Battleground 2020: Texas House of Representatives

The battle to control the Texas House promises to be one of the most-watched political stories of 2020. For the first time since 2002, Democrats believe they have a real chance to take control of the Texas House, and with it, control of the all-important redistricting process. Redistricting occurs once every ten years following the census, and allows the party in control of the House to draw political maps. But the implications go beyond the Texas border. If Democrats can flip the Texas House, they augment their power in the Texas legislature, cement their power in Texas for the foreseeable future, and also increase their odds of winning U.S. Congressional seats.

Two Reasons Democrats Could Take the Texas House: Momentum and Money

Democrats flipped 12 seats from red to blue in 2018, and they hope to build on that momentum. If they can hold those seats and flip nine more, they will take control of the House. Democrats are hoping the combination of anti-Trump sentiment along with the scandal surrounding the outgoing Republican House Speaker Dennis Bonnen can be used to suppress Republican voter turnout. 

On the money front, every Democratic candidate  is fundraising off this fight. House Rep. Celia Israel, Chairwoman of the House Democratic Campaign Committee, called herself a “woman on a mission” to flip the Texas House. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi referred to Texas as “ground zero” for 2020, and failed presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke tweeted his support of a group called Flip the Texas House. When the next campaign finance reports are released in mid-January, expect to see Democratic candidates, and the political action committees (PACs) that support them, flush with money — from inside and outside Texas. 

Republicans Stock Up To Play Defense

Texas House Republicans announced Leading Texas Forward, a new PAC established to defend Republican incumbents. Led by House Rep. Charlie Geren and well-known Republican strategist Karl Rove, this PAC intends to raise $5 million. 

Likewise, Texas Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen put $3 million into Texas Leads PAC, with the stated intention of helping reelect incumbent Republicans. In the wake of the scandal surrounding Bonnen and his announced retirement, it is unclear who will control this PAC, but the money will certainly be put to use defending Republicans.

While these PACS are dedicated to defending incumbents seats, other Republican donors and PACs will be trying to retake the seats lost in 2018.

The Races to Watch

These 27 House districts were won by less than 10 percentage points in 2018 and are the most likely to flip (one way or another) in 2020.

IncumbentHouse DistrictPercentage Victory 2018Seeking Reelection?
Dwayne Bohac (R)1380.1%No
Gina Calanni (D)1320.17%Yes
Matt Shaheen (R)660.56%Yes
Morgan Meyer (R)1080.56%Yes
Angie Chen Button (R)1122.16%Yes
Jeff Leach (R)672.28%Yes
Michelle Beckley (D)652.32%Yes
Jonathan Stickland (R)922.39%No
Jon Rosenthal (D)1353.16%Yes
Erin Zweiner (D)453.2%Yes
James Talarico (D)523.46%Yes
Bill Zedler (R)963.63%Yes
Vikki Goodwin (D)474.8%Yes
Rick Miller (R)264.96%No
Ana-Maria Ramos (D)1025.76%Yes
Sarah Davis (R)1346.34%Yes
Rhetta Bowers (D)1136.96%Yes
Brad Buckley (R)547.68%Yes
Matt Krause (R)937.78%Yes
Jon Zerwas (R)288.32%No
Lynn Stucky (R) 648.32%Yes
Craig Goldman (R)978.39%Yes
Steve Allison (R)1218.44%Yes
Tony Tinderholt (R)948.58%Yes
Terry Meza (D)1059.48Yes
John Bucy (D)1369.64%Yes
Sam Harless (R)1269.68%Yes

New Feature!

Beginning in January, Transparency Texas will offer detailed analysis and up-to-the-minute reports on the race to raise campaign cash in these elections. Join us to stay up to date on the 2020 battle for the Texas House. (Prefer social? Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to keep relevant campaign finance news in your feed).

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