By Jim Ellis
Sept. 27, 2019 — Though the 2020 election is more than a year away, we can already see that the state of Texas is going to be the key to determining whether the Republicans will have a chance to re-claim the House majority next year, or if Democrats will actually expand their conference size. The GOP needs to convert 18 seats to again become the majority party and holding their margins in Texas is a prerequisite if they are to make a comeback in 2020.
Counting primary challenges, we are looking at political action in 13 of the state’s 36 congressional districts. Five are open seats, all Republican held, and three are highly competitive. Two of those retiring, Reps. Mike Conaway (R-Midland) and Bill Flores (R-Bryan/Waco), leave seats that will easily remain in GOP hands.
The most vulnerable open Republicans district is the 23rd CD, which begins in the northwestern part of San Antonio and stretches all the way to El Paso. The district goes back and forth between the two parties, and at no time during this decade has the winning candidate broken 50.5 percent. Democratic nominee in 2018, Gina Ortiz Jones, came within 926 votes of unseating Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio), and she now has a strong chance of becoming a consensus candidate for the open seat now that Hurd is retiring.
Republicans have no clear heir apparent to replace the retiring congressman, but it is likely that both eventual party nominees will start out with 48 percent of the vote. Expect another close contest here, but this is clearly the Democrats’ best Texas opportunity to convert another GOP seat.