WHERE THINGS STAND IN TEXAS TODAY

If not for Donald Trump’s alienation of suburban voters, I’m not sure we’d even be talking about Texas as a battleground state today.

The first sign of this was in 2016, when Hillary Clinton came within 9 points of Donald Trump in a state that Republicans traditionally won by 20 points, thanks to that bubbling suburban revulsion over Trump.

And then the worst possible thing for Texas Republicans happened: Donald Trump became President.

Fast-forward to 2018 where Beto O’Rourke came within inches of unseating Ted Cruz in a Senate race and Democrats flipped 2 Congressional seats, 12 Texas State House seats, and 2 Texas State Senate seats.  

And that remarkable progress has paved the way for 2020. Here are the 8 reasons why this November’s election is so important for Texas and America.

 

REASON #1 – FLIPPING THE TEXAS STATE HOUSE

What?

This is listed first, before winning Texas’ Electoral Votes or the Texas Senate seat? 

Yes. 

Texas likely won’t be the ‘tipping point’ for control of the White House or the Senate, just delicious gravy on the side if we win them. But without the Democrats getting a foothold in state government by taking back the Texas State House, Texas will be doomed to another decade of racially-motivated Republican gerrymandering.

If anyone is interested in helping Texas turn blue short-or-long term, flipping the Texas State House must be their top priority.

Texas has *150* State House seats, and all *150* are up for election this year. Democrats need a net gain of *9* seats in order to take control of the chamber. The are *22* seats considered to be ‘flippable’ this year, mostly in-and-around metro/suburban areas. Here are the Districts ranked in order of ‘flippability’ by experts: 134, 108, 112, 138, 66, 67, 26, 64, 121, 96, 54, 97, 14, 92, 93, 28, 94, 126, 32, 29, 129, and 133.

Curious as to where these Districts are located? Click here for a handy map.

If Democrats are successful, they will have a seat at the table when it comes to the 2021 redistricting of Texas’ *36* Congressional Districts (or more if Texas gets additional seats) and redistricting of Texas’ State Legislative seats which will set the table for Texas politics for the next decade.

 

REASON #2 – DEFEATING JOHN CORNYN

This Texas Senate seat is unlikely to be the one that makes or breaks a Democratic Senate Majority. But we also have to look past the concept of a bare Majority.

If Democrats take the Senate, they will need as much of a buffer as possible to pass their agenda. I’d much rather see Democrats with 54 or 55 seats than 50 or 51 seats.

As a member of the Senate Republican Leadership, John Cornyn has marched in lockstep with every awful Mitch McConnell decision and every cowardly enablement of Donald Trump.

Enter MJ Hegar. She came thisclose to flipping a very difficult House seat in 2018, and now she’s running to unseat John Cornyn. The top of the ticket is currently tied between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. And if that holds, MJ has a real shot at flipping this seat.

 

REASON #3 – FLIPPING 38 ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTES

Yes, if Joe Biden wins Texas, the game is over for Trump. But if that happens, Joe Biden will likely be well over the 270 Electoral Vote threshold to begin with.

But think more broadly for a moment.

Just imagine how psychologically crippling it would be for the Republican Party if the Democrats flipped Texas and took 38 Electoral College votes from their biggest ‘safe’ state? 

They would be lost and demoralized, and we could easily capitalize on their dysfunction in subsequent elections.

 

REASON #4 – TAKING BACK THE TEXAS COURTS

Republicans have long dominated the Texas Judicial system, and 2020 is our chance to turn things around. But a reminder: Sometimes politics is a marathon, not a sprint!

The Texas Supreme Court has 9 seats. All 9 current Justices are Republicans. Democrats have the chance to flip *4* seats that are up for election. Flipping them all won’t give us a majority, but it would bring us close. And then our next election opportunity could bring us the majority.

The Democratic candidates vying for Justice seats this year are: Amy Clark Meachum, Kathy Cheng, Staci Williams, Gisela Triana

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has 9 seats. All 9 are currently held by Republicans. Democrats have the chance to flip *3* seats that are up for election. Similarly here, 3 wins won’t give us a majority, but it will bring us out of the wilderness.

The Democratic candidates are: Elizabeth Frizell, Tina Yoo Clinton, Brandon Birmingham

The Texas Court of Appeals is a set of 14 appellate courts across 14 districts. 24 seats are up for election in 2020. All 24 seats are held by Republicans. Democrats are challenging them in 13 of the 24 races.

Turning Texas blue isn’t just about its politicians. It’s about its judges, too.

 

REASON #5 – MAKING INROADS INTO THE TEXAS STATE SENATE

There are 31 Texas State Senate seats, but only *16* of the 31 seats are up for election in 2020. Democrats need to flip *5* to take the chamber.

Now 5 may not sound like a difficult number, but in this case it is.

Unfortunately there is only one seat that represents an easier opportunity (District 19), and two that are possible in wave conditions (Districts 11 and 12). 

Beyond that, it’s a very tough map for Democrats. So while we will be unlikely to flip all 5 seats, we can at least cut the GOP’s margin and give ourselves the opportunity to flip the rest of the seats necessary for total control in 2022.

 

REASON #6 – CONTROL OF THE TEXAS BOARD OF EDUCATION

There are 15 seats on the Texas State Board of Education. 5 of those seats are held by Democrats and 10 are held by Republicans. 

Of those 15 seats, only *8* are up in November. However the good news is that only 1 Democratic incumbent is up for election. The other 7 races are Republican-held. If Democrats have a net gain of just *3* seats they will take control of the Board.

District 1 – Georgina Perez (Incumbent)

District 5 – Rebecca Bell-Metereau

District 6 – Michelle Palmer

District 8 – No Democratic nominee

District 9 – Brenda Davis

District 10 – Marsha Burnett-Webster

District 14 – Greg Alvord

District 15 – John Betancourt

A map of the districts can be found here.

 

REASON #7 – FLIPPING MORE CONGRESSIONAL SEATS

If Democrats were in the House Minority this would have vaulted to the top of the list. Luckily we have a durable Majority already. But more work needs to be done.

There are so many Texas Congressional seats that we have the opportunity to add to our Democratic House Majority this year. Here are the 10 districts determined to be most vulnerable for Republicans, in the order of ‘flippability’ per experts…and their Democratic candidates.

Texas 23rd Congressional DistrictGina Ortiz Jones

Texas 21st Congressional DistrictWendy Davis

Texas 22nd Congressional DistrictSri Preston Kulkarni

Texas 24th Congressional DistrictCandace Valenzuela

Texas 3rd Congressional DistrictLulu Seikaly

Texas 10th Congressional DistrictMike Siegel

Texas 2nd Congressional DistrictSima Ladjevardian

Texas 6th Congressional DistrictStephen Daniel

Texas 25th Congressional DistrictJulie Oliver

Texas 31st Congressional DistrictDonna Imam

 

REASON #8 – ADDING A DEMOCRAT TO THE TEXAS RAILROAD COMMISSION

The oddly named Texas Railroad Commission is actually tasked with overseeing the oil/gas industry, which means that it has environmental implications.

There are 3 seats on the board, and only 1 of those seats is up for election. All 3 seats are currently held by Republicans so a win by candidate Chrysta Castaneda would add a Democratic voice to the proceedings.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read about why Texas is so important this year.

Keep in mind that these are not the only reasons to Focus on Texas in 2020. There are a number of other local elections worth your time and attention as well.

If you’d like to help Focus on Texas, please sign up HERE for the DemCast “Focus14” Texas effort.

And for more analysis, follow me at @trumpstaxes on Twitter.


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