The new Senate map that was adopted by lawmakers in the fall eliminated nearly all partisan competition in the 31 districts.
Prior to the process, there were six Senate districts where partisan leanings based on the Texas Partisan Index (TPI) favored Republicans or Democrats with equal to or less than 55 percent against the other party.
Now the most competitive district, belonging to retiring Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville) has a TPI rating of D-56%.
However, in addition to Lucio, three other senators announced they would be retiring, one launched a bid for a statewide office, and redistricting shifted the partisan leanings of another district from slightly Democratic to safely Republican.
Those shake-ups could lead to some potentially competitive primary elections in a few months, which are listed below.
The primary election is slated for March 1, runoff elections for races where no candidate receives over 50 percent of the vote will be held on May 24, and the general election will be held on November 8.
- Senate District (SD) 10
- Under the new Texas Senate map, the only district anticipated to change party control is SD 10, currently held by Sen. Beverly Powell (D-Burleson). It shifted from a TPI of D-51% to R-60%.
- Previously located entirely in Tarrant County, the district is now anchored in Tarrant County but reaches out to include a sizable portion of Parker County as well as the entire counties of Brown, Callahan, Johnson, Palo Pinto, Shackelford, and Stephens.
- State Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford) has launched a bid against Powell with the endorsement of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, but will first face Arlington attorney Warren Norred.
- SD 11
- Midway through the filing period for the March primary election, Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) announced his retirement from the legislature and Rep. Mayes Middleton (R-Galveston) immediately announced his campaign for the seat.
- In addition to Middleton, GOP contenders for the race include Robin Armstrong, Bianca Gracia, and Bob Mitchell.
- SD 12
- Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) announced this summer that she would not be seeking another term in her Senate seat, leaving the Denton County-anchored district open for a new member.
- Before redistricting, the seat was contained within Denton and Tarrant counties, but now it reaches into Wise and Dallas counties as well.
- State Rep. Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) announced a campaign to succeed Nelson and received the endorsement of Patrick, but will face off against Dallas businessman Chris Russell.
- SD 24
- With Sen. Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway) running for the open position of Texas Land Commissioner, her central Texas district was redrawn to exclude her hometown in Travis County but to now reach south of San Antonio, the hometown of former state Sen. Pete Flores (R-Pleasanton).
- Flores, backed by Patrick, is running for election to the new district which is much more favorable to Republicans than his previous seat. But two other GOP candidates are vying for the nomination: Lamar Lewis and Raul Reyes.
- Though the strong leaning toward the GOP was pared down to shore up Republican support in more competitive neighboring districts, SD 24 remains favorable to Republicans. Its TPI shifted from R-69% to R-62%.
- SD 31
- When the Senate approved its map, Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) was the lone Republican to vote against it, claiming that the removal of some of the Texas Panhandle counties and the addition of counties closer to Midland in his sweeping West Texas district was an effort to support someone campaigning for SD 31, Kevin Sparks.
- A few weeks after Donald Trump weighed in on the race to support Sparks and attack Seliger, the incumbent announced his retirement.
- SD 31, still the most Republican-leaning Texas Senate seat with a TPI of R-80%, has three other GOP contenders: Stormy Bradley, Jesse Quackenbush, and Tim Reid.
Republican Incumbents Facing Primary Challenges:
- SD 8: Sen. Angela Paxton
- Matt Rostami
- SD 25: Sen. Donna Campbell
- Channon Cain
- SD 27
- While a wide swath of Republican senators opted to make the current term their last one, only one Democrat in the chamber did not file for reelection: Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville).
- Four Democrats have launched bids to succeed Lucio, including his former primary challenger, Sara Stapleton-Barrera; state Rep. Alex Dominguez (D-Brownsville); McAllen attorney and businesswoman Morgan LaMantia; and former congressional candidate Salomon Torres.
Democratic Incumbents Facing Primary Challenges:
- SD 15: Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston)
- Molly Cook
- SD 10
- With the partisan shift toward Republicans in SD 10, Powell will face an uphill battle in her reelection bid but was the only Democrat to file for a place on the ballot.
- More than at the polls, the battle could play out in court as Powell joined a lawsuit challenging the new map. So far, though, the courts have not taken any action against the legislature’s changes and the election process is proceeding with the new lines in place.
- SD 27
- As with the state House and congressional maps, the most competitive seat in the Texas Senate is expected to be in South Texas.
- After redistricting, the district’s TPI shifted from D-63% to D-56%.
- In 2018, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Gov. Greg Abbott received only 41.1 percent and 48 percent in the district, respectively. In 2020, President Donald Trump and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) received 47.1 percent and 46.4 percent, respectively. On the whole, Republicans received a median 41.9 percent against Democrats in 2018, which increased to 46 percent in 2020.
- The Democratic nominee to replace Lucio will face off against one of three possible Republicans in November: Adam Hinojosa, Israel Salina, or Raul Torres.
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.