As Temperatures Cool This Fall, Texas Political Battles Will Heat Up

“The question is: Can Democrats go all the way, and win a statewide race with Donald Trump at the top of the ticket?”

By Jill AmentAugust 28, 2019 7:03 am, ,

As summer turns to fall next month, a meaningful shift in politics will also take place. At least that’s what Gromer Jeffers expects. The Dallas Morning News political writer says Texas will play a more prominent role in national politics as the 2020 election nears. 

Among the changes will be the winnowing of the Democratic presidential field. A few candidates have dropped out already, while others have established themselves as leaders in the field. And the future of two Texas candidates is unclear. Jeffers says one, Beto O’Rourke – who ran strong in his 2018 Senate race, and was an early standout in the presidential race – is now struggling. 

“He sort of took a dive off the cliff,” Jeffers says. “The same with [former San Antonio Mayor] Julián Castro. He never seemed to gain any traction.”

O’Rourke and Castro have each qualified for the September debate in Houston, which gives them another chance to be seen by a national audience. But Jeffers says it will be tough for the two to improve their standing.

“Certainly, right now, it’s all about Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders,” Jeffers says. 

The question for both national political parties is whether Texas will be a battleground state in the presidential contest. President Donald Trump won the state in 2016, but by a smaller margin than GOP candidates typically have. 

Jeffers says O’Rourke’s strength against Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018 is another signal that Texas might see less GOP victories in 2020. 

“The question is: Can Democrats go all the way and win a statewide race with Donald Trump at the top of the ticket?” Jeffers says.

The 2020 Texas Senate race will be another national indicator, Jeffers says. In that race, Sen. John Cornyn faces seven Democratic challengers. [Ballotpedia shows nine candidates running in the Democratic primary.]

“[Cornyn] has never been tested,” Jeffers says. “Now that race could be dictated by the top of the ticket.”

Democrats are also making a strong bid for the Texas House of Representatives, where they need just nine seats to take the majority. Jeffers says Democrats are targeting about 15 seats currently held by GOP members. In addition, Democrats must defend the 12 new seats they won in 2018.


Written by Shelly Brisbin.