The plan comes after Democrats in Texas won a handful of down-ballot races in 2018, and competed well in a tight race for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Ted Cruz. And this year, a slew of retirements among Texas Republican members of Congress seems to have given Democrats a reason to believe Texas will be a battleground in 2020.
Rebecca Deen is chair of the political science department at the University of Texas at Arlington. She says the Democrats’ plan includes setting up many field offices around the state, and targeting a variety of races, including congressional and statehouse seats.
Deen says Democrats have targeted three congressional seats where Republican incumbents are retiring. They’re currently represented by Will Hurd, Kenny Marchant and Pete Olson. In addition, Democrats want to flip the seats held by John Carter, Michael McCaul and Chip Roy, all in the Central Texas area. Roy’s challenger is Wendy Davis, who famously filibustered an abortion bill as a state senator in 2013.
To increase voter turnout, Democrats are working to register new voters and get them out to the polls, In 2018, voters chose Democrats because they were frustrated with President Donald Trump and national Republicans, Deen says.
“They’re very hopeful that the kind of enthusiasm that they saw in 2018 … can be replicated,” she says.
Turning anger into votes could hinge on whom Democratic voters ultimately choose as their presidential candidate, Deen says. Both parties’ down-ballot candidates could also be hurt by the end of straight-ticket voting in Texas.
“What that will mean is, voters will have to be intentional about marking their ballot all the way down to the bottom,” she says. “Which might affect some of the House districts, and perhaps some of the local districts.”
Republicans are fighting back, deputizing more voter registrars around the state. Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen has given a substantial amount of money toward fueling Republican voter turnout in districts Democrats have targeted.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.