Trump’s not on the ballot but in the spotlight as Texas kicks off primary season – Fox News

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AUSTIN, Texas – Voters are heading to the polls in Texas on Tuesday as the nation’s second largest and most populous state kicks off the 2022 primary calendar. And even though he’s not on the ballot, former President Donald Trump’s front and center in several of the most high-profile showdowns.

At the top of the ticket, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is showing off his conservative credentials as he faces a handful of primary challengers from the right. And the governor’s reminding GOP voters that he’s been endorsed by Trump, who remains hands down the most popular and influential politician in the Republican Party.

The former president praised Abbott as they appeared together at a Trump rally in Texas at the end of January, and the governor’s reelection team spotlighted clips from the event in a digital ad running the past several weeks.

ABBOTT SHOWCASES BORDER SECURITY, TRUMP, AS HE FACES PRIMARY CHALLENGERS

 “He’s a great governor. Loves the state. Has my compete and total endorsement,” Trump says in the spot.

While Abbott’s expected to top 50% and avoid a primary runoff, Attorney General Ken Paxton – who like the governor is running for a third four-year term – is facing a much tougher path to the GOP nomination.

Like Abbott, Paxton’s showcasing his conservative record, but unlike the governor, the attorney general is saddled with a slew of corruption allegations, which his rivals have decried, and faces the possibility of being forced into a May runoff.

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But Paxton also enjoys the backing of Trump, and the attorney general has also been showing off that endorsement in his campaign commercials. The former president, in a recent ad, called Paxton an “attorney general who has really led the way. Somebody who has been brave and strong.

But Rep. Louie Gohmert, one of Paxton’s challengers, is also close with the former president. Trump gave the congressman a shout-out at the Texas rally a month ago, which Gohmert showcases in one of his campaign ads. Gohmert, who jumped into the primary battle in November, charges that the former president “was told before he endorsed Paxton that I was definitely not running, and that sure sounded like that was Paxton.” 

But Paxton emphasizes “I know that the president has my back.”

TRUMP AND BUSH DYNASTY FRONT AND CENTER IN TEXAS GOP PRIMARY CLASH

Another top primary challenger, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, last year made an unsuccessful full-court press to land the former president’s endorsement. Bush, along with the other challengers, is warning that the Democrats could win the attorney general election in November if a potentially scandal-crippled Paxton wins the GOP nomination. Bush argued “I think he [Trump] made a mistake, which is fine because Ken wasn’t exactly forthright with the people of Texas, let alone the president about his own legal issues, but this is bigger than any one of us, it’s bigger than me.”

Trump’s also a factor in a couple of the GOP congressional primaries on Tuesday.

Two-term Republican Rep. Van Taylor is facing primary challenges from the right as he runs for reelection his Texas 3rd Congressional District, located northeast of Dallas. Taylor is being hammered for his vote in support of the House Select Committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol by right wing extremists aiming to disrupt congressional certification of now President Biden’s 2020 election over Trump. One of his challengers attacked Taylor as “one of the worst RINOs of all.” RINO is a well-used acronym by those on the right that stands for Republican in name only.

Former President Donald speaks to a crowd a rally at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022 in Conroe, TX. (Photo by Sergio Flores/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Former President Donald speaks to a crowd a rally at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022 in Conroe, TX. (Photo by Sergio Flores/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Veteran Texas-based GOP consultant Brendan Steinhauser noted that Van Taylor is also being challenged “due to the fact that he voted to certify the 2020 presidential election.”

Steinhauser said that if Taylor avoids a runoff, “then perhaps other members of Congress that voted to do the same will overcome their own primary challengers in other states.”

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Rep. Dan Crenshaw is facing three primary challengers as he runs for reelection for a third term in Texas’ 2nd Congressional District in the southeastern portion of the state.

Crenshaw, a two-term conservative congressman who served as a U.S. Navy SEAL in the War in Afghanistan and who lost his right eye in combat, is a well-known politician thanks to his regular cable news appearances. And while Crenshaw offers his party’s base plenty of red meat, he’s at times taken stands not popular with some conservatives. 

Representative Dan Crenshaw, a Republican from Texas, listens during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. Photographer: Anna Moneymaker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Representative Dan Crenshaw, a Republican from Texas, listens during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. Photographer: Anna Moneymaker/Bloomberg via Getty Images (Photographer: Anna Moneymaker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

In a well-publicized moment last summer, he dismissed a heckler who backed former President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims that the 2020 election was “rigged” and “stolen.” And he recently criticized the conservative House Freedom Caucus, as well as freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, a Trump loyalist, and a fan favorite among Trump supporters.

Crenshaw’s challengers have slammed him as a “neocon” and a “RINO” in a district that’s turned a deeper shade of red following the once-in-a-decade redistricting process.

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Since Texas votes first in the 2022 cycle, Steinhauser says Tuesday’s primaries “will be instructive in terms of the future of the Republican Party nationwide. What types of candidates will be nominated? What impact will former President Trump have in primaries this year?”

He noted that “the Texas political class will be paying close attention Tuesday evening, but so will many people across the country.”

Source URL: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/trumps-not-on-the-ballot-but-in-the-spotlight-as-texas-kicks-off-primary-season

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