Happy Labor Day! Most of you are enjoying the holiday by watching baseball, working the grill or enjoying a getaway that involves a pool. There’s also fantasy football drafts and dreams — for some of you — of a Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl run.
Then there’s politics.
Labor Day is typically the launch of the political season, with federal and state candidates starting their campaigns in earnest.
While running for office has become a year-round chore, Labor Day still has its political charm. In North Texas, there will be events that attract politicians, such as the Garland Labor Day Parade. Local Democrats typically attend the local AFL-CIO Labor Day breakfast in Dallas followed by a picnic sponsored by Dallas County Democrats. Collin County Republicans had a picnic on Sept. 2.
After Labor Day, the action intensifies. Here are some political events and contests to watch.
Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial
The impeachment trial of Ken Paxton is the Texas political event of the year, perhaps the decade to this point.
On Tuesday, Texas senators will begin their historic trial on 20 articles of impeachment against the attorney general referred to them by members of the Texas House.
The trial is expected to take weeks to complete and will feature testimony related to allegations of bribery, an extramarital affair, as well as the seedy side of Texas politics. Paxton’s wife, Angela Paxton, is a GOP senator from McKinney, but is recused from voting.
Ken Paxton was in his third term when suspended, pending results of the trial. The verdict will not only impact his career, but potentially be a flashpoint for the 2024 legislative elections. Paxton’s supporters have vowed retribution for the impeachment and possible conviction.
The 2024 Senate race
Sen. Ted Cruz is seemingly always in the spotlight.
This political season, the Republican is up for reelection. He doesn’t have a significant primary challenge, which will allow him to conserve campaign money and resources for the general election, which is Nov. 5, 2024.
Most of the early action is in the Democratic primary, which now features a showdown between U.S. Rep. Colin Allred of Dallas and state Sen. Roland Gutierrez of San Antonio.
This week, state Rep. Carl Sherman of DeSoto is expected to announce whether he’ll run. If he does, it makes the race more intriguing, particularly for North Texas Democrats. There are already other candidates in the field, but they won’t have the resources of the top contenders.
Allred is running as a business-minded Democrat with the ability to work across the aisle and deliver for Texans. Gutierrez says he’ll offer a more progressive view, and that Democrats need a fighter in the Senate.
The congressman has a large fundraising advantage and was the first major Democrat in the race. Gutierrez, who received exposure for his advocacy for the victims of the mass shooting in Uvalde, could be boosted by Latino voters who are significant in a Democratic primary.
The winner of the March primary, or runoff if necessary, will clash with Cruz.
District 32 congressional race
With Allred opting against a fourth term, the District 32 seat in northern and eastern Dallas County is up for grabs.
Since the district was redrawn in 2021 and made it easier for a Democrat to win, the contest to watch is the crowded Democratic primary.
The race includes state Rep. Julie Johnson of Farmers Branch, trauma surgeon Dr. Brian Williams, Dallas lawyer Justin Moore and at least 10 others. That number is expected to swell before the filing deadline in December.
With so many candidates, the March primary could extend into a runoff.
Congressional seats don’t open very often, but the last few cycles in North Texas have produced a changing of the guard in several regions.
In 2022, Democrat Jasmine Crockett won the race to replace trailblazing Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson in southern Dallas-anchored District 30. And former Collin County Judge Keith Self, R-McKinney, replaced Plano Republican Van Taylor in the Collin-County-anchored District 3.
The last few cycles have produced several new faces in Congress from the area, including Republicans Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Jake Ellzey of Waxahachie and Lance Gooden of Terrell.
Another special session
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to order lawmakers back to Austin for an October special session.
Abbott wants the Legislature to pass a bill that would allow Texas public school students to use public money to attend private schools. During the regular session, the Senate approved the voucherlike program, but it has failed to gain traction in the Texas House. That’s where a coalition of rural and urban lawmakers, wary of how such a program would impact public schools, is blocking the plan.
Creating a voucherlike program is a major priority for Abbott, and failure to sign a bill would be a political defeat.
The GOP presidential primary
Donald Trump has a big lead in the Republican race for president.
The former president is battling four criminal indictments. In the coming months, we’ll see how he maneuvers handling his legal problems with trying to win the GOP presidential nomination.
Though national polls show Trump way ahead, early contest states including Iowa and New Hampshire will give candidates a chance to spark their campaigns into contention.
The Texas presidential primary is March 5, and by then the race should be whittled down to a few serious contenders.