By Jim Ellis
July 20, 2020 — One of the more important states that will determine the House November outcome is the Lone Star State of Texas. Now with 14 of their 15 congressional runoff elections decided, we have almost a full card of nominations set in the state’s 36 districts. Within Texas, 14 of the districts either feature a heightened level of competition or were decided on Tuesday after a hotly contested nomination cycle. The top Texas campaigns are cataloged below:
• Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Houston) vs. Sima Ladjevardian (D)
2018 Result: Crenshaw, 53-45%
Ladjevardian is a former advisor to ex-Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s presidential campaign. She won the Democratic nomination when her primary opponent chose to forfeit her position in the run-off election. Rep. Crenshaw is the clear favorite for November.
• Rep. Van Taylor (R-Plano) vs. Lulu Seikaly (D)
2018 Result: Taylor, 54-44%
Seikaly won the Democratic runoff Tuesday with 61 percent of the vote. Rep. Taylor is the clear favorite for re-election and should improve upon his 2018 percentage.
• Open Republican Nomination vs. Russell Foster (D)
2018 Result: Rep. John Ratcliffe (R), 76-23%
With Rep. Ratcliffe resigning to become Director of US Intelligence, Republican precinct committee members will meet in convention on Aug. 8 to choose a replacement nominee for the general election. At least 15 candidates are competing. The convention winner becomes a prohibitive favorite in the general election.
• Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-Houston) vs. Wesley Hunt (R)
2018 Result: Fletcher, 52.5–45.7%
Rep. Fletcher unseated veteran Rep. John Culberson (R) in 2018. Now she faces mortgage company executive and Iraq War veteran Wesley Hunt in what has traditionally been a Republican seat. Fletcher is the first Democrat to represent the 7th since 1966. This is a competitive race and Republicans eye the Hunt challenge as one of their better conversion opportunities in the country.
• Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Austin) vs. Mike Siegel (D)
2018 Result: McCaul, 51-47%
The 2020 race features a re-match from two years ago. Attorney and civil rights activist Siegel defeated a competitive Democrat in Tuesday’s runoff with 54 percent of the vote. Rep. McCaul is favored and expected to increase his victory percentage, but the contest will again be spirited.
• Austin Pfluger (R) vs. Jon Mark Hogg (D)
2018 Result: Rep. Mike Conaway (R), 80-18%
Rep. Conaway’s retirement left a crowded Republican primary field that retired Air Force officer and former National Security Council official Austin Pfluger impressively won outright in March. He now faces former San Angelo City Councilman Hogg in a race that will easily go Mr. Pfluger’s way.
• Ronny Jackson (R) vs. Gus Trujillo (D)
2018 Result: Rep. Mac Thornberry (R), 81-17%
Retired Navy admiral and ex-White House physician Ronny Jackson scored a 56-44 percent victory in Tuesday’s Republican runoff. In what is the strongest Trump district in the United States, Jackson will become the next congressman. He now faces local businessman Gus Trujillo, who easily won the Democratic runoff, but the general election is really a pro forma contest.
• Ex-Rep. Pete Sessions (R) vs. Rick Kennedy (D)
2018 Result: Rep. Bill Flores (R), 57-41%
Former Dallas congressman Pete Sessions scored a 53.5–46.5 percent Republican runoff victory on Tuesday and now becomes the solid favorite to win in November. Kennedy, a local Austin area software developer, is again the Democratic nominee. He will run a campaign here, but the strong Republican voting history here suggests that Sessions will return to Congress next year.
• Rep. Chip Roy (R-Austin) vs. Wendy Davis (D)
2018 Result: Roy, 50-48%
In another of the Texas Republican districts moving to the political center, freshman Rep. Roy looks to defend his seat against 2014 gubernatorial nominee Davis, who is a former Ft. Worth area state senator. This will be an expensive race with an unclear outcome, though the district still leans to the GOP.
• Sheriff Troy Nehls (R) vs. Sri Preston Kulkarni (D)
2018 Result: Rep. Pete Olson (R), 51-46%
Now with nearly one million residents, the 22nd is the most over-populated congressional district in a state that is expected to gain three seats in reapportionment. With Rep. Olson retiring, Ft. Bend County Sheriff Nehls won a landslide runoff victory on Tuesday against an opponent who spent over $8 million on her campaign. Kulkarni is the 2018 Democratic nominee who held Rep. Olson to a five-point win. The district still leans Republican, but not to the past degree. This will be a hotly contested campaign and is a Democratic conversion opportunity.
• Republicans in Re-count vs. Gina Ortiz Jones (D)
2018 Result: Rep. Will Hurd (R), 49.2–48.7%
This expansive district that stretches from San Antonio all the way to El Paso is the Democrats’ best Texas conversion target. Iraq War veteran and ex-US Trade official Gina Ortiz Jones returns as the Democratic nominee after coming within 926 votes of unseating retiring Rep. Hurd in 2018.
Republicans likely won’t have a clear nominee for an undetermined amount of time. Retired Navy non-commissioned officer Tony Gonzales has declared victory, but he leads homebuilder Raul Reyes by just seven votes from Tuesday’s runoff. A re-count is inevitable, and it is unclear how many absentee ballots remain uncounted. At this point in the general election cycle, Jones is the favorite to win in November.
• Ex-Mayor Beth Van Duyne (R) vs. Ex-school board member Candace Valenzuela (D)
2018 Result: Rep. Kenny Marchant (R), 51-47%
Former Carrollton School Board member Valenzuela scored a 60-40 percent win over retired Air Force colonel Kim Olson in what was originally predicted to be a reversal of fortunes. Olson was the 2018 statewide Democratic nominee for agriculture commissioner and lost a close race. Valenzuela, however, is obviously the preferred local candidate. She now faces former Irving mayor Van Duyne who won the Republican nomination outright in March. This will be another Dallas-area competitive race, but the district still tilts toward the Republicans. Both women are rated as strong campaigners.
• Rep. John Carter (R) vs. Donna Imam (D)
2018 Result: Carter, 51-48%
Rep. Carter had a highly competitive 2018 challenge from retired Army helicopter pilot M.J. Hegar, who is now the Democratic nominee for US Senate. Taking her place in District 31 is computer engineer Imam, who scored a 57-43 percent runoff victory on Tuesday. It appears that Judge Carter’s closest race is behind him, and he is rated as the clear favorite for this November.
• Rep. Colin Allred (D) vs. Genevieve Collins (R)
2018 Result: Allred, 52-46%
Rep. Allred unseated then-Rep. Pete Sessions two years ago in this Dallas-area district and is poised to win re-election. Businesswoman Collins will run a professional campaign, but this seat is clearly leaning the Democrats’ way. Rep. Allred remains the definitive choice for November.