DemDaily: Texas Takeaways

March 7, 2018

All eyes were on Texas yesterday, which held the first-in-the-nation mid-term primary under President Trump, with the US Senate, Governor, statewide offices and all thirty-six US House races up for election.

Texas was dominated by Democratic politics for over 100 years until the late 1990's, when Governor George Bush (R) was re-elected and Republicans swept all statewide offices in 1998. The state's Republican control became complete in 2002 when the GOP won the state House for the first time since Reconstruction.

The "red" southern state delivered a 52.6% to 43.4% victory for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, and a coveted 38 electoral votes - the second largest in the nation.

Currently Republicans hold 25 seats to Democrats'11 (270toWinMap. Click for details)

Under a turbulent White House, and with Democrats contests in all 36 congressional districts for the first time in 25 years, Dems looked to Tuesday's primary as an opportunity to start moving Texas back to its blue roots.

The result was mixed, but still leaves the door open for Democratic gains that could help flip the US House to Democratic control.

Voter Turnout
Voter turnout reached the highest in over a decade, with Democrats turning out for early voting in larger numbers, giving hope to a shifting landscape.

Although overall numbers for Dems rose significantly over 2010 and more than twice that of the 2014 mid-term elections, the GOP ultimately turned out over half-a-million more primary voters than Democrats.

Congressman Beto O'Rourke won the Democratic primary with 62% to become the party's nominee against incumbent Senator Ted Cruz (R) in November.

With Trump's statewide disapproval rating at 46%, and Cruz' own disapproval rating at 41%, Democrats are hoping the surge of blue enthusiasm on the ground will make for a competitive general election.

Of the 36 congressional districts, Republicans hold 25 and Democrats 11 seats.

21 of the GOP seats are considered "safe," including five seats being vacated by Ted Poe (TX 2), Sam Johnson (TX 3), Jeb Hensarling (TX 5), Joe Barton (TX 6), Blake Farenthold (TX 27).  A sixth vacancy in Texas' 21st district, where Lamar Smith (R) is retiring, is considered vulnerable, but at present likely to stay in Republican hands.

All 11 Democratic seats are considered safe or ripe for re-election, including Texas 29, where Gene Green is retiring, and the Texas 16 seat being vacated by Beto O'Rourke.

Races to Watch

That leaves three top competitive races, where Clinton won in 2016, and where Democrats will be facing run-offs on May 22nd to vie for the right to challenge three highly vulnerable Republican incumbents.

In TX-07, trial attorney Lizzie Pannill Fletcher will face activist Laura Moser for the shot to challenge incumbent Republican John Culberson, and in TX-23 former Air Force intelligence officer Gina Ortiz Jones and teacher Rick Trevino go to a run-off to face Republican Will Hurd.

In TX-32 former NFL player and attorney Colin Allred will face former Agriculture Department appointee Lillian Salerno to challenge Republican Congressman Pete Sessions.

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Kimberly Scott

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Sources:  Politico, Washington Post, Vox, ABC, 270toWin

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