff Maxey Cerliano (R). Moran said he would seek re-election if Gohmert decides to seek re-election.

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