Washington Examiner: “Wealthy Republican donors are preparing a multimillion-dollar effort to register more than 1 million new GOP voters in Texas for 2020 amid anxiety that President Trump could be in more trouble in this reliably red state than some in the party realize.”
Embattled Texas Secretary of State David Whitley (R), who had questioned the U.S. citizenship of nearly 100,000 people, “resigned Monday ahead of being forced out of office, stepping down as Republicans went home to defend their vulnerable majority in 2020 rather than try forcing a late vote to save Gov. Greg Abbott’s nominee (R),” the AP reports.
Washington Post: “Whitley, a gubernatorial appointee and former aide to Abbott, spent less than six months overseeing Texas elections. He will leave office best known for the disastrous elections-integrity operation that wrongly identified thousands of naturalized citizens as suspected noncitizens illegally registered to vote.”
A new Emerson College survey in Texas finds President Trump in a dead heat with potential Democratic challengers Joe Biden and Beto O’Rourke.
Biden leads Trump 50% to 49%, while O’Rourke is tied with Trump at 50% to 50%.
In the Democratic primary race, Biden edges O’Rourke 23% to 22%, with Bernie Sanders at 17%, Pete Buttigieg at 8% and Elizabeth Warren at 7%.
Texas Secretary of State David Whitley (R) “has agreed to halt an investigation into the citizenship status of registered voters in a settlement agreement that will end three lawsuits filed by civil rights groups and naturalized citizens,” the Austin American Statesman reports.
“Under the settlement announced Friday, Whitley will rescind a Jan. 25 advisory that questioned the citizenship status of almost 100,000 registered voters but was determined to be based on flawed data that implicated a significant number of naturalized U.S. citizens who were legally eligible to vote.”
Washington Post: Texas agrees to stop effort to purge voter rolls.
Nate Cohn: “The dream of a ‘Blue Texas’ has captured the imagination of Democrats for nearly a decade, and Beto O’Rourke has come closer than anyone to making a statewide victory a reality.”
“His strengths as a candidate in his narrow loss in a 2018 Senate race against Ted Cruz — by 2.6 percentage points — led his supporters to push him to run for president, and he obliged them Thursday morning.”
“But his performance may have demonstrated something else: Texas is on the doorstep of emerging as a battleground state, and any number of Democrats might stand a chance to compete there in 2020 for the presidency or the Senate.”
“His relatively close loss is promising for the party because he did not take full advantage of the longer-term trends that might put it over the top sooner than later.”
Politico: “Facing a rapidly changing voter base, anti-Trump fervor and a more motivated Democratic Party, the state GOP is moving earlier than ever to prepare after watching two House members lose in 2018 and another half-dozen win by fewer than 5 points.”
“The party has set new fundraising goals and placed field staffers in Dallas and Fort Worth nine months earlier than in the last election cycle to facilitate more engagement with voters, with plans to expand the early hiring to other major metro areas to stanch bleeding Republican support in the suburbs.”
“Texas is no longer, I believe, a reliably red state. We are on the precipice of turning purple.”
— Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), on the Hugh Hewitt Show.
Texas state Rep. Ron Reynolds (D) “won re-election Tuesday and should be back on the job in a few months, with good behavior,” USA Today reports.
“Reynolds, who ran unopposed, is currently serving a yearlong sentence in the Montgomery County Jail for a 2015 misdemeanor conviction for illegally soliciting clients for his law practice from a chiropractic firm.”
Houston Chronicle: “Thousands of people were already camped out at a key early voting location in Houston on Monday morning, hours before voting was even set to begin.”
“Nearly 2,000 people stood in line outside of the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center on West Gray near River Oaks in a scene that looked more like a Black Friday shopping morning.”
“Voters elected political newcomer Pete Flores (R) to the Texas Senate on Tuesday, flipping a Democratic district red for the first time in 139 years and bolstering Republicans’ supermajority in the chamber ahead of the November elections,” the San Antonio Express-News reports.
Texas Tribune: “Flores’ victory grows the Senate GOP majority to 21 members, an important figure as the caucus enters the November elections looking to protect its supermajority with as many as three of its seats in play. Currently Republicans need a three-fifths majority — 19 members — to bring legislation to the floor without Democratic support.”
“There are few bigger warning signs for a member of Congress that their re-election may be in doubt than when a challenger outraises them. In Texas, it just happened to seven incumbents, all Republicans,” the Texas Tribune reports.
“The numbers only became more striking when compared to their rivals: Some Democratic challengers raised two, three or even four times what their Republican incumbent rivals posted… Along with Sen. Ted Cruz, the six congressional incumbents who were outraised are delegation fixtures: Reps. John Carter, John Culberson, Will Hurd, Pete Olson, Pete Sessions and Roger Williams.”
“Democrats hoping to wrest congressional seats away from diehard repeal-and-replace Republicans are campaigning on an unlikely issue for Texas — single-payer health care,” Politico reports.
“Across the country, many Democrats are trying to minimize internal battles on health care. But Democrats in this deep red state have also watched closely races where single-payer advocates have upset centrist primary opponents. And some believe that moving left on health care will mobilize new voters in primaries —and offer a shot at winning come November.”
The Texas Tribune has a good rundown on the Texas primaries last night:
- Both Land Commissioner George P. Bush (R) and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller (R) won their primary races outright.
- While Beto O’Rourke (D) easily won the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, his share of the vote is surprisingly low given his aggressive campaigning and fundraising. Both of his lesser-known primary rivals won in multiple counties.
- In a race that’s drawn national attention, Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (D) and Laura Moser (D) are headed for a runoff in their bid to take on Rep. John Culberson (R-TX).
- Lupe Valdez (D) and Andrew White (D) are headed to a runoff in the Democratic primary for governor.
Associated Press: “Equally striking was the showing by women on the ballot: Of the nearly 50 women running for Congress in Texas, more than half won their primaries outright or advanced to runoffs. What’s more, at least three of those runoffs in May will feature women going head-to-head, including a key race for Democrats in their bid to take control of the U.S. House this fall.”
“One big question to watch Tuesday is whether the wave of Democratic enthusiasm that has emerged across the country in the last year — and in Texas’s early vote tallies — seems big enough way to make a dent in Democrats’ historical disadvantages in places like Texas,” NBC News reports.
First Read: “So on Tuesday, one piece of advice: Count the vote numbers between Democrats and Republicans. They could tell quite a story.”
Earlier for members: Something’s Going On In Texas
This piece is only available to Political Wire members.
Your support makes this site possible. Join today for exclusive analysis, new features and no advertising.
Sign in to your account or join today!
[button color=”dark-blue” font_color=”#ffffff” link=”https://politicalwire.memberful.com/checkout?plan=9725″ size=”small”] Monthly – $5 per month [/button] or [button color=”dark-blue” font_color=”#ffffff” link=”https://politicalwire.memberful.com/checkout?plan=9724″ size=”small”] Annual – $50 per year [/button]
From the Texas Tribune:
Early in her tenure in the state Senate, Wendy Davis remembers having a conversation at a political event with an older man who happened to be a recently elected, first-term House member. Unaware she was a fellow lawmaker, he reached forward, as though to pat her arm, and instead reached between her arm and breast and cupped her breast.
“It wasn’t an accidental brushing,” the former state senator said. “It was a purposeful touching of my breast.”
Davis told her colleagues in the House about the incident and “as a consequence of that, he had a challenge getting anything passed,” she said.
Finally, he apologized. But Davis, the Fort Worth Democrat who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2014 after serving in the state senate for six years, acknowledged that her position gave her a form of recourse not available to other women working in the Capitol.
Texas House Speaker Joe Straus (R) announced “he will not run for re-election in 2018, a decision that has the potential to upend the political balance of power in the state,” the Texas Tribune reports.
“Straus, who has lately been the most powerful moderate Republican in the Texas Capitol, said he will serve until the end of his term.”
“His decision will immediately set in motion a scrum for control of the House, pitting arch-conservative members who have opposed him against more centrist Republicans who have backed Straus… Tea Party leaders and their allies have blamed Straus for killing controversial measures backed by the hard right, most notably a bill that would have regulated which bathrooms transgender Texans could use.”
Federal judges ruled that “parts of the Texas House map must be redrawn ahead of the 2018 elections because lawmakers intentionally discriminated against minorities in crafting several legislative districts,” the Texas Tribune reports.
“So far, state leaders have signaled they have no appetite to call lawmakers back to Austin over mapmaking. Instead, Texas is looking to the U.S. Supreme Court to keep its political boundaries intact.”