Lizzie Fletcher Wins Closely Watched Texas Democratic Runoff for Culberson Seat

Democrats are targeting Houston-area seat that Clinton carried in 2016

Texas Rep. John Culberson is a Democratic target this year, after Hillary Clinton carried his Houston-area 7th District in 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawyer Lizzie Pannill Fletcher won the Democratic runoff in Texas’ 7th District on Tuesday, defeating activist and writer Laura Moser, whom the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee considered a weak general election candidate.

With 63 percent of precincts reporting, Fletcher led Moser, 68 percent to 32 percent, according to The Associated Press. 

The battle for nine-term Republican Rep. John Culberson’s Houston-area seat gained national attention earlier this year when the DCCC dropped opposition research against Moser ahead of the March 6 primary.

Moser, nevertheless, finished second to Fletcher in that race and both advanced to Tuesday’s runoff since neither took more than 50 percent of the vote. Moser sought to capitalize on the intervention from the national party by staking out a position as the anti-establishment candidate.

But it was not enough to beat Fletcher, who touted her ties to the district. The national party intervention may have faded from voters’ minds, but it did raise questions about whether Democratic activists’ energy would be dampened heading into November.

The runoff had become a contest over competing party strategies to win GOP-leaning districts. Fletcher, who was backed by EMILY’s List and local Democratic leaders, stressed reaching out beyond the party core and appealing to voters of all political affiliations. Moser said Democrats should turn out their base and reach out to new voters.

Hillary Clinton carried by the 7thd District by 1 point in 2016. Democrats have already signaled they will target the seat, with House Majority PAC reserving $1.9 million in television airtime in the Houston media market. 

Although some Republicans had raised concerns about Culberson’s re-election effort earlier in the cycle, he has since upped his fundraising game, ending the first quarter with $971,000 in the bank, according to Federal Election Commission documents. Fletcher had $360,000 in cash on hand.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Tilts Republican.

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