October 9, 2020


How down-ballot candidates could help Democrats flip Texas: The fate of the presidential race in Texas could be tied to dozens of legislative and congressional races in the state's suburbs. Those seats have often gone to Republicans. But Democratic candidates are raising and spending big. (ABBY LIVINGSTON, OCT. 8, 2020, Texas Tribune)

Members of the state Democratic Party first noticed changes on election night in 2016. While Democrats across the country were inconsolable over Hillary Clinton's loss to Donald Trump, the Texas Democratic Party's then-executive director, Crystal Kay Perkins, left her election night party with a sense of optimism.

"We won four state House seats," she said that night, also ticking off obscure victories like school board wins in small cities.

Within weeks, it became clear that while Trump won the state, the Republicans lost ground in several suburban areas. Those margins gave Texas Democrats a playbook for the next four years: a greater focus on candidates for state legislative races, municipal campaigns and community college and school board contests. In 2018, they made inroads with gains in the state House and Congress, though nothing quite as flashy as a statewide victory.

Rebecca Acuña, the lead Biden staffer in Texas and a veteran of several Texas political showdowns, credits Democratic operatives and politicians who kept going through the party's years in the wilderness.

"We have been through hell and back in the past decade, but all the while focused on building the infrastructure at the Texas Democratic Party necessary to meet this very moment," said Manny Garcia, the executive director of the Texas Democratic Party.

That strategy has continued in 2020, where Democrats have a chance of flipping the state House and winning more congressional seats. A slew of candidates are running in and around all of Texas' big cities, in seats that were never intended to be competitive when the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature redrew congressional and legislative districts in 2012.

But in those eight years, millions of people moved to Texas; and Republicans have witnessed a collapse among college-educated voters and increasingly diversifying suburbs.

And with more national and local money pouring into those down-ballot races, political experts say that could have a major effect upstream on the ballot.

"Normally, House and down-ballot candidates are desperate for presidential investment," said Amy Walter, a political analyst at the Cook Political Report. "In this case, I think that all the money being poured into suburban [congressional districts] and battleground state [legislative] districts could help boost Biden."

Posted by at October 9, 2020 7:45 AM