2024 Election Alert: Attorney General Paxton May Hold Secret to 2024 Texas Senate Campaigns

Could Senators who'd previously anticipated running in 2026 suddenly be required to run in 2024?

AUSTIN, Texas (Texas Insider Report) — As the 2023 Legislative Session enters its final weeks, many are already looking forward to the next round of elections – and talking about the composition of the Texas Senate. But few have discussed the role that the Attorney General of Texas may play in determining who the Senators will be when the 89th Legislature begins in January of 2025.

Here's some Background

Last session's redistricting process began late because of both the COVID-19 Pandemic, and the federal government's delay in getting official census data to the states. This meant that new legislative district maps were not drawn and passed until the 3rd Special Session in 2021.

Because of this late start and final adoption of the state legislative maps, Article 3 Section 28 of the Texas Constitution requires that the legislature reapportion Texas' State House & Senate Districts during this year's 88th Regular Legislative Session. Failure to do so could result in the Legislative Redistricting Board drawing the maps instead of the Legislature.
Theoretically, the 2023 Legislature is thought to be poised to reenact the same maps under which legislators ran in 2022 – however, many are worried that an unintended consequence of 2021's delayed process may be that all 31 Texas State Senators will be required to run again in 2024.

This would be due to another provision of the Texas Constitution (
Article 3 Section 3) which requires that "a new Senate shall be chosen after every apportionment."

Under this view, if the two provisions conflict or are in question, all 31 members of the Texas Senate could be required to run for reelection in two years, rather than half serving out a four-year term and half serving two year terms as is typically the case for elections following the every-ten-years redistricting process.

Such a scenario would mean senators who had previously anticipated running in four years, would now have to suddenly pivot, re-fill their campaign coffers, and potentially even face the prospect of primary election challengers.

This, for obvious reasons, has garnered concern.

That's where the Attorney General Comes In

As with many things in politics these days – particularly in areas that pertain to elections – it is likely the courts will be asked to step in to help determine the effect of the two constitutional provisions.

Should the current Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, be asked to defend the Legislature's redistricting laws and the Texas Secretary of State's actions, his views on the Texas Constitution would impact how many State Senators will face the voters in 2024.

Ken Paxton has been a strong defender of the Constitution during his time as Attorney General, and has a track record of winning election law cases.

Accordingly, whether Paxton thinks all Senators must run again – or whether he thinks the Texas Constitution allows some to keep their seats without having to go back to the voters until 2026 – could have a huge impact on the makeup of the next Texas Senate.