With the pandemic in the Texas rearview mirror and hopefully staying there, let’s look ahead to the 2022 elections. The good news is there’s no sign of any Democrat resurgence. The leftist party has no discernible leader or leadership, and no credible story to tell to move Texans to vote for them. The Lone Star State is doing much better than its large blue counterparts California and New York, so much so that residents of both have been moving to Texas in droves. Florida is providing meaningful competition from the right, which is a nice change of pace. The nation’s four largest states — California, Texas, Florida, and New York, respectively — have chosen teams for the time being, and the blue ones are losing residents and losing representation in Congress while the red ones gain both. The red ones have recovered from COVID far more quickly than the blue ones. Crime is lower in the red ones than the blue ones. The Tejano vote in Texas continues shifting red, giving Democrats zero hope for 2022 in Texas, or close to that.
Numerous statewide offices will be up for grabs in Texas in 2022, starting with governor and lieutenant governor but also including, in no particular order, agriculture commissioner, comptroller, land commissioner, one of the railroad commission slots, attorney general, a bunch of judgeships, many state senate seats, and of course every seat in both the U.S. and state Houses.
Despite rumblings and dissatisfaction with some of Gov. Greg Abbott’s COVID policies and the ongoing issues with the border and the state’s electric grid, and despite an announced primary challenge from the wealthy former state Sen. Don Huffines and a possible challenge from retired Lt. Col. Allen West, Gov. Abbott will probably be fine for reelection. West resigned as chair of the state’s Republican Party (where I once worked) to run for…something…but he hasn’t said what yet. Meanwhile Abbott has more than $30 million in the bank, the power of incumbency, several legislative achievements, and a very large stick to wield in the form of special legislative sessions. He has already announced one, for July 8, but hasn’t set the agenda for it yet. Special sessions are a Texas governor’s most powerful weapon. The governor as a position is constitutionally weak in Texas, until he calls a special session. The governor not only has that unilateral power, he also sets the agenda — what will and will not be considered during that session. Abbott has made moves since the sine die of the regular session to shore up the border and he has signed constitutional carry and other conservative-backed bills into law. This helps shore his position up with the base. He can concentrate fire however he wants during any number of special sessions, and be sure he will. Any issues he has on the right are pretty likely to be dispensed by the time the special session(s) are done.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick doesn’t even have any serious challengers yet. He might have had one in current Land Commissioner George P. Bush, but once his camp started floating rumors that he would run in the primary against Patrick, Patrick moved to crush those real quick and chased Bush out of that race entirely. This gives you a read on how that primary would have probably played out.
Bush has landed in what is likely to be the most important statewide contest in Texas, however: attorney general.
As I’ve been saying and writing since inauguration, as the Biden administration uses executive orders to push its far-left agenda outside of Congress, it will be up to states to put up resistance. So far they are. Texas has led the way or allied with those states that are pushing back and fighting for the republic, launching or joining at least four lawsuits challenging various Biden executive orders. That’s a rate of one lawsuit challenge a month, which would exceed Abbott’s pace of suing the Obama administration when he was the Texas attorney general. I’d say that’s a good start.
The role of states to push back and challenge Biden’s executive orders is a vital one. The more Biden uses executive orders, the more he cuts Congress out of the lawmaking (get real if you don’t think some of his executive orders amount to dictating law from the Oval Office), the more it’s up to states to take up challenges. Otherwise, Biden will be a dictator in fact if not in name — and he will continue to push as hard as he can against everything from energy to First and Second Amendment rights to you name it. He’ll keep on racking up humiliating court losses, but he doesn’t seem to care. The mainstream media will not challenge him. Democrats are fully on board with using strokes of the pen to tell Americans what to do. The states must push back, with Republican-led states leading the way. The bigger the red state, the more responsibility to lead it has.
Attorney General requires a fighter
Biden’s tendency to use executive orders means the role of Texas attorney general gains enormous importance. As the nation’s largest red state, and practically a country all by itself, Texas has the responsibility to defend its interests and step up to work with other like-minded states. Attorney general is the office that will lead state challenges from Texas. The governor doesn’t appoint that office and doesn’t even have a constitutional say in what it does. In Texas, attorney general is elected separately and has its own constitutional powers. So even if Matthew McConaughey were to somehow upset Abbott in the governor’s race, the attorney general could still wake up every day, go to the office, and sue Joe Biden.
Current Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing Biden relentlessly and strategically and has already racked up a win in the Louisiana-led lawsuit against Biden’s unilateral “pause” on oil and gas leases on federal lands. If he wasn’t mired in several scandals — and he is — Paxton would be the odds-on favorite to keep his job. Many in the Texas GOP base value his work. But the scandals have piled up and may catch up with him in a third term.
Bush retreated from the lt. gov. primary and landed in the AG primary, but he has no record of experience in anything the office actually does. He reportedly let his law license lapse for years, before renewing it prior to running for attorney general. So he has no courtroom experience and no record of fighting. He went silent on his marquee project at the General Land Office for more than two years, two years which saw that project fall apart. Passivity in the attorney general’s office is not likely to save the state from Biden’s predations.
Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman announce her run for AG on Monday. She has 22 years of experience as a conservative judge and has the life experiences of a fighter rising from humble circumstances to break records for earning votes in the Republican primary and the general election. There’s no hint of scandal with her. The Tejano vote is shifting Republican, but the party needs to recapture the suburbs, which traditionally lean right but shifted the other way during the past four to six years. Could Guzman help bring the ‘burbs back to the GOP? Her life story is very compelling.
The Texas attorney general will have to be a shrewd and strategic conservative fighting general as long as Democrats hold the White House. Texas voters should keep this in mind.
Land Commissioner deals with a lot more than land
I’d rank attorney general as the most important contested office in Texas in 2022. That’s even assuming that Republicans capture the U.S. House, or the Senate, or both. In fact, if Democrats lose either or both sides of Congress, the occupant of the White House can be expected to strike several blows against the republic by legislating from the Oval Office at the same or exceeding the pace Biden set during his first weeks in the presidency. That’s a lot of executive overreaches to take to court.
Right after attorney general, I’d rank land commissioner as the second most important race in Texas. Now, I know what you’re thinking: What on earth is a land commissioner and why should I care?
The land commissioner in Texas is elected, Bush is the current one, and the General Land Office deals with veteran benefits, education funding via oil and gas royalties, keeping the beaches clean…and the Alamo. State law puts the General Land Office in sole command of the Shrine of Texas Liberty. That’s a much more difficult role than most people realize.
The Alamo is under a sustained woke leftist assault to rewrite its history and render its heroes into villains. It’s similar to the discredited 1619 Project, in fact it’s very much imitating that project. I’ve spilled a lot of pixels about that and will continue to spill more because it’s important and because the mainstream media is handling that the same way it handles everything else — marching in uniform lockstep with the far left. The battle over the Alamo’s history has become a national story, with zero pushback of any kind from any mainstream media outlet in San Antonio or across the whole state. Not one Texas media outlet has seen fit to defend the Alamo. Academia has largely stayed on the sidelines as well, despite the fact that many history professors in Texas do not agree with woke revisionism (because it’s demonstrably wrong). They just won’t say so out loud, yet.
The next land commissioner will inherit this fight, which includes battling some strong woke elements within the city of San Antonio and fighting the media, while working with the city on a project to restore and protect the Alamo. A key battleground in this fight is the 1836 battleground itself, along with the museum that’s being built to tell the Alamo’s story. What story will it tell — the facts, or a woke distortion? That’s what the battle is about.
This isn’t just a pet project for your humble correspondent. The fight over the Alamo’s story is very much the fight for how Texas will teach its history to future generations. Imagine how much damage teaching kids that the Alamo defenders were fighting for slavery (when they were actually fighting an honorable second American Revolution) can do. The battle to woke the Alamo is ultimately a political effort to undermine Texas exceptionalism and turn the state blue. A Democrat political operative and two far-left journalists wrote the book on which the current battle is based.
Bush’s silence over the past two years has not helped the cause, and sources have told me that his silence was all about distancing himself from a project that soured under his leadership. It’s political, in other words. Alamo supporters including myself, an intrepid publisher of Texas history books, producer and Alamo advocate Gary Foreman, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Texas Scorecard, Lt. Gov. Patrick, former Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, former Alamo CEO Doug McDonald, key Alamo historians, defender descendants, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, the Alamo Society and others have stepped into the gap to defend the Alamo’s history against the inaccurate and scurrilous charge that the Texas Revolution was about slavery. It wasn’t. We’ve proven that. But the fight goes on.
A slew of candidates including state Sen. Dawn Buckingham, former Real Estate Commissioner Weston Martinez, and Dr. Jon Spiers have announced their candidacies for land commissioner in the Republican primary, where the election will ultimately be decided. Other candidates are likely to jump in (West hasn’t announced what he’s running for yet, and he does discuss the Alamo quite a bit). I’ll be watching this race closely to see who prioritizes the Alamo and what they know and intend to do about it. Right now, that’s the most important mission at the Land Office and it has to be handled with both steel and finesse. The Alamo’s strategic position is dire, to be honest, not as dire as 1836, but not good at all. The wokes have it surrounded. It requires strong and visionary leadership. The next few years may be the most important to the Alamo since Adina de Zavala saved the Long Barrack.
For more than a decade, when I’ve been on the journalism side of things as I am now I’ve had a rule that I don’t endorse anyone in Texas Republican primaries. I’ve been asked many times, but I’ve declined.
As “Mr. Alamo,” according to the fellows who wrote that book trashing the Alamo, I may have to make an exception in one or both of these races — attorney general and land office. I know, my endorsement and $5 could almost buy you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. These offices are important, more important than most Texans realize, and both take on global importance when you consider the history and future of Texas and its place in the United States.
Disclosure: The writer worked for Bush for four years and led the Alamo project for one of those years.