The 2022 Texas governor's race will have more challengers, but that may not matter in the end. Gov. Greg Abbott officially launched his campaign for a third term earlier this month, as he faces a crowded field in the upcoming GOP primary on March 1. That field includes former state Senator Don Huffines and former Congressman and Texas GOP Chairman Allen West, both of whom are challenging Abbott from the right. If he gets past the primary, Abbott will likely face Democrat Beto O'Rourke, the former U.S. Senate candidate who gave Ted Cruz a tough race in 2018 before flaming out as a presidential candidate a year later.
Despite the crowded field, Abbott enters 2022 as the overwhelming favorite to win reelection. "Greg Abbott will win the Republican primary," says Mark Jones, Rice University political science professor. "The only real question is does he win it on March 1st, and if so by what margin?"
Jones believes Abbott made a shrewd move by tacking to the political right last year, after an uneven 2020 where the governor faced criticism from the left and right over his initial handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. "He didn't leave much room for the likes of Huffines and West to make a campaign against him among GOP voters," says Jones. "Because Abbott gave GOP voters pretty much everything they wanted during the 2021 legislative session."
As for the general election, Jones believes that also heavily favors the incumbent. "Beto will force Abbott to compete in a way that (2018 Democratic nominee) Lupe Valdez did not four years ago," he says. "But in the end, the result will be the same." A poll last month from Qunnipiac University showed Abbott leading O'Rourke by 15 points.
"Abbott's very conservative 2021 legislative session, combined with President Donald Trump's endorsement, and having more than 65 million dollars in the bank to start the campaign...with all of that, I think Governor Abbott is in great shape to be reelected," says Jones.