Demographic changes and suburban realignment are putting districts across Texas in play – and some of their Republican occupants into retirement
For Texas Republicans, it’s the Summer of Leave.
With Reps. Pete Olson (TX-22), Mike Conaway (TX-11), Will Hurd (TX-23) and Kenny Marchant (TX-24) all calling it quits – and rumors swirling around more of their colleagues – “Texodus” has already taken its toll.
In January, the DCCC announced it was going on offense in six targeted districts across Texas. Soon after, reports began to surface that Republicans in Washington were “freaking out” and “increasingly worried that some of the targeted incumbents are not taking these re-election races seriously or may end up retiring.” One Republican strategist said Republicans were “concerned, worried, fearful” that Texas Republicans would not be able to hold onto districts with rapidly growing and diverse populations.
Now, after a slew of retirements, half of Democrats’ six offensive targets in Texas are open seats and rated “toss-up” or better. Across the Lone Star State, Democrats are going on offense.
Here’s what’s making Texas Republicans hang up their spurs:
“Changing demographics and a suburban revolt against President Donald Trump have turned Texas from a conservative bedrock to a major political battleground, especially for House seats. Formerly safe congressional Republicans are facing competitive races for the first time in their careers — a potential harbinger of Republicans’ future in the state if they don’t adapt quickly.”
“Aware of the potential gains in Texas, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee opened an office in Austin in April and put six Republicans in the state on its 2020 target list. The DCCC has placed 10 staffers on the ground in Texas.
“The campaign arm is treating Texas much the way it did California in 2018 — ripe for pickups. Democrats see the increasing diversity in the state, and frustrations with Trump in the suburbs over health care and immigration, as catalysts of a changing political landscape that could play in their favor.”
“No one reason explains it all. But looming large is the fact that Texas’ demographics continue to shift, particularly in the suburbs; that the GOP faces long odds to win back the House; and that President Donald Trump’s reelection bid, for good or ill, is going to set the tone in 2020.”
“The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, for instance, has already launched an on-the-ground effort in the state, vowing to subject McCaul and other potentially vulnerable Republicans to a “long and expensive 15 months of public vetting.”
“But Democrats don’t just want to keep their House majority — they are looking at expanding it in more than 30 districts across the US. They’re playing aggressively in Texas after flipping two House seats there in 2018, and with a rash of Republican retirements — including the only black House Republican who narrowly hung on to his seat in 2018, Rep. Will Hurd — Democrats may finally have an opportunity to realize their dream of a blue Texas, or at least a bluer one.”
“Democrats’ 2020 offensive map is their unfinished business from 2018. One lesson Democrats learned during the midterms is there were a number of districts not on their radar in 2018 that would have been easy to flip with a little more investment.”
And it is these shifting demographics that have long offered hope for Democrats that they might soon overturn Republican hegemony in the state. The Republicans have dominated for the last 30 years but their grip on this emblematic state may be about shift.
“It is not news that Texas’ rural parts are firmly Republican while the urban cores of five of its six biggest cities are Democratic. But Democrats are making inroads in cosmopolitan suburban areas where Trump is unpalatable to those who would normally lean Republican.”
“Population growth in major metropolitan areas of Texas has made around a half dozen formerly-safe Republican congressional seats vulnerable in 2020. GOP retirements in three districts where the 2018 margin of victory was less than 5 percentage points have further sharpened Democrats’ focus on the state. Democrats in 2018 also flipped two congressional districts, 12 state House races and two state Senate seats.”