Texas House Republican incumbents draw most primary challengers in a decade

Welcome to the Monday, February 5, 2024, Brew. 

By: Juan Garcia de Paredes

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Texas House Republicans running for re-election draw most primary challengers in a decade after two 2023 votes divided the caucus
  2. Biden issues no executive orders in January
  3. Candidate filing deadlines set to pass in four states this month 

Texas House Republicans running for re-election draw most primary challengers in a decade after two 2023 votes divided the caucus

Fifty-nine Republican primaries for seats in the Texas House of Representatives will take place on March 5. That’s the most contested Republican primaries in at least a decade.

Forty-five of those primaries involve a challenger facing an incumbent—also a decade high.

This year is also the first election since at least 2014 where more than half of all Republican incumbents running for re-election (59%) face primary challengers. 

This year’s above-average number of competitive primaries involving incumbents are taking place against the backdrop of two 2023 votes that divided the House GOP caucus.

One was the impeachment vote of Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) in May 2023. The Texas House voted 121-23 to impeach Paxton following a committee’s investigation into several misconduct allegations during his tenure. Sixty House Republicans and 61 Democrats voted in support of impeachment. 

As of Jan. 30, Paxton, who was acquitted on all impeachment articles by the Texas Senate, had endorsed 19 challengers running against Republican incumbents who voted to impeach him. Paxton had also endorsed three of the incumbents who voted against his impeachment. 

Additionally, last November, the Republican caucus split over removing a provision for school vouchers from HB1, an education funding bill. The vote removing the provision passed 84-63, with 21 Republicans joining 63 Democrats to remove it. After the vote, HB1 was recommitted to committee and legislators took no further action on it.

Gov. Greg Abbott (R) supported the school voucher measure and said he would oppose legislators who voted to remove it. 

Abbott has so far endorsed all 59 Republican incumbents running for re-election who voted for keeping the school voucher provision in the education bill. Abbott had also endorsed eight challengers running against candidates who voted to remove the provision.

Overall, a greater proportion of candidates who voted against school vouchers and in favor of impeaching Paxton face primary challenges than candidates who did not:

  • All 16 House members seeking re-election who voted against school vouchers—15 of whom also voted in favor of impeachment—face primary challenges. 
  • Twenty-six of the 40 incumbents (65%) who voted in favor of impeachment and in favor of vouchers face primary challenges. 
  • Of the 17 legislators seeking re-election who voted against impeachment and in favor of vouchers, two (11.8%) face primary challenges.

Between 2014 and 2022, an average of 25 Republican incumbents faced primary challengers.

Between 2014 and 2024, 35% of all Republican incumbents who ran for re-election faced primary challengers. 

To put those numbers into context, an average of 22% state legislative incumbents around the country faced primary challengers between 2010 and 2022. 

From 2012-2022, 28 Republican Texas House incumbents lost their primaries, an average of 4.7 per year. This includes three Republican incumbents who lost their primaries in 2018, another election year when the party caucus was split along two factions, one supporting then-House Speaker Joe Straus (R) and those opposing him.

Texas is one of 44 states holding state legislative elections this year. The state is also one of 23 with a Republican trifecta, meaning the party controls the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature.

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Biden issues no executive orders in January 

President Joe Biden (D) issued no executive orders in January, keeping his total at 130. This is the second January, and the third month overall, during Biden’s tenure in which he issued no executive orders. Biden issued no orders in November 2022 and January 2023. 

In 2023, Biden issued 24 executive orders, fewer than he issued in 2022 (29) and 2021 (77).

Biden has issued a total of 130 executive orders thus far, ranking third among all presidents since 1994 at this point in their first three years in office. Bill Clinton (D) issued the most (140) during his first three years in office, and Barack Obama (D) issued the fewest (109).

Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) issued an average of 307 executive orders per year, the most of all U.S. presidents. William Henry Harrison (Whig) issued none during his one month in office. Three presidents issued only one executive order each: James Madison (Democratic-Republican), James Monroe (Democratic-Republican), and John Adams (Federalist).

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Candidate filing deadlines in four states this month

In our first Brew edition of 2024, we caught you up with the statewide primary deadlines that were coming up at the start of the year. Now that we’ve entered February, let’s review this month’s deadlines.  

Four states have statewide filing deadlines in February: Indiana, Maryland, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania. 

New Mexico’s filing deadline for candidates seeking pre-primary designation Feb. 6. Indiana and Maryland’s filing deadline for all statewide and congressional candidates is Feb. 9, while Pennsylvania’s is Feb. 13. 

Additionally, the deadline for incumbents running for re-election in Nebraska is Feb. 15. Non-incumbents must file by March 1st. 

As of this writing, filing deadlines for candidates running for statewide offices have passed in 11 states. 

The first 2024 filing deadline for state and congressional primary candidates was Alabama’s, on Nov. 10, 2023. West Virginia was the most recent deadline to pass, on Jan. 17.  

Looking ahead, 12 states have filing deadlines in March—the most of any single month. 

Alabama, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, and Texas share the earliest 2024 statewide primary date, March 5. Louisiana will hold the latest statewide primary on Nov. 5 due to its unique majority-vote system.

On average, there are 91 days between a state’s filing deadline and the primary date. Utah, at 169 days, has the longest period between filing and primary, while Mississippi has the shortest, at 60 days.

In 18 states, presidential and statewide primaries fall on the same date.

Click the link below to learn more about 2024 primary dates and deadlines. 

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