Tired of Texans running for president? 2024 may be postponed

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – It’s early days yet, but next year’s presidential election could feature something the political world hasn’t seen in 50 years: no Texans.

The Texas-sized hole in the field will be on display Friday at a closed-door Republican donor event outside the state capital of Austin, with figures such as former vice president. Mike Pencewho is expected to launch a campaign, and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki HaleyWHO announced his bid last week.

Some Texans could still run. Republican government Greg Abbott won’t decide until after Memorial Day. Republican Sen. Ted Cruzwho ran in 2016, says for now he’s focusing on re-election next year. Will Hurda former CIA agent and former Republican congressman from San Antonio, is seriously considering a bid and may hire staff, aides say.

If neither seeks the White House, it would be the first time since 1972 without at least one major candidate gaining public prominence in Texas or living in the state while running for or holding office.

Finding the next most recent presidential cycle without a Texan requires going all the way back to 1952, four years before Lyndon B. Johnson made his first attempt at the White House.

“Obviously, there are some constitutional amendments that voters supported back then that say, ‘If you’re governor of Texas, consider running for president,'” joked Dave Carney, Abbott’s chief strategist and top strategist for Texas Gov. . Rick Perry’s 2012 presidential election. “And many of them have. For better or worse.”

Some Texans’ White House runs were truly forgettable.

That includes Democratic Senator Lloyd Bentsen’s run in 1976 and bids by Republican Representative Ron Paul in 2008 and Republican Senator Phil Gramm in 1996. John Connally was the Democratic governor of Texas from 1963 to 1969, but sought the White House as a Republican in 1980 .Dallas businessman Ross Perot had never run for office but mounted major presidential campaigns in 1992 and 1996.

If this cycle continues without a Texas official, it won’t actually be a sign of the state’s waning political influence. Texas’ booming population has added nearly 4 million residents since 2010 while becoming younger and more diverse. Its strong economy has attracted tech companies and business people who have flocked from all over the country.

Texas has also become one bastion of conservative prioritiesadoption of one of the the nation’s strictest anti-abortion laws even before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and dramatically loosen gun restrictions while calling federal attacks along the US-Mexico border.

“I think every year a Texan who’s not in the presidential race is disappointing to me,” said George Seay, a major Dallas-based GOP donor who was Perry’s finance chairman in 2012 and supported Marco Rubio in 2016.

“With all due respect to Florida, which is an incredibly compelling, right-wing state from a political standpoint,” Seay added, “Texas is the sun, the moon and the stars.”

A possible presidential run without a Texan would be a departure from recent cycles, which featured more than one. The 2012 GOP presidential primary pitted Paul against Perry, and 2016’s with Perry and Cruz. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke and former San Antonio Major Julian Castro both ran for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Although only three presidents have actually called Texas home, the state has left a mark on Washington.

Long after he left office, a Braniff Airlines flight called the “LBJ Special” continued to fly from Washington Dulles to Austin every afternoon, an unusual nonstop flight for the time. President George W. Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, was the “White House of the West,” but only because Johnson’s ranch in Stonewall, where he spent nearly a quarter of his presidency, had already claimed the name “Texas White House.”

Bush even flew his favorite caterer, Eddie Deen, from suburban Dallas to Washington to serve smoked ribs and stuffed jalapenos at his inaugural ball. His father, President George HW Bush, was a congressman from Houston and incorporated the state’s rugged ethos into his political brand, trying to spice up his Northeastern upbringing with a dash of down-home.

“Everything is bigger in Texas, including the egos of our already big politicians,” said Mark Updegrove, executive director of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation, who noted that it has paid off over the decades for presidential candidates of both parties to play up their Texas scams .

Since the modern era of presidential campaigning began in 1972, Texans have been involved in more cycles than any other state. California candidates have launched multiple overall bids of 19, according to Eric Ostermeier, a researcher at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs. But Texans and New Yorkers are second, producing a total of 15 candidates each.

Ostermeier says he counts a home state as a place where a candidate gained public prominence or lived when they ran for office. It means Houston-born Marianne Williamsonwho lives in Beverly Hills and is preparing for a Democratic presidential run in 2024, would qualify as a Californian.

More clarity on possible Texans in the 2024 primary campaign will come after the state legislature adjourns in late May. Carney said Abbott will then “look at how the state of the race is and does he have anything that would be differentiated from the race that would be attractive to voters.”

“The governor doesn’t want to be a spoiler,” Carney said. “But if he thinks he has something to offer, he can run. If he thinks there are enough people running with the same, similar ideas that he has,” then probably not.

Hurd, who retired from Congress in 2021 after three terms representing Texas’ most competitive House district, traveled to New Hampshire recently and is planning trips to other early primary states.

Cruz says he is concentrating on his Senate run next year, but has not ruled out another presidential run. He could do both. Texas’ so-called LBJ Act allows running for the Senate and the presidency simultaneously, and Bentsen was re-elected to his seat while losing the vice presidency in 1988.

A Cruz aide called the prospect of no Texans in the presidential race since 1972 a “smart little trivia.” ___

Weissert reported from Washington.

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