Tag Archives: Texas

Now, Texas Rep. Marchant Bows Out

By Jim Ellis

Texas Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Coppell/DFW area)

Aug. 7 2019 — The string of House retirements continues this week as eight-term Texas Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Coppell/DFW area) announced that he, too, will leave the House at the end of the current term. Combined with his time in the Texas legislature, Marchant will have served 34 consecutive years in elective office.

The 24th District has been a focal point of the Texas congressional scene since Democrats position the seat high on their conversion opportunity list because of its close 2018 result. Despite Democratic nominee Jan McDowell spending less than $100,000 on her campaign, she came within a 51-48 percent margin of upsetting the veteran congressman, a difference of approximately 8,100 votes.

The vote drop-off from the 2016 presidential year, as it relates to turnout, was only four percent in 2018 compared to 42 percent when contrasting the 2014 midterm to the 2012 presidential election year, thus partially explaining why the latest results are so different.

Texas Congressional District 24, currently represented in the US House by Kenny Marchant.

The 24th District is the region surrounding DFW Airport, and contains parts of Dallas, Tarrant, and Denton Counties. President Trump carried the seat with a 51-44 percent margin, down from Mitt Romney’s 60-38 percent, and the 58-41 percent margin that John McCain recorded back in 2008. Then-Rep. Beto O’Rourke slipped past Sen. Ted Cruz (R) in the November election by the same margin that Rep. Marchant won re-election, 51-48 percent, however.

Over his eight elections, Marchant averaged 61.8 percent of the vote, but 58.2 percent since the district was drawn in its present fashion from as part of the 2011 redistricting process.

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Yet Another Texas Rep. to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 5, 2019 — The House Republican retirements keep coming. Now, three-term Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio) announced late last week that he will not seek re-election, risking the truest swing seat in the Texas delegation. Hurd, a former CIA officer, says he wants to leave the House “to pursue opportunities outside the halls of Congress to solve problems at the nexus between technology and national security.”

Texas Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio)

The Lone Star State’s 23rd District stretches from San Antonio all the way to El Paso, a distance of some 550 miles, making this one of the largest CDs in the United States that does not encompass an entire state. The 23rd also shares approximately 800 miles of the US-Mexico border, the largest of any congressional district.

TX-23 contains 26 counties and parts of three others, but just about 50 percent of the people live either in Bexar (San Antonio) or El Paso Counties. The seat’s voting history is as politically tight as its area is expansive. Hillary Clinton carried the district over President Trump, 50-46%, but Mitt Romney slipped past President Obama, 51-48 percent.

Rep. Hurd has represented the district for three terms but has never reached 50 percent in his trio of victories. Though he has won three times, his average vote percentage is 49.1 percent. In 2018, against Democratic nominee Gina Ortiz Jones, Rep. Hurd won the second closest raw vote victory of any Republican in the House, a 926-vote win. This seat will now likely become the top Democratic conversion target in the 2020 election cycle.

Prior to Rep. Hurd winning here in 2014, the district had flipped between the two parties since Democrat Ciro Rodriguez defeated seven-term veteran Republican Congressman Henry Bonilla in 2006. A subsequent court order after the state legislature drew new districts in 2003 changed significant parts of this seat, making it more Democratic.

After being re-elected in 2008, Rep. Rodriguez then lost in 2010 to Republican Quico Conseco, who then lost to Democrat Pete Gallego in 2012, who then lost to Hurd in 2014. From 2010-2018, the top winning percentage was Gallego’s 50.3 percent in 2012. Therefore, the 23rd has performed as the most evenly split district in the country during the current decade.

The citizen voting age population breaks into two racial demographic sectors, Hispanic (62.0 percent) and non-Hispanic white (31.8 percent). It is the most Hispanic district in the US that consistently elects a Republican candidate.

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Seven State Polls

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 2, 2019 — In the latter half of July, several different pollsters conducted Democratic presidential primary polls in seven important primary states. In Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, California, Texas, Michigan, and Illinois — all states whose voters will cast primary ballots on or before March 17 — contain an aggregate 1,012 first-ballot delegates.

The seven polls give us an idea as to how Democratic primary participants in the corresponding states would vote if their presidential nomination elections had been in mid to late July. Additionally, we make delegate dispersion projections from the polling data to the qualified candidates and attempt to determine whether any one individual could garner the 50 percent delegate support necessary to claim a first ballot victory.

The Firehouse/Optimus organization polled in Iowa (July 23-25; 630 likely Iowa Democratic caucus voters), New Hampshire (July 23-25; 587 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters), and South Carolina (July 23-25; 554 registered South Carolina voters). The Public Policy Institute of California surveyed the Golden State Democratic primary (July 14-23; 766 likely California Democratic primary voters). The University of Texas at Tyler (July 24-27; 554 registered Texas voters), Climate Nexus (July 14-17; 324 likely Michigan Democratic primary voters), and Victory Research (July 26-29; 1,200 likely Illinois Democratic primary voters) tested the Texas, Michigan, and Illinois electorates.

For the purposes of this exercise, let us assume that all of these surveys accurately depict how the Democratic electorates in each of these states would vote. Let us further assume that the congressional district delegate apportionment directly corresponds to the at-large state vote.

Doing so allows us to make delegate apportionment estimates for each of these states with the understanding that the conclusions are not precise. They do, however, give us an idea as to how the delegate dispersion might break. Understanding that several of the polled minor candidates will not be on the ballot when actual voting occurs allows us to project additional votes going to the close finishers, those at 13-14% in these polls. Doing so likely boosts them to the 15 percent threshold that party rules mandate as a qualification requirement for delegate votes.

The aggregate total of 1,012 delegates from these seven states represents just under 27 percent of the entire first ballot universe at the Democratic National Convention, so the combined tested states are significant in terms of the number of delegates they possess and their voting schedule position.

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Texas Rep. Mike Conaway to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Texas Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Midland)

Aug. 1, 2019 — It looks like the House GOP retirement cavalcade of the past week is continuing. Reports surfaced overnight yesterday that Texas Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Midland) would announce his retirement from Congress after what will be 16 years in office at the end of the current term. He did so yesterday in an afternoon press conference in Midland, Texas, which opens the 15th House seat in this election cycle, and the fifth in the past week.

Though the last five seats all come from the Republican side, four are safe for the party and will produce GOP successors. The eventual Republican nominee in the TX-22 seat, from which Rep. Pete Olson (R-Sugar Land) is departing, will still be favored next November, but this district will be competitive.

Texas Congressional District 11, currently represented in the US House by Mike Conaway (R-Midland)

Texas’ 11th District is the third-safest Republican seat in the nation, at least on the 2016 Trump presidential scale. The president received 78 percent of the vote from this west Texas constituency, and the eventual GOP nominee will become a prohibitive favorite in the 2020 general election.

The 11th District is anchored in the Midland-Odessa region deep in west Texas, moves east to annex the city of San Angelo, and then travels northeast almost to the outer Ft. Worth suburbs. The district contains 27 counties and parts of two others. In addition to posting 78 percent for Trump, Mitt Romney earned 79 percent, and John McCain recorded 76 percent support in 2008.

More than 70 percent of the congressional district lies in two state Senate seats, the latter districts actually being larger than federal CDs. Interestingly, those two Senate seats are anchored in cities, Lubbock and Amarillo, that lie as population anchors of different congressional districts. Therefore, Sens. Chris Perry (R-Lubbock) or Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) will have a smaller political base in the 11th CD than one would guess from looking at the district overlay map.

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Another Open House Seat …

Texas Congressional District 5, currently represented in the US House by John Ratcliffe (R-Heath/Rockwall)


By Jim Ellis

Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Heath/ Rockwall)

July 31, 2019 — The announcement that Dan Coats is resigning as Director of National Intelligence and Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Heath/Rockwall) being nominated to replace him creates another open House seat. Now within the space of just one week, the number of open congressional seats for the next election has jumped from 10 to 14.

It is likely that Ratcliffe will go through the confirmation process well into November, meaning Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will call a special election to fill the balance of the current term upon the nominee’s confirmation. Looking ahead, it is likely the special general could fall on March 3, which is the day of the 2020 Texas primary, which means that the candidates would be running to simultaneously fill the current term and for the 2020 party nomination. The confirmation process and calendar, however, will largely dictate if such a schedule will happen.

John Ratcliffe was elected to the House in 2014, after he defeated 34-year congressional veteran Ralph Hall (R-Rockwall) in that year’s Republican primary. He was easily elected in the three subsequent general elections and posted a 76 percent victory last November.

Texas’ 4th District begins at Texarkana on the Texas/Arkansas border, encompasses the counties that touch the northwest Louisiana boundary, and then moves westward and well north of Dallas along the Red River and Oklahoma state line.

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Rep. Pete Olson to Retire

Texas Congressional District 22, currently represented in the US House by Pete Olson (R-Sugar Land), who just announced his retirement.

By Jim Ellis

Texas Rep. Pete Olson (R-Sugar Land)

July 29, 2019 — Six-term Texas Rep. Pete Olson (R-Sugar Land) announced late last week that he will not seek re-election next year, bringing the House open seat total to an even dozen and leaving what appears to be a competitive race in his wake.

Over the years, the 22nd District has had a colorful history. Originally crafted as a swing district in the 70s, Ron Paul first won it in a 1976 special election before losing it in the regular election later that year. He would return to win the district back in 1978 and then hold it for three terms before running unsuccessfully for the Senate.

Succeeding Dr. Paul was then-state Rep. Tom DeLay (R), who would win 11 elections in the congressional district and rise through leadership to become Majority Whip and Majority Leader.

Leaving mid-term in 2006, the Republicans were barred from replacing DeLay on the ballot, which led to then-Houston City Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs (R) running as a write-in candidate and losing to a Democrat, former Rep. Nick Lampson. Two years earlier, Lampson had lost his Beaumont-anchored district. Republicans re-claimed the seat two years later in the person of the current incumbent, Pete Olson.

Rep. Olson issued the following statement explaining his decision: “as someone who has long advocated for policies that put our families first, it’s time for me to take my own advice and be a more consistent presence to help our family. To that end, while I will complete my term in the 116th Congress, I will not be seeking reelection.”

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A Highly Anticipated Challenge:
Texas Rep. Chip Roy vs. Wendy Davis

By Jim Ellis

July 24, 2019 — Late last week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee brain trust, members of the House Majority leadership including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and most of the Texas Democratic delegation, announced they are supporting an event to encourage former Lone Star State gubernatorial candidate and ex-state Sen. Wendy Davis to run for Congress.

Texas freshman Rep. Chip Roy (R-Austin) and ex-state Sen. Wendy Davis (D)

Even before the event, held last night, got underway, Davis had confirmed that she would challenge freshman Rep. Chip Roy (R-Austin) who won a close 50-48 percent open seat victory in 2018 from a district that stretches from San Antonio to Austin and through the Texas Hill Country.

Davis was the 2014 Texas Democratic nominee for governor but went down to a crushing 59-39 percent defeat at the hands of then-attorney general Greg Abbott (R). At the time, Davis was a Ft. Worth area state senator who had gained statewide publicity for attempting a 2013 solo filibuster to block a bill that would have outlawed abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, in addition to other restrictions.

The publicity jettisoned her into becoming a statewide candidate but ended in a 20-percentage point loss. Now the party leadership is hoping to make her a viable congressional candidate some 200 miles from her legislative district. Davis was elected twice to her Ft. Worth area Texas senate seat, defeating an incumbent Republican in her first election in 2008 and winning re-election in equally close proportion.

Interestingly, the vote totals for and against her hardly changed from 2008 to 2012. In her first election, Davis attracted 147,832 votes. In her successful re-election bid, she received 147,103. Though her Republican opponents were different individuals, including an incumbent in 2008, they too, received almost an identical number of votes: 140,737 (2008) and 140,656 (2012). Texas is one of two states, California being the other, where the state Senate seats are more populous than congressional districts. After losing the gubernatorial race, Sen. Davis chose not to seek re-election in 2016 and moved to the Austin area.

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