Everything is bigger in Texas, including the political stakes heading into the 2020 election cycle.
For decades, the Democrats have eyed flipping the lone-star state as key to electoral dominance. Liberals have seized on recent elections in the state as evidence they’re getting closer to the political holy grail of flipping Texas and its pile of electoral college votes. President Donald Trump was the first Republican to win the state by less than double digits in a presidential election since Bob Dole in 1996, while Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke came up just 2.5% of pulling off a massive senate upset in the state last year. (RELATED: Beto Claims Trans Women Of Color Can Be Killed With ‘Complete Impunity’)
The narrative in the state continued to shift against Republicans, when six Republican House members from the state announced their retirements in a so-called “Texodus,” but a deeper look at the retirements show little reason for Republicans to be concerned. Five of the six departing Republicans come from deep-red districts, with Republican Rep. Will Hurd being the lone exception. It’s also natural that Republicans will have more retirements in the lower chamber considering their caucus rules. While Democrats don’t have term limits for its leadership, Republicans limit committee chairs to three terms with a gavel. Retiring Reps. Bill Flores, Mac Thornberry, and Mike Conoway have all hit their term limits as chairs.
“We’re confident that we’re going to defend our Republican seats in Texas,” National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) deputy communications director Bob Salera told the Daily Caller. “The Democrats’ socialist agenda just isn’t going to play well in Texas.”
Some conservatives also believed that it will be politically useful to get some new blood into Congress as the party aims to build a bench for the future.
“We’re going to be out there fighting hard to regain the majority,” American Conservative Union president Matt Schlapp told the Daily Caller. “The fact that a bunch of members left who did nothing but complain about President Trump and the conservative base, I’m not crying in my cereal that they’re gone.”
Schlapp was also quick to brush aside concerns that Texas is moving left and said that Democrats’ overreach on impeaching President Donald Trump will help the party come election season. (RELATED: Democrats Launch Multimillion-Dollar Campaign Against Cornyn Before He Even Has A Democratic Challenger)
“They’re basically impeaching Trump because they’re still mad about 2016,” Schlapp said. “They don’t like anything about President Trump.”
For many, it has been shocking to see red-state Democrats who campaigned on bipartisanship and working with the president move so quickly to attempt to remove him in office. One such red-state Democrat is freshman Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, who was booed at a town hall after announcing her support for the impeachment inquiry that was launched by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last month. Slotkin tried to take a diplomatic approach toward the inquiry, but her constituents weren’t having any of it.
“Impeachment is a serious thing. This would be only the fourth president in history to be impeached. And to try to impeach him on something like this is really stretching it,” a constituent said.
“When you fell of the cliff for me was when you joined the coup against our president,” another constituent said.
It’s possible that red-state voters who crossed the aisle to check the president last Fall will view the rush to impeachment as a betrayal. That’s the bet Republicans are making to win Texas, and that’s the bet Republicans are making to win back the House.
“This is impeachment for being triggered, impeachment for being offended,” Schlapp said.
House races in the state may also be impacted by the long-shot presidential campaigns of the state’s two most prominent Democrats, former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, and former Democratic Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke. Castro and O’Rourke have staked out far-left positions in a failed attempt to bolster their campaigns in a crowded Democratic primary field. O’Rourke has gone so far as to propose confiscating certain types of guns through a mandatory buyback program, and punitively taxing churches and religious institutions that oppose same-sex marriage, both positions that are likely to be highly unpopular in the state. It’s clear that Republicans will attempt to make O’Rourke and Castro the faces of the state Democratic party.
Ultimately, it was probably never feasible for Democrats to win most of these open seats, given how conservative those districts are, but local candidates are getting no help from the national party, which continues its slide to the left. In fact, it’s more likely that Republicans gain House seats in Texas than lose them.
Democrats picked up two red-leaning districts in the state in 2018, which will be hard to hold onto during a presidential election cycle. Democrats scored upsets in the state’s 7th district, which the Cook Political Report rates as “R+7,” and the state’s 32nd district, which Cook Political Report rates as “R+5.” It seems more likely that Republicans will retake those seats than it is that they will lose seats they currently hold. (RELATED: Rep. Bill Flores Becomes Fifth Texas Republican To Announce Retirement From Congress)
“Any hope Democrats had in Texas went out the door when their presidential candidates from the state went full leftist,” Salera said. “They’ve just gone way too far to the left to win the state.”
While Democrats may one day be able to achieve their long-sought goal of flipping the state of Texas, it will not happen in 2020.