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Issued: 2018-03-06

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.

Leftist Democrats launch fierce primary battles against moderate incumbents. Fox News contributor Karl Rove gives his take.

The midterm election season officially kicks off on Tuesday, when Texas voters head to the polls for the nation’s first primary of 2018.

With early voting already suggesting a record turnout for Democrats, and widespread speculation about what effect an endorsement by President Trump will have on Republican candidates, the Texas primaries are being looked at as both a bellwether for the rest of the nation - and a sign the red state could be turning purple more quickly than expected.

“What these primaries really boil down to is one issue: Trump versus anti-Trump,” Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University, told Fox News. “There is relatively little talk about the issues for either party. It’s a race to the margins. Democrats are all against the president, while with Republicans it’s about staying close to Trump, and whether that hurts or helps them.”

While initially skipping some major Republican candidates in the Lone Star state, Trump went all in early last week when, in a series of tweets, supported a number of top-tier Texas Republicans.

"I want to encourage all of my many Texas friends to vote in the primary for Governor Greg Abbott, Senator Ted Cruz, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and Attorney General Ken Paxton. They are helping me to Make America Great Again! Vote early or on March 6th," Trump tweeted.

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush also got Trump’s endorsement, with the president saying the nephew and grandson of two former presidents “backed me when it wasn't the politically correct thing to do, and I back him now.”

Unlike Cruz, Abbott, Patrick and Paxton – incumbents who are expected to easily win the GOP nomination in their campaigns – Bush is facing a tough battle against his predecessor in the land office, Jerry Patterson. A recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll found that when voters were allowed to be undecided, Bush mustered only 36 percent of the vote in his race.

It remains to be seen whether a Trump endorsement will hurt or help Bush. But either way, it puts the politician in a strange situation as he tries to merge the backing of the anti-establishment president with that of his storied political family. The Bush dynasty was built on moderate conservative policy positions, and was strongly against Trump in the 2016 race, where George P.’s father, Jeb, ran against him.

(The Associated Press)

“What Bush would like to do is establish an identity as someone who is new and going to shake up the status quo. This is doubly difficult when you have a famous last name,” Daron Shaw, a political scientist at the University of Texas at Austin and former campaign strategist for George W. Bush, told the Houston Chronicle. “Bush is attempting to reinforce the notion that he is his own man and a politician for the 2020s, not the 1980s.”

A recent poll from UT Austin/Texas Tribune found 83 percent of Texas Republicans supportive of Trump.


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