GOP Incumbents are Facing a Growing Number of Primary Challengers


Capitol Building in downtown Austin, Texas. | Image from BrandonSeidel

In the upcoming election cycle, the number of Republican incumbents in the Texas State House who will confront primary challengers continues to grow.

The large number of primary challengers represents a heightened degree of intra-party competition compared to the 2020 election cycle.

According to Daniel Friend of The Texan, at least 17 elected officials are being primaried by challengers who have either kicked off a campaign or formally filed to be on the ballot before the December 13 deadline. The number of primaries could grow in the next week as the filing deadline quickly approaches.

This represents a notable contrast from 2020 when only 11 incumbents squared off against primary challengers.

The peak number of primary challenges took place in 2016 when there were 32 races.

According to Friend, the greatest number of challenger victories occurred in 2014 when there were 23 challenges, and six primary challengers were able to unseat incumbents.

Friend argued that “candidates themselves play a crucial role in the outcome of the elections, and challengers who carry more name recognition or have the financial backing to build that recognition are typically more adept at unseating an incumbent.”

Friend listed off some of the Republican incumbents who are squaring off against primary challengers in 2022:

  • Rep. Cecil Bell (R-Magnolia) is being challenged by Kelly McDonald.
  • Rep. Cole Hefner (R-Mt. Pleasant) is being challenged by Dewey Collier.
  • Rep. Travis Clardy (R-Nacogdoches) is being challenged by Greg Caldwell, Rachel Hale, and Mark Williams.
  • Rep. Kyle Kacal (R-College Station) is being challenged by Ben Bius and Joshua Hamm.
  • Rep. Ernest Bailes (R-Shepherd) is being challenged by Janis Holt and Ronnie “Bubba” Tullos.
  • Rep. Ryan Guillen (R-Rio Grande City) is being challenged by Mike Monreal.
  • Rep. Andrew Murr (R-Junction) is being challenged by Wesley Virdell.
  • Rep. Glenn Rogers (R-Graford) is being challenged by Kit Marshall and Mike Olcott.
  • Rep. David Spiller (R-Jacksboro) is being challenged by Mark Middleton.
  • Rep. Phil Stephenson (R-Wharton) is being challenged by Fred Roberts.
  • Rep. Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth) is being challenged by David Lowe, Anthony Reed, and David Silvey.
  • Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R-Fort Worth) is being challenged by Mitchell Ryan.
  • Rep. Steve Allison (R-San Antonio) is being challenged by Michael Champion.

Republican primary elections for the Texas state legislature will take place on March 1, 2022.

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