Kleberg was the clear party favorite, vastly outspending Martinez and enjoying an obvious endorsement advantage.
However, Kleberg initially failed to translate these advantages into votes. Despite spending only a few hundred dollars, Martinez won the March 1 primary with 32 percent. Kleberg came in second with 26 percent on March 1.
Initially, moderates and progressives seemed split between Kleberg and attorney Jinny Suh, who took third place in the March 1 primary, with Suh assuming the reputation of an upstart progressive champion. Kleberg’s first slew of endorsements came from more moderate South Texas Democrats.
After the primary broke into a runoff between Kleberg and Martinez, more progressive Democrats began to rally behind Kleberg. He currently has the support of high-profile Democrats as distant on the ideological spectrum as state Sen. Sarah Eckhardt (D-Austin) and Rep. Terry Canales (D-Edinburg), along with the coveted endorsement of gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke.
Current Texas land commissioner George P. Bush is vacating the office, making it the only open statewide seat in Texas.
The land commissioner heads the Texas General Land Office (GLO), the agency responsible for managing Texas’ public land. The oldest agency in Texas, the GLO was formed before Texas joined the United States.
The GLO’s major duties include leasing public land to generate money for the Texas Permanent School Fund, providing homestead loans to veterans, managing the Alamo, and conserving natural ecosystems.
Kleberg grew up on the famed King Ranch and touts his experience in environmental conservation. He will face state Sen. Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway) in the general election in November. Since all statewide offices are occupied by Republicans, Bush will likely pass the torch to Buckingham.
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