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While there are some Anglos among the names floated for statewide office, there are few avenues for an ambitious white Democrat to run for the House in Texas, given the state’s demographics and the way the Republican-controlled Legislature redrew the lines in redistricting.
Reps. Lloyd Doggett and Gene Green are the last of the white Democrats elected when the party controlled the map-making process. Each was able to leverage their incumbency to hold onto heavily minority districts, but both are likely to one day be replaced by a Hispanic.
Among the future contenders for Green’s seat, Democrats identified state Reps. Armando Walle, Carol Alvarado and Ana Hernandez, plus Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia.
There is perpetual scuttlebutt in the state that Doggett is vulnerable to a Hispanic primary challenge. Other Democratic strategists discount that line of thinking, citing Doggett’s war chest and ability to weather whatever lines he’s drawn into.
Whenever he leaves office, Democrats named Martinez Fischer and state Rep. Mike Villarreal as likely contenders. Martinez Fischer could also run in Joaquin Castro’s 20th District if he seeks higher office.
Texas’ 23rd, which includes much of the state’s border with Texas, is the only competitive district in the state and turns over regularly. If Democratic Rep. Pete Gallego lost re-election and Democrats were on the hunt for a new recruit, one could be state Rep. Mary González.
Should 11-term Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson retire, Democrats said attorney Taj Clayton, along with state Reps. Yvonne Davis and Eric Johnson would be likely contenders for her Dallas-based 30th District.
State Rep. Armando “Mando” Martinez is also a rising star. But his local seat in the Brownsville-based 34th District is unlikely to open up any time soon — Rep. Filemon Vela, from a well-known family in South Texas, was elected in 2012.
The great hope for Democrats is that continued Texas redistricting litigation will provide an additional majority Hispanic district based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. State Rep. Rafael Anchia is the obvious choice for that hypothetical seat, along with Tarrant County Justice of the Peace Sergio L. De Leon.
And then there are a handful of Texas Democrats who stir up chatter but have no obvious place to run for federal office. Democrats put former state Rep. Mark Strama and Jane Hamilton, the current chief of staff to Rep. Marc Veasey, in this category.
Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Lily Adams, granddaughter of Ann Richards, is a respected political operative in Washington, D.C., and recently earned attention as a possible candidate talent.
Adams’ mother, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, said she is optimistic about the future of her party in the Lone Star State. She says the enthusiasm behind the Davis and Van de Putte campaign is reminiscent of her mother’s 1990 race.
“I think we’re seeing a whole new crop of folks who will cut their teeth on these races,” Richards said. “It’s better than it’s ever been in terms of new talent and new leadership.”