In addition to taking over the White House, Republicans also managed to maintain majorities in both the House and the Senate after last year’s election. This result was certainly disappointing for Democrats, but several have already begun campaigning to try and take back both chambers of Congress in the 2018 midterm elections.
Included in the list of states that might see formerly red districts turn blue next year is, surprisingly, Texas.
In an op-ed published on Saturday by The Hill, Mark Jones, a political science fellow at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy and the Joseph D. Jamail Chair in Latin American Studies at Rice University, predicted that 2018 is going to be a big year for Democrats in the Lone Star State.
Jones wrote about the Texas Democratic Primary in non-presidential years:
‘Contested Democratic congressional primaries tend to be scarcer than grass around a trough, with a plethora of safe Democratic incumbents and a paucity of seats in play.’
However, he expects next year to be different:
‘In 2018 that is changing, as a talented group of high-quality Democratic candidates are coming out of the woodwork to run for Congress across the Lone Star State. And, if Democrats are to have any hope of taking back control of the U.S. House next year, they will have to flip at least a couple of Texas seats presently held by Republicans.’
There are two Republican-led congressional districts that Democrats are looking to win over in 2018: the 7th District, which covers the Houston area, and the 32nd District, which includes the city of Dallas. Last year, in both of these districts, Hillary Clinton received more votes than President Trump.
The state’s 23rd District (which spans from El Paso to San Antonio) was previously the only district that was considered competitive for Democrats since 2012. It has been represented by a Republican, Will Hurd since 2015.
Jones has predicted that John Culberson, who represents the 7th District, is going to face his most competitive general election ever with at least four “very credible candidates” running against him: Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, Laura Moser, Alex Triantaphyllis, and James Westin.
The 32nd District’s Pete Sessions is also expected to face his toughest general election race in more than 20 years. Of the many Democrats running for his seat, there are two who are considered to be top-tier candidates: Collin Allred, a former NFL linebacker, Obama administration official, and current civil rights attorney, and Ed Meier, another former Obama administration official and Hillary Clinton campaign operative.
While Democratic candidates will still have to work extremely hard to win over Texas voters, they’re already in a better place financially than they were during last year’s election. Jones pointed out that, through September 30, Democratic candidates running in 24 GOP held districts had already raised $4.5 million dollars. This is more than 10 times the $434,000 that Democrats managed to raise in the same 24 districts during the entire 2016 cycle.
Of that $4.5 million, candidates in the 7th district raised $1.9 million, and candidates in the 32nd district raised $1.0 million.