State Reps. Phil King (R-Weatherford) in Senate District (SD) 10, Mayes Middleton (R-Wallisville) in SD 11, and Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) in SD 12 will move on to the November general in their heavily red districts.
King and Parker only faced one challenger, while Middleton pulled in 56 percent of the vote in his four-person primary.
Midland oilman Kevin Sparks also won his race outright, securing 54 percent of the vote in his four-person primary.
The only nomination still undecided is in SD 24, where former state Sen. Pete Flores will face Raul Reyes in the May 24 runoff.
The five openings came after a handful of incumbent senators opted for retirement. One, Jane Nelson’s (R-Flower Mound), was entirely elective. Others, like Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) in SD 11 and Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) in SD 31, were pushed toward retirement by the formidable opponents who will now succeed them.
King’s challenge is the only one of the group against a sitting Democrat, as Sen. Beverly Powell’s (D-Burleson) district was changed from a toss-up to GOP-favoring in redistricting.
That district has been marked by electoral whiplash — changing parties three times in the last decade including what will likely be a victory for King in November.
Patrick, who presides over the senate with an iron fist, took the opportunity presented by the vacancies to shore up his intra-GOP support within the chamber. In Seliger’s case, Patrick mounted the opposition to his party member behind the scenes and did all he could to convince the senator to step aside — including removing panhandle counties from the district and adding Midland.
If Flores can stave off Reyes in the runoff, the lieutenant governor will bat a thousand in his senate selections.
Patrick’s support often comes with the most sought-after endorsement in GOP politics, from former President Donald Trump. Three of Patrick’s senate picks — Flores, Middleton, and Sparks — also received the Trump stamp.
At January rally in Conroe, Trump gave a shoutout to Patrick, saying “He’s gotten a hell of a lot of endorsements” just by giving the former president a ring.
Patrick himself cruised to victory in his primary that featured Daniel Miller of the Texas Nationalist Movement and grassroots conservative figure Trayce Bradford.
Shoring up these seats in his favor will help the lt. governor push his agenda when the legislature reconvenes in 2023, especially in replacing Seliger who served as a perennial thorn in his side.
The full Senate priority list likely won’t come out until closer to session, but Patrick’s already motioned at an offensive against Texas’ public universities.
“Tenured professors must not be able to hide behind the phrase ‘academic freedom,’ and then proceed to poison the minds of our next generation,” he said, calling for legislation to eliminate tenure for professors at public institutions.
“To address already-tenured professors, we will change tenure reviews from every six years to annually. Additionally, we will define teaching Critical Race Theory in statute as a cause for a tenured professor to be dismissed.”
Dan Patrick has never been shy — not in his legislative goals or in the elections that may dictate them. Now he awaits the SD 24 outcome, and will look to influence that race.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.