TEXAS (Nexstar) — Incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott went up against multiple primary candidates, but the Associated Press declared him the winner of the Republican nomination for governor in the Texas primaries just after 8 p.m. Tuesday. He will be running to keep his current position as governor in November.
As indicated by recent polling, both Abbott and former El Paso Congressman O’Rourke ended up on top of their respective parties. Click here to see a full list of people on the primary ballot.
Gubernatorial primary results
The Republican Primary
The Associated Press is declaring Gov. Greg Abbott the winner of the Republican nomination for Texas governor in the primaries. Abbott received 66.41% (1,292,351) of the vote. Allen West received 12.26% (238,657), Don Huffines had 11.98% (233,107), Chad Prather had 3.80% (73,987), Rick L. Perry had 3.20% (62,353), Kandy Kaye Horn had 1.21% (23,494), Paul Belew had 0.58% (11,324) and Danny Harrison had 0.55% (10,774).
During his victory speech from the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi, Abbott reminded voters that “freedom is on the ballot,” touting his successes and drawing contrast from his now official Democratic challenger O’Rourke.
While the crowd chanted “no-Rourke” during his remarks, Abbott did not mention O’Rourke by name during his brief speech.
“Texans face a very profound question this election — do we take a left turn that leads to more government and less freedom…a path that would destroy jobs, open our borders and endanger our communities,” Abbott said in his remarks. “Or do we maintain the course of a secure greater freedom, more jobs and safer communities. I’m running for reelection to keep Texas on the right course to keep Texas exceptional.”
Abbott painted a picture of a different, worse type of Texas under O’Rourke’s potential leadership — a vision appearing almost frightening to the conservative crowd in attendance.
“Where we have cut taxes, they seek to raise them. Where we have created jobs, they would destroy them. Where we have protected your constitutional rights, they threaten to take them away. Where we have promoted exceptionalism, they stoke fear-mongering,” Abbott said. “We will not let them win this state.”
His speech was often met with outbursts from the crowd such as “keep Texas red” and “let’s go Brandon” — a popular codeword embraced by conservatives for an explicative phrase meant to disrespect President Joe Biden.
The Democratic Primary
The Associated Press is declaring Beto O’Rourke the winner of the Democratic primary for governor. He earned 91.37% (976,542) of the vote. Joy Diaz got 3.14% (33,536), Michael Cooper had 3.04% (32,517), Rich Wakeland had 1.23% (13,195) and Inocencio Barrientez had 1.21% (12,934).
The former El Paso congressman officially announced his bid for governor in November. He is the only major Democrat with political experience to challenge Republican incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott. He previously came within two two percentage points of the incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018.
O’Rourke gave his remarks from Tarrant County, a typical Republican stronghold that has been narrowly carried by Democrats in the last two election cycles. O’Rourke hopes he can do that again come November.
“This group of people and then some in 2018 made me the first Democrat to win Tarrant County since 1994,” he said. “And then this group of people, and then some, are gonna make me the first Democratic to be governor of the state of Texas since 1994. This is on us.”
While O’Rourke spent time focusing on an optimistic future for his party, he also directly targeted Abbott during his victory speech.
“We work hard and do good work and we’re good to one another. That’s not reflected in those who hold power and positions of public trust in this state right now,” he said.
Who challenged Abbott and O’Rourke?
There were eight Republican candidates on the primary ballot, besides Abbott. These included Don Huffines and Allen West, who have arguably received the most media attention among those who went up against Abbott.
Huffines received a lot of media attention after interviews and advertisements. During a Sunday night Cowboys football game, Huffines promised a Super Bowl win for the team if he is elected governor in an ad paid for by the Don Huffines Campaign.
In a concession statement, Huffines said he will not contest the results. He also took credit for getting conservative policy items passed during the 2021 legislative session, arguing he helped pressure Abbott to the right.
“For over a year our campaign has driven the narrative in Texas and forced Greg Abbott to deliver real conservative victories like the Texas Heartbeat Act, Constitutional Carry, and protecting children from abusive transgender transitioning. When I entered the race, Greg Abbott opposed the border wall, was silent on sex-change surgeries for kids, allowed CRT in Texas classrooms and agencies, and even refused to stop vaccine mandates. Our campaign forced him to address each of these issues and deliver outcomes that will help everyday Texans. Though I will not be contesting the outcome of this election, I will not be going away. I will always fight to defend the God-given rights and liberties of Texans.”Don Huffines
West was another contender for the Republican primary spot. He is an American politician and retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel. From 2020 to 2021, West served as the Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas and represented Florida’s 22nd congressional district from 2011 to 2013.
Another name on the primary ballot was Rick Perry, who is in no way related to the former governor. He is a computer engineer from Springtown. Paul Belew, a criminal defense attorney; Danny Harrison, a north Texas landscape business owner; Kandy Kaye Horn, a Houston-area woman who lists her occupation in election filings as a philanthropist; and Chad Prather, a conservative YouTube talk show host, rounded out the ballot.
Abbott’s initiatives as governor are to build a healthier, safer, freer and more prosperous future for all Texans, as stated on the state’s website.
During his term, the governor advocated for a stronger southern border. He opposed vaccine and mask mandates, instead emphasizing voluntary vaccinations across the state. He also signed into law one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, prohibiting abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
Former public radio journalist Joy Diaz left her position at KUT in Austin in November to run for governor, saying the issues that are top of mind for her are the border, public education and state preparedness.
Michael Cooper is a Beaumont native, pastor and father of seven, is running on education, climate change, and criminal justice reform, among other platforms listed on Cooper’s official campaign website.
Rich Wakeland and Inocencio (Inno) Barrientez round out the Democratic ballot. Wakeland is a retired Navy reserve captain and a registered professional engineer and licensed attorney. Barrientez was named as a candidate on the Texas Secretary of State’s site but doesn’t appear to have an official website or social media.
Texas has not had a Democratic governor since 1994 when George W. Bush ousted incumbent Democratic governor Ann Richards.