By Gromer Jeffers Jr.
Riding a winning streak in Republican primaries across the country, Donald Trump is in Dallas on Monday for the first of two May visits to Texas.
The former president is headlining a private fundraiser to help congressional candidates. The program at the Renaissance Dallas Hotel is dubbed “Countdown to the Majority” by the party’s House campaign arm.
As of Sunday there were no public events in Dallas on his schedule. On May 14, Trump will stage a public rally in Austin, one of the bluest areas in Texas.
While Trump likes Texas and has enjoyed significant support in Texas, his visits here have multiple purposes.
Always mindful of his brand, Trump wants to make sure that his strong record of backing winning candidates continues in Texas. In the March primaries the 33 candidates he backed in state and local races either won or advanced to runoffs, though many of those candidates, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, were heavily favored to win.
In the May 24 runoffs, Trump-backed Republicans include Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is fighting for his party’s nomination against Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush.
Paxton is seeking a third term as attorney general as he fights a 2015 indictment for securities fraud and is the focus of an FBI investigation of public corruption allegations from within his office.
In previous generations those legal problems would have made a reelection campaign untenable. But in Republican politics this is the era of Trump, and many GOP voters are uninterested or skeptical when their leaders are accused of wrongdoing.
Paxton has the added bonus of Trump’s support. And he seemingly earned it by his unabashed loyalty to the former president, which included filing an ill-fated lawsuit asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in several battleground states. The Texas Bar Association plans to sue Paxton for filing that lawsuit.
Bush made a play for Trump’s endorsement, but it went to Paxton. Expect Trump to promote Paxton during his Texas visit, since an upset by Bush would chip at the former president’s winning record in picking candidates.
Trump doesn’t have a perfect endorsement record in Texas. Last year he endorsed Republican Susan Wright to replace her late husband, Ron Wright in Congress. Jake Ellzey, at the time a freshman state legislator, beat Wright and Trump to win the congressional seat.
Since then Trump has rebounded. He’s currently on a 55-0 primary winning streak that included recent victories in Indiana and Ohio.
Along with Paxton, Trump is active in some North Texas races, including the Tarrant County runoff for district attorney, where he endorsed former criminal court Judge Phil Sorrells over former state Rep. Matt Krause, who’s backed by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. Trump is also backing former McKinney council member Frederick Frazier over Republican Paul Chabot in a Collin County Texas House race.
Trump’s interest in Texas politics raises the question of his own political ambition. Is he happy with being the leading voice in the Republican Party, but not sitting in the White House? Will he make another run for president in 2024?
If he does run for president, he’ll need Texas, a state that has pumped money in his campaign funds like no other.
Trump’s last visit to Dallas included appearances at a First Baptist Dallas service the Sunday before Christmas, and at American Airlines Center that afternoon. He hinted at a 2024 comeback bid, declaring that with so many “dark clouds” hanging over the United States “our country needs a savior right now.”
“Texas is still important to President Trump,” said Plano businessman Wayne Richard, a longtime Trump supporter. “He’s keeping his face in front of Texans for strategic reasons.”
Mayor wants second NFL team in Dallas
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson suggests that there should be another NFL team in Dallas.
“We are about to pass the Chicago metro and become the #3 metro in the US, which would make us the largest US metro WITHOUT 2 teams,” Johnson said in a tweet replying to a NFL on CBS tweet asking which city deserves a new NFL team. “Football is king here. Dallas needs an expansion team and we would be able to sustain 2 @NFL teams better than LA or NY.”
I like it. Johnson points out that the Dallas metro area will soon surpass the Chicagoland area in population, making it the largest in the nation without at least two NFL teams. Good luck getting Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to agree.
Johnson knows an AFC team would help provide needed vitality to an area in Dallas, perhaps Fair Park/South Dallas.
The booming population here should have Dallas leaders thinking outside the box about landing new pro sports franchises.
In 2007 Dallas mayoral candidate Sam Coats, the former interim president and CEO of VisitDallas, told me that Dallas should be pushing for a National League baseball team. That also was a solid idea.
Imagine a cross-county baseball series between the Texas Rangers and a rival in Dallas.