Tag Archives: Rep. Van Taylor

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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Texas Runoff Tomorrow

By Jim Ellis

Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R)

July 13, 2020 — The general election is finally getting underway in Texas. The long-awaited Lone Star State runoff elections are tomorrow, postponed from May 26. At the federal level, 16 nominations will be decided, one for the Senate and 15 more in US House races.

In Texas, if no candidate secures a 50 percent majority in the primary, which, in 2020, was all the way back on Super Tuesday, March 3, a runoff election between the top two finishers is then conducted within 12 weeks. Because of COVID-19 precautions, the extended runoff cycle has consumed 19 weeks.

Sen. John Cornyn (R) will learn the identity of his general election opponent tomorrow night, and the incumbent’s campaign has seemingly involved itself in the Democratic runoff. The Cornyn team released a poll at the end of last week that contained ballot test results for the Democratic runoff, a race that seemingly favored original first-place finisher M.J. Hegar, but closer examination leads one to believe that the Cornyn forces would prefer to run against state Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas).

The TargetPoint survey identified Hegar as a 33-29 percent leader but points out that among those respondents who claim to have already voted, the two candidates were tied at 50 percent apiece. They further used the poll to identify Sen. West as the most “liberal” candidate in the race as an apparent way to influence Democratic voters that he is closer to them than Hegar.

We have seen this type of tactic used in other states. In New Mexico, the EMILY’s List organization was running ads against former state Rep. Yvette Herrell, saying she was the “true Trump candidate” in the Republican primary. This was done to convince Republican voters to support Herrell, a candidate the progressive left organization, and many others, believed to be the weaker opponent for incumbent Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-Las Cruces).

Regardless of who wins the Texas Senate Democratic runoff tomorrow night, Sen. Cornyn will be a clear favorite for re-election on Nov. 3.

In the House, six districts host runoffs in seats that will result in a substantial incumbent victory this Fall. Therefore, runoff winners in the 3rd (Rep. Van Taylor-R), 15th (Rep. Vicente Gonzalez-D), 16th (Rep. Veronica Escobar-D), 18th (Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee-D), 20th (Rep. Joaquin Castro-D), and 35th Districts (Rep. Lloyd Doggett-D) will become largely inconsequential in November.

The 2nd District originally was advancing to a secondary election, but candidate Elisa Cardnell barely qualified for the Democratic runoff and decided to concede the race to attorney and former Beto O’Rourke advisor Sima Ladjevardian. Therefore, Ladjevardian became the party nominee against freshman Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Houston) without having to face a second election. The congressman is a strong favorite for re-election, but Ladjevardian had already raised will over $1 million for just her primary election.

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Runoff Review – Part II

Map of US Congressional districts in Texas

By Jim Ellis

March 26, 2020 — With Gov. Greg Abbott (R) moving the Texas runoff election date, it has drastically changed the short-term Lone Star State political scene. At the end of last week, Abbott transferred the post-primary runoff election date from May 26 to July 14 in consideration of COVID-19 virus precautions.

Statewide, the US Senate Democratic primary is headed to a runoff election, as well as 15 different congressional campaigns.

In the Senate race, retired Army helicopter pilot M.J. Hegar, who held Rep. John Carter (R-Georgetown) to a 51-48 percent re-election victory in 2018, placed first in the Democratic primary with 22.4 percent of the vote, but a long way from the 50 percent plateau a candidate needs to claim a party nomination. She will face state Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) who slipped into second place by just over a percentage point in the 12-candidate field. Sen. Royce scored 14.5 percent statewide.

The eventual nominee faces three-term Sen. John Cornyn (R), who easily secured re-nomination in his Republican primary (76 percent over four opponents). The longer runoff cycle should typically help the second place finisher, since the individual has more time to change the campaign’s flow. In this case, however, the Democratic nominee, who already starts as a severe underdog to Sen. Cornyn, would lose valuable general election time with the later runoff, thus making the task of overcoming the incumbent even more formidable.

Of the 15 House runoffs, nine are viable to some degree. The six that are not lie in districts that are safe for one party or the other. For example, it matters little which Democrat wins the 13th District runoff (Trump ’16: 79.9 percent), or who eventually becomes the victorious Republican in the 18th CD secondary vote (Clinton ’16: 76.5 percent).

Rep. Van Taylor’s (R-Plano) north Texas seat is typically thought of as safely Republican, but his 54 percent win percentage in 2018 was considerably below the average GOP vote. Two attorneys, Sean McCaffity and Lulu Seikaly will now do battle until July 14 to see who faces Rep. Taylor in his first re-election bid. The two were virtually tied in the Democratic primary, 44.5 – 43.7 percent, with the slight edge going to McCaffity. Rep. Taylor will be the decided favorite in November.

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