Texas Democrats on Pelosi’s Help: Meh

Senate and House hopefuls unite in calls for new party leadership

Support from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is an afterthought for the Democratic hopefuls in Texas' 23rd District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

When it comes to support from their party’s House leader, Texas Democratic hopefuls can take it or leave it.

In Texas’ 23rd District, all four Democrats running against Republican Rep. Will Hurd were at best lukewarm in their enthusiasm for a potential endorsement from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — with some suggesting they would not welcome the California Democrat’s help.

“I think it's time for new leadership,” Jay Hulings, a former federal prosecutor and the Democratic challenger with the biggest war chest in the district, told the Texas Tribune. “It’s been a long time, and I’ve got a lot of respect for the work that she’s done — she’s been very effective — but I think the time is right for a new face in the House representing us Democrats.”

Hulings has received a $2,000 contribution from House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer's campaign but nothing from Pelosi, according to his latest FEC report.

“She hasn’t asked,” he said of a financial stake from Pelosi. “I haven’t sought it.”

Hulings and three other Democrats look to unseat second-term Rep. Will Hurd, considered one of the most vulnerable House Republicans, in a district that runs 800 miles along the U.S.-Mexico border from San Antonio to El Paso.

Hillary Clinton carried the district by 3.4 points in 2016 after it swung for Mitt Romney by 2.6 in 2012, per calculations by Daily KOS elections.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race a Tossup.

Gina Ortiz Jones, a former Air Force intelligence officer from San Antonio who has raised the second-highest total among the Democratic challengers, said she has “not spent a lot of time thinking about Nancy Pelosi” in her talks with constituents. But she would welcome the leader’s support.

Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a 2018 Senate hopeful against GOP incumbent Ted Cruztold the Texas Tribune in September he did not want Pelosi to campaign with him in Texas.

O’Rourke backed the House party leader campaign of Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan last year. He has also praised Pelosi for her past work but has said it is time for a change.

“I don’t want anybody from outside of Texas to come to Texas. I just want to meet with Texans,” O’Rourke said.

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