Category Archives: TEXAS

Texas 2022 Candidate Filing Closes

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 17, 2021 — Texas became the first state to see candidate filing close for the 2022 elections, so the campaign season has officially been launched.

In the Lone Star State, candidates file with their respective state party organizations, or county parties if their race is fully contained within one entity, and not the Secretary of State. Therefore, the filings might not yet be fully recorded and approved. The statewide primary is scheduled for March 1. If no candidate for whatever office does not receive majority support in the first election, a runoff between the top two finishers will occur on May 24.

What we know so far is that Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will face a significant Republican primary challenge from former Florida congressman and ex-Texas Republican Party chairman Allen West and former Dallas state Sen. Don Huffines. The latter man, who was defeated for re-election in 2018, has the ability to self-fund a statewide primary campaign. Former congressman and 2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke will be the Democratic nominee as he faces only minor opposition in the party primary.

Regardless of the level of competition, Gov. Abbott, though his approval ratings are at a low ebb in his seven-year career as the state’s chief executive, is a heavy favorite in both the Republican primary and the 2022 general election.

The main constitutional office of interest is the attorney general’s race. Here, embattled incumbent Ken Paxton (R), who has for years been under a federal SEC indictment that has yet to move forward, and who has been publicly accused of having an ongoing extra-marital affair, faces three strong candidates for re-nomination: State Land Commissioner George P. Bush, US Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tyler), and state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman.

Though Paxton has personal and legal problems, his favorability ratings among Republican primary voters is still surprisingly high. Forcing the two-term attorney general into a runoff election, however, is a clear possibility.

With the state having no Senate race in 2022, the federal focus turns to the new 38-member US House delegation. Texas gained two seats in national reapportionment, thus increasing their delegation size from 36 to 38 seats. The state will wield 40 electoral votes in the next presidential election, second only to California’s reduced 54.

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Post Redistricting:
Competitive Seats, Part II

Nevada redistricting map

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 10, 2021 — Continuing our redistricting report about the 20 multi-congressional district states that have completed the re-drawing process, today, we look at the domains from Montana through West Virginia.


Montana:

The Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission for the first time had a congressional map to draw. The state rose from at-large status to gaining a new district in reapportionment due to strong population growth. Montana is the first multi-district state to ever fall into at-large status, as it did in the 1990 census, and then regain a second district.

Though more Democratic maps were filed for commission consideration, the main Republican offered map was adopted. One of the Democratic commissioners voted for the plan, which allowed the GOP version to prevail. Still, all of the maps created an east and west seat, with the new western seat, labeled District 1, being the more competitive.

At-large Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Glendive) will run in the safely Republican eastern District 2, while former congressman and ex-US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke appears to be the early leader in the western district both in the Republican primary and general election. While relatively competitive, the 1st District will clearly nominate a Republican who will be the general election favorite.


Nebraska:

The unicameral legislature and Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) enacted a new congressional map that should again deliver a 3R-0D delegation. Rep. Don Bacon’s (R-Papillion/Omaha) marginal 2nd District – Joe Biden carried the district by more than 22,000 votes – is strengthened for the incumbent, but it still remains a competitive congressional domain.


Nevada:

The Democratic legislature and Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) enacted a map that is designed to produce a 3D-1R map but, in attempting to maximize the Democratic stake, possibly all three of the party’s intended seats now fall into the potentially competitive realm.

In 2020, Clark County hosted two of the 53 districts nationally where the winning candidate scored less than 52 percent. In 3rd District Rep. Susie Lee’s (D-Las Vegas) case, her victory percentage was less than 49 percent. Fourth District incumbent Steven Horsford (D-Las Vegas) fared only slightly better at 50.7 percent. In order to strengthen these two districts, a large number of Democrats had to be taken from the previously safe seat of 1st District Rep. Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas).

The end result is three Democratic seats in the lower 50s. In a Republican year, and considering the GOP is beginning to score better with Hispanics who comprise more than 31 percent of the Clark County population, all three seats could conceivably host competitive challenge campaigns. Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Carson City), the lone Republican incumbent in the Nevada delegation, gets a safe northern state seat.


North Carolina:

The courts have been playing ping pong with the North Carolina map this week. A three-judge panel first issued a stay order on the Tar Heel State’s Dec. 17 candidate filing deadline pertaining to a redistricting lawsuit before the court. A day later, the full 15-member state Appellate Court overturned the panel’s ruling, and restored the original filing deadline. Just this week, the state Supreme Court quickly reinstated the candidate filing stay and ordered the March 8 primary postponed until May 17.

The North Carolina map is the national Republicans’ best to date. If it survives the legal challenge, the GOP could net as many as three seats in the delegation. It appears that five seats will be open, with Reps. G.K. Butterfield (D-Wilson) and David Price (D-Chapel Hill) retiring, Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) running for Senate, and with two more seats beign created through reapportionment and the map-drawing process.

Under the enacted map, Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro) and Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk) are paired in a new 11th District, which would heavily favor the GOP nominee.


Ohio:

The legislature and Gov. Mike DeWine (R) recently approved a new congressional map that may net the Republicans a one-seat gain, or could conceivably yield the Democrats a similar outcome. Three of the state’s 15 new districts are highly competitive — Ohio lost one seat in reapportionment — with two currently in Democratic hands and one under GOP control.

Reps. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati), Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo), and the open 13th District seat of Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren), now located on the west side of Cleveland, are all tightly constructed partisan districts. In the remaining seats, Republicans hold a significant 10-2 advantage. Retiring Rep. Anthony Gonzalez’s (R-Rocky River) 16th District has effectively been collapsed.


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Texans Planning Moves

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 5, 2021 — The Texas congressional map was unveiled in the state Senate last week, and already many incumbents and challengers are making or announcing political plans based upon what they are seeing … but this congressional plan is a long way from enactment.

In the past few days we have seen Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) concede that he would consider moving to run in the open 34th District, which is due east of his own 15th CD and anchored in the city of Brownsville. Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville) is not seeking re-election to a sixth term, and he reportedly is favorable toward Gonzalez coming into his district.

The 34th remains solidly Democratic under the Senate introduced congressional map, but the 15th, already trending more Republican than in past elections, would actually have favored former President Trump by three percentage points under the proposed boundaries. Thus, Republicans would have a strong chance of winning here in an open seat race.

The 2020 GOP nominee, Monica de la Cruz-Hernandez, who held Rep. Gonzalez to a 50-48 percent re-election victory while spending barely over $400,000, has announced she is running again and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has already endorsed her for the 2022 race.

Gonzalez is not the only one working on his next political move. Wesley Hunt (R), who lost 51-47 percent to Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-Houston) in 2020, said months ago that he would run for the House again, but was mum on exactly where he would land in hopes that one of the new seats would fall into his area. Under this proposed map, the new 38th District does encompass part of the current Fletcher district, and it is highly favorable to an eventual Republican nominee.

For her part, Rep. Fletcher gets a much stronger Democratic district in southern Harris County and now into Ft. Bend County, which is one of the fastest growing regions in the state. Reports also suggest that Hunt has over $1 million in his campaign account at the reporting period ending Sept. 30 despite not previously declaring where he would run. He announced last week that he has chosen District 38 if this new map becomes law.

Late last week, Republican businessman and retired Air Force officer Steve Fowler announced his congressional candidacy in the 28th District, Rep. Henry Cuellar’s (D-Laredo) seat that begins in San Antonio and spans to the Mexican border. Earlier this year, Jessica Cisneros, who held Cuellar to a 52-48 percent Democratic primary win in 2020, announced she is returning for a re-match.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) will also have a decision to make. The new 37th District is wholly contained within Travis County and safely Democratic. He could easily run in this seat, thus leaving his 35th CD that is co-anchored in Austin and San Antonio for a Hispanic Democrat to likely win.

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The Texas Slow Walk

Map of US Congressional districts in Texas

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 27, 2021 — The new Texas congressional map has yet to be released and it may be some time before we see any progress being made toward passing a 38-seat federal plan.

While Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has called the legislature into a special redistricting session, the Democrats’ unified slow-walking strategy may achieve their goal of taking the process away from the Republican legislature and forcing a court to draw an interim map.

The state House of Representatives is the key. While Republicans have an 82-66 majority with two vacancies, it is the Democrats who have consistently been able to coalesce with a few moderate Republicans to elect a minority speaker, in other words a Republican who is in office largely through unified Democratic support.

In this session, the speaker is Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont), and with the House members indicating they are not moving any map until they agree upon their own new districts, and the Democrats unified to oppose any Republican map at any level, we could see a long redistricting process evolve.

Complicating matters is that Texas has an early primary, and it’s still on the books for March 1. The Census Bureau delaying in getting all the states their census tract data for months, which contain the numbers necessary to draw legal districts, has caused further delays. Therefore, either the process must accelerate or the state will be forced to postpone its primary. Doing so would also defer the May 24 runoff elections for those primaries in which no candidate receives majority support.

Texas cannot default to the previous congressional map. The state was awarded two new seats in reapportionment, so a new map must be constructed. A court could conceivably postpone redistricting, revert to the former map, and order the candidates for the two new seats to run statewide. There is precedence for such a decision.

Currently, the Texas congressional delegation stands at 24 Republicans and 12 Democrats. Where the two new seats will land is subject to debate. Of the 36 current seats, 28 are over-populated and led by freshman Rep. Troy Nehls’ (R-Richmond) 22nd District, which holds 972,309 people according to the 2020 census count. In all, six districts have more than 900,000 people. The Texas target population number is 766,987 residents.

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Texas Data

By Jim Ellis

Texas US House Districts

Dec. 17, 2020 — Yesterday, we analyzed the California official 2020 Statement of the Vote and today we turn out attention to voting statistics from the Lone Star State of Texas, a particularly interesting domain for the coming redistricting process. Estimates project that Texas will gain three congressional districts from reapportionment, which should become official at some point in January.

Despite predictions of a “blue wave” hitting Texas and putting the state in play for Joe Biden, Republicans once again swept the competitive races. Though President Trump’s margin did decline from 2016, his 52-46 percent margin was still more than comfortable, especially when considering he was simultaneously losing the nationwide vote.

As was the case in California, down-ballot GOP candidates, as a rule, performed better than President Trump. Sen. John Cornyn (R) was re-elected, and the GOP won 23 congressional races in the state, accounting for almost 11 percent of their party’s national total.

Sen. Cornyn topped 53 percent of the vote in recording a nine-point win over his Democratic opponent, retired Army helicopter pilot M.J. Hegar. In the 23 victorious Republican House races, the winning GOP candidate outpaced President Trump in 19 districts most of which were competitive at least to a degree.

Compared with the Democratic improvement in elections two years ago, the GOP rebounded in 2020. A total of 16 Republican incumbents sought re-election, and 11 of those improved their vote percentages from 2018. Additionally, all five of those falling below their previous benchmark did so by less than one percentage point.

For the Democrats, all 13 of their House incumbents saw a downgrade in their voter support from 2018. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo), who fought off a tough Democratic primary challenge in early March, saw the biggest drop for any Texas House incumbent, falling from 84.4 percent in 2018 to a 58.3 percent win in November. The more serious drop, however, was for Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) who won re-election to a third term from his South Texas district with just 50.5 percent of the vote against an opponent who spent only $404,000. Gonzalez’s victory percentage slipped from 59.7 percent in 2018.

The TX-15 district is largely a Mexican border seat that starts just east San Antonio in the Seguin area and travels south all the way through the city of McAllen in Hidalgo County. The latter entity hosts three-quarters of the 15th District’s population. Republicans, including President Trump, improved their standing throughout the Mexican border area in the 2020 election, which was a principal reason that Democratic gains in the Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio metropolitan areas were somewhat offset.

Statewide turnout was up a strong 23.7 percent when compared to 2016, enabling the state to exceed 11 million voters (11,315,056) for the first time. The Texas population grew 3.9 percent during that same time interval.

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