Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats-Issue 12

Welcome to The Heart of the Primaries, Democratic Edition

March 3, 2022

In this issue: Texas Democratic primary results roundup, Oregon county parties change rules to endorse challenger in OR-05

Texas results roundup

Texas held the nation’s first midterm primaries on Tuesday. Races in which no candidate received a majority of the vote are headed to May 24 runoffs. Here’s a roundup of results from marquee Democratic primaries, current as of Thursday morning. 

The big story of the night: Cuellar and Cisneros in runoff

Texas’ 28th Congressional District: Incumbent Rep. Henry Cuellar and Jessica Cisneros are headed to a runoff. They received 48.4% and 46.9%, respectively. Tannya Benavides received 4.7%. 

Cuellar, who first joined Congress in 2005, is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition and was the only House Democrat to vote against federal legislation to legalize abortion in September. Cuellar says he brought funding to the district for public education, healthcare services, small businesses, veteran’s programs, and immigration services. Cisneros, an immigration attorney, supports Medicare for All and has criticized Cuellar’s positions on abortion, immigration, and pandemic response.

In the 2020 Democratic primary, Cuellar defeated Cisneros 51.8% to 48.2%.

Other marquee primary results

U.S. House

  • Texas’ 15th: This race was too close to call as of Thursday morning. Ruben Ramirez led with 28.3%. Vying for second were Michelle Vallejo with 20.1% and John Villarreal Rigney with 19.2%. Six candidates ran.
  • Texas’ 30th: Jasmine Crockett and Jane Hamilton advanced to a runoff with 48.5% and 17.0% of the vote, respectively. Nine candidates ran. Incumbent Eddie Bernice Johnson (D) didn’t seek re-election.
  • Texas’ 34th: Rep. Vicente Gonzalez Jr. won with 64.8%. Laura Cisneros was second with 23.3%. Seven candidates ran. Gonzalez represents the 15th District and chose to run in the 34th after redistricting. Incumbent Filemon Vela (D) didn’t run for re-election. 
  • Texas’ 35th: Greg Casar won with 61.3%. Eddie Rodriguez had 15.6% and Rebecca J. Viagran, 15.5%. Four candidates ran. This seat is open as incumbent Lloyd Doggett (D) ran in the 37th after redistricting. 
  • Texas’ 37th: Rep. Lloyd Doggett won with 79.2%. Donna Imam was second with 17.8%. Four candidates ran.

State executive

  • Attorney General: This race was too close to call as of Thursday morning. Rochelle Garza received 43.1%. Vying for second were Joe Jaworski with 19.6% and Lee Merritt with 19.5%. Five candidates ran.

Media analysis

The Texas Tribune‘s Joshua Fechter said the following about primary results in terms of incumbents and challengers:  

Texas’ top Republicans mostly fended off challengers in the GOP primary Tuesday. Meanwhile, a slate of progressives made inroads in Democratic primaries for Congress — but fell short of their goal of an immediate sweep that would reshape the Texas’ U.S. House delegation.

Meanwhile, the status quo was largely preserved in the Texas Legislature. No state Senate incumbents lost their seats Tuesday night. In the House, one sitting Democrat lost and no incumbent Republicans were knocked out, though a few were forced into runoffs. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan both saw the vast majority of their favored candidates win primaries in the chambers they preside over.

The New York Times‘ Reid J. Epstein said the following of progressives’ performance in House primaries:

Progressives frustrated by Mr. Biden’s stalled social policy agenda were looking for a boost in Texas and got one — possibly three.

Greg Casar, a former Austin city councilman, won easily Tuesday night and appears poised to come to Washington next year from his safely Democratic district. Another progressive contender, Jessica Cisneros, forced a runoff with Representative Henry Cuellar, a moderate who narrowly defeated her in the 2020 primary but is now under investigation by the F.B.I.

Jasmine Crockett, a state lawmaker who was among the ringleaders of Texas Democrats’ flight to Washington to delay new Republican voting laws last summer, has a large lead but appears bound for a runoff in a Dallas-area district. …

Together, Mr. Casar, Ms. Cisneros and Ms. Crockett would bring new energy to the liberal wing of the House and to “the Squad” of progressive Democrats. Last month, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York came to Texas to campaign for Mr. Casar and Ms. Cisneros.

Following rules changes, Linn and Deschutes County Democrats endorse challenger in OR-05

Democratic Party leaders in Oregon’s Linn and Deschutes counties voted last week to change their committees’ rules against endorsing candidates in primaries. Both parties then endorsed Jamie McLeod-Skinner in the 5th Congressional District Democratic primary. 

McLeod-Skinner, who was the Democratic nominee for Oregon’s 2nd Congressional District in 2018 and ran for Oregon Secretary of State in 2020, is challenging incumbent Rep. Kurt Schrader. Schrader was first elected in 2008 and is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, New Democrat Coalition, and Problem Solvers Caucus. McLeod-Skinner has endorsements from the Working Families Party and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).  

After a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee field organizer spoke on behalf of Schrader at a Deschutes County Democrats meeting on Feb. 10, Deschutes County precinct committee member Sid Snyder said, “[T]he fact that we have the 800-pound gorilla from Washington coming in and weighing in in our primary spurred some of us to say, ‘You know what, we need Deschutes County Democrat voices heard, not just Washington, D.C., Democrat voices heard.'” Noting that redistricting moved the district eastward, Snyder said, “To us, [Schrader is] not an incumbent.” 

According to Daily Kos data, 47% of the new 5th District’s population comes from the old 5th District.

Deschutes County’s rule change only applies to this year’s 5th District primary. Linn County’s new rule applies to all primaries.

So far, Schrader and McLeod-Skinner are the only candidates running in the primary. The filing deadline is March 8 and the primary will be held on May 17. 

Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb endorses Rep. Shontel Brown in OH-11

Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb endorsed Shontel Brown’s re-election bid in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District. Brown defeated Nina Turner in the special Democratic primary last year 50% to 45%. Turner is running against Brown again. 

Bibb mentioned voting rights and federal infrastructure funds Cleveland had received and said, “We won’t be that city of opportunity unless we have a strong voice in Washington that will fight for Cleveland every single day.”

Bibb assumed office in January, succeeding Mayor Frank Jackson, who endorsed Turner in last year’s primary. Turner endorsed Bibb’s mayoral bid (after the primary, in which she endorsed a candidate who didn’t advance).

Brown took office in November and succeeded Marcia Fudge, who left office to become secretary of housing and urban development. Brown was on the Cuyahoga County Council from 2015 to 2021 and chairs the county Democratic Party. Turner was a state senator from 2008 to 2015 and co-chaired Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign.

The primary is scheduled for May 3. Ohio’s congressional district boundaries are in the process of being redrawn. 

Ad shines spotlight on CO-03 Democratic primary

Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District Democratic primary was in the news last week when candidate Alex Walker announced his bid with an ad featuring graphic language and visuals, including feces falling from the sky. 

Walker said, “We are real Coloradans. We deserve a living wage, small government that actually works, and freedom of choice. Instead, we have bull****.” 

Walker’s isn’t the first ad in the race with a fecal focal point. Last May, attorney Cory Wilhelm released an ad in which he said, “Our current representative is full of bull***, and I’m not bull***.”

At least nine candidates are running in the Democratic primary. Six have filled out Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey:

As of Dec. 31, Sandoval, a community organizer, led Democrats in fundraising with $535,000. Wilhelm had $305,000, including $281,000 he loaned his campaign. Two other Democrats had raised six figures—state Rep. Donald Valdez at $286,000 and veterinarian Debby Burnett at $179,000.

Incumbent Lauren Boebert (R) raised more than $3.5 million as of Dec. 31. Boebert was first elected to represent the 3rd in 2020 after defeating incumbent Scott Tipton in the Republican primary 55% to 45%.

Competitiveness data: West Virginia’s primaries

West Virginia’s filing deadline for federal and state elections was Jan. 29. We’ve crunched some numbers to compare how competitive the primaries will be compared to recent election cycles:

U.S. House

Due to population changes, the state lost one district and was apportioned two ahead of the 2022 cycle. West Virginia was apportioned three congressional districts after the 2010 census. All three incumbents filed to run for re-election, two of whom—Reps. David McKinley (R) and Alexander Mooney (R)—are running in the same district.

State legislature

During the 2020 redistricting cycle, the legislature changed the makeup of the House of Delegates. Previously, the chamber had 67 districts with a total of 100 members. Now, the chamber has 100 single-member districts. This did not change the number of delegates, but it increased the number of possible primaries from 134 to 200.

Notes on how these figures were calculated:

  • Candidates per district: divides the total number of candidates by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Open districts: divides the number of districts without an incumbent running by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Contested primaries: divides the number of major party primaries by the number of possible primaries: four in the U.S. House and 234 in the state legislature.
  • Incumbents in contested primaries: divides the number of incumbents in primaries by the number seeking re-election in the given election cycle.



About the author

Amee LaTour

Amee LaTour is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.