By Jack Fink

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The deadline for candidates running for the Texas primary on March 1 was 6:00 p.m. Monday, Dec. 13, and key political races are shaping up for 2022.

The marquis race is for Texas Governor.

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But before Republican two-term incumbent Greg Abbott hopes he can take-on Democrat Beto O’Rourke, he’ll have to beat two major conservative challengers: former State Senator Don Huffines of Dallas and former Texas Republican Party Chair Allen West.

Others in the Republican primary include Paul Belew, Danny Harrison, and Kandy Kaye Horn.

The Governor has former President Donald Trump’s endorsement.

O’Rourke faces lesser-known challengers in the Democratic primary including Inocencio Barrientez, Michael Cooper, Joy Diaz, Jack Daniel Foster Jr., Deirdre Gilbert, and Star Locke.

SMU Political Science Professor Matthew Wilson says the Governor and O’Rourke are favored to win their primaries, but that it’s the Governor’s to lose in November. “If you’re running for statewide office in a Republican-leaning state against an incumbent with a huge war chest, in what will likely be a Republican-leaning year, that’s just a very steep hill to climb.”

In the Lt. Governor’s race, Democrat Matthew Dowd dropped out last week, leaving Mike Collier who ran four years ago and State Representative Michelle Beckley of Carrollton who have previously filed for office.

On Monday, State Democratic Party Vice Chair Dr. Carla Brailey joined the race.

Two-term Republican incumbent Dan Patrick faces a variety of primary challengers including Trayce Bradford, Daniel Miller, and Aaron Sorrells.

In another closely watched race, Republican two-term incumbent Ken Paxton also has the backing of the former President.

But he’s still attracted three primary challengers: Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, and E. Texas conservative Congressman Louie Gohmert — all of whom are warning Paxton could lose in the general election against a Democrat.

That’s because Paxton is reportedly being investigated by the FBI after his top lieutenants made bribery and other allegations against him.

He also still faces a trial on state felony fraud charges.

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Four Democrats are vying for the nomination to run for A-G: former Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski, Civil Rights Attorney Lee Merritt, former ACLU Staff Attorney Rochelle Garza, and Mike Fields.

Professor Wilson said if Paxton were to be indicted on federal charges, he would likely accuse the Biden Justice Department of targeting him. “He’ll say he’s been singled-out and victimized because of his strong support for President Trump, that’s the politically-winning tack to take and I’m sure that’s the line that we would hear from Paxton. Whether voters outside the Republican primary are receptive to that appeal is another question. If people are willing to say well, look, I’m a Republican, but on this one office, I want to send a signal about clean government, good government, honesty, he’s the one office where there would be some vulnerability.”

In Dallas, 30th District Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson’s retirement is attracting multiple Democrats to succeed her.

They include State Representative Jasmine Crockett, who Johnson has endorsed, and Jane Hope Hamilton, who helped run President Joe Biden’s campaign in Texas.

She is being backed by North Texas Congressman Marc Veasey, Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, former Dallas Mayor and U.S. Ambassador Ron Kirk, and former State Senator Wendy Davis of Fort Worth.

Other Democratic candidates are Arthur Dixon, former Dallas City Council Member Vonciel Hill, Keisha Lankford, former State Representative and Dallas City Council Member Barbara Mallory Caraway, Jessica Mason, Abel Mulugheta, and Roy Williams Jr.

Wilson said endorsements only go so far. “It is certainly telling that much of the African-American political establishment in Dallas is coalescing not behind Eddie Bernice Johnson’s choice, but behind another candidate. That will make for some interesting political dynamics.”

Angeigh Rocellerpitts is a Republican running for the district.

Whoever wins will likely keep the seat in the Democrats’ column in November.

There’s also an open seat for Tarrant County Judge after Republican Glenn Whitley’s retirement.

Former Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and former county GOP Chair Tim O’Hare are running in the Republican primary along with Byron Bradford and Robert Buker.

There are two Democrats running for the seat including former Tarrant County Democratic Party Chair Deborah Peoples who ran for Fort Worth Mayor twice and Marvin Sutton.

In Dallas County, Dallas ISD Trustee Edwin Flores is running in the Republican primary for Dallas County Judge against Democratic incumbent Clay Jenkins, who faces a primary challenge from Billy Clark.

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The March 1 primary could be delayed by the federal judges who are considering legal challenges to the Republican-drawn political maps for the Texas House and Senate and for Congressional districts.