The Back MicThe Back Mic: Abbott Rebukes Biden Nominee on Oil and Gas, Incumbents Seeking Different Office Listed, Two More GOP Officials Face Challengers

This week — Abbott calls for the removal of a federal appointee’s nomination, more state incumbents opt to seek other offices, and two GOP lawmakers draw higher-profile challengers.
November 19, 2021
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Abbott Spars with White House Over Nominee’s Oil and Gas Comments

Earlier this month, a White House nominee to be the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency suggested small and independent oil and gas companies should go bankrupt to help fight climate change.

“A lot of the smaller players in the [oil and gas and coal] industry are going to probably go bankrupt in short order,” Saule Omarova said in a Zoom conference. “At least, we want them to go bankrupt if we want to tackle climate change.”

This week, Governor Greg Abbott called on President Joe Biden to revoke Omarova’s nomination in a letter.

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“Neither a president, nor his appointees, should advocate for the bankruptcy of American businesses,” the letter reads. “As Governor of the largest oil and gas producing state in the United States, I call on you to immediately withdraw the nomination of Saule Omarova for Comptroller of the Currency. Dr. Omarova’s hostility toward the oil and gas sector and the men and women who work in the industry disqualify her from serving in your administration.”

Only Biden has the ability to rescind her nomination.

According to the Energy Information Administration, Texas ranks first in total energy production, crude oil production, natural gas production, and electricity generation. It ranks ninth in coal production.

The oil and gas industry in Texas employs over 400,000 people.

List of State Incumbents Running for Other Office

As the 2022 midterm elections near, the game of political musical chairs has begun. There are a total of 31 open seats for elected state positions. With 18 officials, across the state legislature and congressional positions, retiring, various others are seeking another office.

Below is a list of elected state incumbents who are campaigning for another position:

  • Sen. Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway), running for Land Commissioner
  • Land Commissioner George P. Bush, running for Attorney General
  • Rep. Michelle Beckley (D-Carrollton), running for Lt. Governor
  • Rep. Alex Dominguez (D-Brownsville), running for Senate District 27
  • Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford), running for Senate District 10
  • Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth), running for Attorney General
  • Rep. Ina Minjarez (D-San Antonio), running for Bexar County Judge
  • Rep. Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound), running for Senate District 12
  • Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin), running for the 35th Congressional District
  • Rep. James White (R-Hillister), running for Agriculture Commissioner

There are a few others who are exploring other offices but haven’t yet declared. Those are:

  • Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX-01), exploring run for Attorney General
  • Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin), exploring a run for Austin Mayor
  • Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler), exploring run for 1st Congressional District*

*Contingent upon the incumbent seeking another office.

Two Primary Challengers Jump in Against Incumbent House Republicans

As the candidate filing period has opened, the races during next year’s midterms will become clearer. One thing already clear, though, is that many incumbents will face substantial primaries.

Two such primaries emerged this week when Shelley Luther, the Dallas salon owner who was jailed for violating coronavirus closure orders and ran an unsuccessful campaign for state Senate, and Wesley Virdell, a 2020 congressional candidate in Texas’ 11th Congressional District, both announced their candidacy for separate state House races.

Luther will run for House District 62, a North Texas district consisting of Delta, Fannin, and Grayson counties. It is currently held by Rep. Reggie Smith (R-Sherman) who announced his bid for re-election on November 13.

“Right now, the situation in Texas is worse than ever,” she said in a video, pointing to vaccine mandates, critical race theory in schools, and the border crisis as the race’s top issues.

“Now, I’m running as the only conservative Republican that will fight to take common sense back to Austin.”

Virdell, meanwhile, is running in HD 53, a West Texas district that reaches into the Hill Country currently held by Rep. Andrew Murr (R-Junction).

In an interview with The Texan, Virdell knocked Murr, who announced his re-election bid last month, for reducing voter fraud penalties in the GOP-backed election reform bill. Murr carried the bill and defended it for hours during floor debate, but voted for the reduction presented as a floor amendment by Rep. Steve Allison (R-San Antonio).

Virdell said, “My understanding is [Murr’s] been telling people that he didn’t know it was in there and that it got slipped in so then you would have to ask, well, how are you voting on things that you don’t even know that are that are actually in a bill?”

He also criticized Murr for voting against two House Rules proposals, both of which failed, back in January that would’ve precluded Democrats from being made committee chairs.

“I will go to the capitol and fight until we pass the priorities important to conservative Texans,” Virdell added.

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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is 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.