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A court-drawn interim map gave Democrats a few more opportunities to pick up seats — although not as many as the party had hoped. Texas picked up four new House seats this cycle because of population increase — two were drawn to be safe Democratic seats and two were drawn as safe Republican districts. Still, only one House race out of 36 districts is expected to be competitive this November.
Democratic Primaries to Watch
If there’s a competitive House seat anywhere in Texas, it’s Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco’s majority Hispanic 23rd district in south Texas.
Two noteworthy Democrats are running for the chance to defeat the freshman Republican: state Rep. Pete Gallego and former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez. Attorney John Bustamante (D), the son of former Rep. Albert Bustamante, is also running, but he’s not expected to win.
National Democrats favor Gallego to win the nomination, but it is unlikely he’ll avoid a runoff with Rodriguez. The League of Conservation Voters has spent $200,000 to boost Gallego’s campaign in a crowded field that includes candidates with significant name identification.
Across the state in southeastern Texas, there’s also a crowded Democratic primary for the new 34th district. This seat includes part of the competitive territory from freshman Rep. Blake Farenthold’s (R) current district, which became a safer GOP seat under the new map.
The eventual nominee is all but assured to be the next Member of Congress in this heavily Democratic district. But it’s unlikely he will get there without a runoff first.
In a field of eight candidates, the top Democrats are attorney Filemon Vela, Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos and former Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra. Earlier this month, Villalobos was in the headlines for his bribery indictment — not a promising sign for his race.
There’s another crowded field of Democratic contenders in the new 33rd district around Fort Worth. This majority-minority district is comprised of a coalition of black and Hispanic voters. And much like the 34th district, the nominee will probably become the next Member.
The top candidates are state Rep. Marc Veasey, Fort Worth City Councilwoman Kathleen Hicks, businessman David Alameel and former state Rep. Domingo Garcia. Alameel dumped more than $2 million into the race, most of which comes from his own wallet.
Democrats are likely to see a runoff that includes two of these candidates. Local Democrats speculate the top two will probably be Veasey and Garcia, but Alameel’s heavy spending could push him into the runoff.
Republican Primaries to Watch
Last year, Republican mapmakers made Doggett’s seat unwinnable by moving it west to a more Republican area. Doggett opted to run in the new 35th district instead, leaving this staunchly Republican, west Austin seat open.
A dozen GOP candidates are seeking the nomination in the 35th, making a runoff certain.
Republicans said they would be surprised if former Secretary of State Roger Williams did not make the cut. He’s the only candidate to mount a serious television campaign in this district.