All midterm-season long, Ross Ramsey, columnist and co-founder of the Texas Tribune, has been compiling a list of the races to watch here in Texas.
Overall, there are 14 statewide offices, 36 congressional seats, seven of 15 seats on the State Board of Education, 15 of the 31 seats in the Texas Senate and 150 seats in the Texas House, on the line Tuesday. And that doesn’t even include local races and down-ballot referenda. He says the list, of course, isn’t definitive, but there’s a handful of races to which voters should pay particularly close attention.
“The hottest races … are in Dallas County,” Ramsey says. “Dallas County is a blue county now; it used to be a red county, and yet there are still a bunch of Republicans holding state legislative and congressional offices there who are in trouble this time. And I think to the extent Texas has a blue wave, Dallas County’s the first place to look.”
The Senate race between incumbent Republican Ted Cruz and Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke is perhaps the one watched most closely by those in and out of Texas. Ramsey says that’s partly because the race is actually competitive.
“Voting is high this year because people like a fight; they like to go to a real contest, and the U.S. Senate race – kind of unexpectedly given Texas’ recent record – is a big race,” Ramsey says.
While O’Rourke has gotten a lot of media attention as someone who could possibly help flip Texas to a more Democratic-leaning state, polls show that Cruz is ahead. Ramsey says the national media are fascinated with O’Rourke’s campaign in part because he has the potential to disrupt Republican’s stronghold in Texas; a win for O’Rourke would be like beating the New England Patriots: “They’ve just been in control for so long and they’re so strong,” Ramsey says. But he also says that O’Rourke’s campaign is much like Cruz’s campaign was in 2012.
“He’s running against a popular incumbent, it’s kind of a grassroots campaign, it’s got a lot of people talking about it. This is how Ted Cruz overtook David Dewhurst six years ago, and it’s an unexpected thing,” Ramsey says.
Ramsey says he’s also monitoring these congressional races: Pete Sessions vs. Colin Allred in Dallas, John Culberson vs. Lizzie Fletcher in Houston and John Carter vs. M.J. Hegar, north of Austin.
Ramsey says in state races, there are some Republican Senate seats that are in jeopardy, and about five to seven seats that Democrats will likely pick up in the Texas House of Representatives.
Written by Caroline Covington.