Mega-GOP and conservative cause donor Kathaleen Wall announced her congressional candidacy for the open 22nd District yesterday. In the last cycle she ran in the open 2nd District and lost to now-Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Houston) by just 155 votes as she failed to qualify for the run-off that the latter man eventually won. We can expect both a tight primary and general election in this seat from which four-term Rep. Pete Olson (R-Sugar Land) is retiring.
Also in the GOP race is County Court judge Greg Hill, a former Pearland City Councilman. Expected to join the race is Ft. Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls. For the Democrats, the leading contender is 2018 nominee Sri Preston Kulkarni, who held Mr. Olson to a 51-46% re-election victory last November.
Former one-term US Representative and veteran state legislator Pete Gallego (D) announced yesterday that he will not enter the open 23rd District race for his former seat. Instead, he made public his endorsement of 2018 Democratic nominee Gina Ortiz Jones who lost to retiring incumbent Will Hurd (R-San Antonio) by just 926 votes.
Mr. Gallego was elected to the US House in 2012 but lost his first re-election campaign to Mr. Hurd two years later. He lost again to Hurd in 2016. He then proceeded to drop a 2018 special election for the Texas Senate in a race where he was expected to easily prevail. The Lone Star State’s 23rd CD will again host one of the most hotly contested campaigns in the country. It may well become the Democrats’ top national conversion opportunity.
Naval officer Tony Gonzales, who retired from the service at the end of July, announced that he will run in the open 23rd District Republican primary. He originally said he would challenge Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) in the heavily Democratic 35th CD.
The Republican field to succeed retiring Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio) is likely to be large, but Mr. Gonzales is beginning with public support from former 23rd District GOP Representatives Henry Bonilla and Quico Canseco, who issued endorsement statements in conjunction with the Gonzales announcement. The Democrats’ 2018 nominee, Gina Ortiz Jones who came within 927 votes of unseating Mr. Hurd, announced weeks ago that she will return for another run in 2020.
The recent spate of Texas US House retirements has caused further speculation that the number of GOP Lone Star State vacancies would soon grow beyond the four members who have already announced their plans. But, two of those rumored to be retirement possibilities, Reps. Michael McCaul (R-Austin) and John Carter (R-Germantown), both said they are already hard at work assembling respective new campaign organizations and are intent on seeking re-election.
Emerson College released their small-sample Texas Democratic poll conducted for the Dallas Morning News (8/1-3; 400 TX Democratic primary voters), which finds former Vice President Joe Biden topping his opponents with 28% support. Ex-Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke is second with 19%, followed by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) at 16 and 14%, respectively. Under Democratic delegate apportionment rules, this poll would suggest that the four top finishers would all qualify to receive a share of the state’s 228 first ballot delegates, the second largest delegation at the Democratic National Convention.
Texas Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Coppell/DFW area) joined the growing group of retiring US House members, especially from Texas. Mr. Marchant yesterday announced that he will not seek a ninth term from his Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex district that is becoming more competitive. The House open seat count grows to 16, four of which come from Texas.
Six Democrats had already announced their candidacies including 2018 nominee Jan McDowell, who held Mr. Marchant to a 51-48% re-election victory, and Kim Olson, the party’s 2018 statewide nominee for Agriculture Commissioner. In an open seat situation, we can expect the candidate field to grow even further. President Trump carried the seat 51-44%, down from Mitt Romney’s 60-38% margin in 2012.
Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Heath/Rockwall), who withdrew his nomination as National Intelligence Director under pressure from the media and key Senators, will seek re-election to the House. Therefore, the 4th District is no longer open in that the incumbent is again running. Despite the short-term negative publicity, Rep. Ratcliffe should have little trouble winning re-nomination and re-election.
Continuing the retirement parade, three-term Texas Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio), who represents the most evenly divided voting district in the country and one that stretches all the way from San Antonio to El Paso, says he will not seek re-election next year. Mr. Hurd, a former CIA officer, says he wants to leave the House “to pursue opportunities outside the halls of Congress to solve problems at the nexus between technology and national security.”
Already in the race is 2018 Democratic nominee Gina Ortiz Jones, a former US Trade Office staff member and Iraq War veteran. She held Mr. Hurd to a 926-vote win last November. We can expect a large candidate field in both party primaries. Since 2006, the seat has flipped four times between the parties and the largest vote percentage this decade was 50.3%. In his three victories, Rep. Hurd did not reach 50%.
Texas freshman Rep. Ron Wright (R-Arlington) disclosed that he has been diagnosed with lung cancer. But, Mr. Wright says he is responding strongly to treatment and will seek re-election. The Congressman is a strong favorite to win again in 2020 after scoring an original 53-45% victory last November. The 6th District has been in Republican hands since former Representative and US Senator Phil Gramm switched parties and won a special congressional election in 1983.
Eight-term Texas Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Midland) has scheduled an announcement for this morning at which he reportedly will inform the public that he has decided not to seek re-election in 2020. If the reports are accurate, Mr. Conaway will create the 15th open seat in this election cycle and the fifth in the past week. Texas’ 11th District is one of the safest Republican seats in the country. At 79% support, it is President Trump’s third best district in the country. Therefore, the successor to Rep. Conaway will be determined in a hard-fought Republican nomination cycle.
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