Texas Voters Could Send More Women To Congress In 2018

Primary Election Night saw two Latina congressional wins, high Democratic turnout, and an attack ad from Senator Ted Cruz.

By Texas StandardMarch 7, 2018 3:04 pm

In the entire 38-member Texas delegation to Congress, there are currently just three women. But as a result of Tuesday’s night primary election, Texans will have the opportunity to send 20 more women to Washington. While that doesn’t necessarily mean most of those candidates will be moving forward, the problem in Texas hasn’t been that women aren’t winning – it’s that they haven’t been running. But that’s changing.

Two Latina women claimed victory in open congressional races on Tuesday. El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar and State Senator Sylvia Garcia of Houston are predicted to win those seats in November. With this many women in the running to be in Washington, the potential marks a change in dynamic.

“Last night was a ladies night and you don’t know how much that warmed my heart,” says Victoria De Francesco Soto, a professor at the University of Texas Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. “When women run, we win. We just don’t tend to run as much.”

While the face of the Texas delegation might change, De Francesco Soto says the overarching Republican dynamic is likely to stay the same.

“Even though [Republican women] tend to be a tad bit more centrist than their male colleagues, they still hold very firm to those Republican platform ideas,” she says. “We’re still going to see a more Republican, conservative, ideological mindset.”

Another takeaway from the primary was a leap in Democratic voter turnout, though Republican voters still outnumber Democratic voters.

“It’s a long game,” she says. “We saw Hillary Clinton in 2016 lose by single digits. We saw more Democrats turn out. Beto [O’Rourke], I think he can come within single digits of Ted Cruz. My money is on that.”

On Tuesday night, Ted Cruz ran an attack ad against his Democratic opponent, Rep. Beto O’Rourke of El Paso.

The song in the ad says “If you’re gonna run in Texas, you can’t be a liberal man” while mentioning liberal stances on gun control and open borders.

“This is the weirdest ad I have ever come across,” De Francesco Soto says. “Or at least in the top three.”

The motivation, De Francesco Soto says, is to provoke O’Rourke. “I think he’s just trying to needle him,” she says. “He’s trying to get under his skin.”

Written by Elizabeth Ucles.