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Analysis And Endorsements: Will Democrats Flip The Texas House In 2022? (Part 3)

Analysis And Endorsements: Will Democrats Flip The Texas House In 2022? (Part 3)

Part Three: San Antonio and South Texas

If you’ve been following along with the previous parts of this series, first, we’re going over each House race that has both Democrats and Republicans running for the seats. Then, the seats which have only Democrats or only Republicans duking it out, we’ll go over in a later part of the series.

Here is what our balance of power looked like at the end of Part 2:

For each race, we’re looking at the candidates, their experience, their online presence, how active their campaign has been, their positions, the demographic breakdown of the district, and the district’s previous elections to make predictions of who might win the primary and the general election. We’re also considering the “Beto effect.” Let’s dig in.

Bexar County: HD117, HD118, HD120, HD121, HD122, HD123, HD124, and HD125.

HD117.

Philp Cortez (D) is the incumbent of HD117. Over the last two elections, he won this district by around 15-points. Therefore, this district will be likely Democrat, but Cortez does have a Republican challenger.

Aaron Schwope (R) doesn’t have a website or social media page, nor could I find any reference of him in local Republican groups. It’s possible that he could turn his campaign around between now and November, but as of right now, his campaign doesn’t appear to be putting any effort into running.

I predict Cortez will win re-election in November.

HD118.

This will be an exciting race to watch. It’s a rematch between incumbent John Lujan (R) and Frank Ramirez (D). HD118 was the seat of Leo Pacheco (D) when he abruptly resigned in 2021. This has been a reliable Democratic seat for a long time, but it went to a special election when Pacheco left. Unfortunately, our turnout sucked. Democrats in the House and from all corners flooded into San Antonio the weekend before the election and went door-knocking for Ramirez. However, our turnout still sucked, and Ramirez lost this race by less than 300 votes.

Special elections always piss me off because no one ever shows up to them. In HD118, there are 151,000 eligible voters, yet only 11,500 showed up to cast a ballot during this race. That’s like 7%. The other 93% of the district, who couldn’t be bothered to cast a vote, gave this long-term Democratic seat to a Republican.

Lujan had been fighting for this seat for a long time. In 2016, he lost by 11-points, and in 2018, he lost by 17-points. He should have lost again in 2021, but no one showed up.

Despite Democrats’ loss in the 2021 special election, I’m predicting that we will take this seat back in November and Ramirez will become the newest House member. This seat is probably Democrat, and Lujan’s win was a fluke, only awarded to him because of the 7% turnout in this race. I’m sure that Bexar County Democrats won’t allow it to happen again. Living Blue in Texas is endorsingFrank Ramirez for HD118. Not only is a good fit for the district, but we know he’ll work hard for Texas.

HD120.

Incumbent Barbara Gervin-Hawkins (D) is running for re-election. Her only challenger is Ronald Payne (R), who has repeatedly run for and lost this race. Payne lost by 35-points in 2020 and 37-points in 2018. Now he’s back to getting destroyed in 2022.

This seat is likely Democrat, and I predict Gervin-Hawkins will win again in November (by a landslide).

HD121.

Incumbent Steve Allison (R) is a little old man who still thinks the Republican Party stands for low taxes and small government. As far as Republicans go, he’s one of the least fascists in the State House, which is why he’s being targeted from within his own party. HD121 is the ex-Speaker Joe Straus’ old district.

The far-right crowds and the Texas Scorecard clique have accused Allison of being a secret leftist, because he voted with Democrats once or twice on non-controversial issues. However, the Republican establishment has been pumping money by the tons into his race.

His Republican challenger, Michael Champion (not the actor), in all appearances is as moderate as Allison. Still, he lacks an online presence or hasn’t been pictured at local Republican club events. I’m predicting Allison will win this Republican primary.

On the Democratic side, Allison has two challengers, Becca Moyer Defelice and Gabrien Gregory. 121 is going to be probably Republican, but with a hard fought campaign, I think this seat can flip. DeFelice is a gun violence prevention advocate, and Gregory is a campaign staffer who has already racked up quite a few big-name endorsements. I’ve reached out to both for interviews on our Meet the Candidate series. We’ll revisit this race for an endorsement before the primary election.

HD122.

122 is in the open seat left by the shamed Lyle Larson (R) when he decided to grow a spine and abandon the Republican Party. I’ve heard he’s a nice guy, but he blocked me on Twitter, so I wouldn’t know. Four Republicans are clawing at each other to win this seat, Adam Blanchard, Mark Dorazio, Mark Cuthbert, and Elisa Chan.

Blanchard calls himself a successful entrepreneur, which as most of us know, usually means he either got a big loan from daddy or pays his employees poverty wages. Although, I don’t know if either is true. I’m sure there’s something exciting to his personality other than he’s not poor, but I can’t tell you what that is. Dorazio has an endorsement from Ted Cruz and Rick Perry, which is all you need to know. Cuthbert’s wife is the face of his campaign and might be his campaign manager. Both are in their late 40s and have a set of quadruplets. Chan is the only woman running in this Republican primary and has a public record of making slurs about the LGBTQ community.

None of the Republicans running in this race are superstars, but I am predicting Dorazio will win because he’s so entrenched with the Bexar County Republican establishment.

The only Democrat running in this race is Angi Aramburu. She has until November to make a significant impact in this probably Republican seat but maybe getting a slow start. Hopefully, we’ll see more from her campaign in the coming months.

HD123.

HD123 incumbent Diego Bernal (D) has been a voice of reason and has always stood with integrity in the Texas House. We love him, which is why Living Blue in Texas is endorsingDiego Bernal for HD123.

This is a likely Democrat seat, but Bernal does have a challenger from the right. Charlotte Valdez (R) is an unknown without a website or social media presence but doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning this seat.

HD124.

Diego Bernal

Incumbent Ina Minjarez (D) is someone we have also admired, but she’s running for Bexar County Judge and leaving this seat open. There are three Democrats and one Republican looking to replace her.

The Democrats running for 124 are Josey Garcia, Steven Gilmore, and Gerald Brian Lopez. Garcia is a veteran, a mother of eight, and an advocate for families of children with disabilities. Gilmore and Lopez are both San Antonio attorneys. I’ve reached out to all three of them for interviews and will endorse someone in this race before the primary election.

The Republican running for 124 is Johnny Arredondo, who has run for various elected positions in the Bexar County area every year for the last five years but has never won. This is a likely Democrat seat, and I predict Arredondo will lose yet another election.

HD125.

Incumbent Ray Lopez (D) is seeking re-election and is being challenged from both sides of the aisle. Lopez has been an active community member and has continuously fought for the rights of all Texans. We like Lopez, but he does have a Democratic challenger, Eric Michael Garza. We’ve reached out to Garza for an interview to learn more about him and why he’s challenging Lopez. This will be another race you can expect to see an endorsement in the coming weeks.

The Republican challenging Lopez is Carlos Antonio Raymond. Raymond is a Black Republican fighting for Texas Conservative values, which is always weird, but this is a likely Democrat seat, and I am predicting that Raymond’s campaign will barely make a squeak.

South Texas – HD31, HD34, HD35, HD37, HD39, HD41, and HD42.

HD31.

The incumbent of HD31 is the traitor Ryan Guillen (R). Once he had a (D) next to his name, he first betrayed his party with his votes, then crossed his constituents with political loyalty. I’m from North Texas, and I’m aware that the narrative is that Democrats are more Conservative in South Texas. However, some of my favorite South Texas Democrats are far from Conservative (I’ll tell you more about some of them below). The voter turnout in many South Texas counties is so low that it’s tough to judge the past electorate by their ideology.

Regardless, the one person in HD31 that every Democrat is rooting to lose is Ryan Guillen.

Aside from Guillen, two other Republicans are vying for this seat. Alena Berlanga and Michael Monreal. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I can reasonably predict that this Republican primary will pan out because I don’t know enough about would-be Republican voters in this district.

Will they view Guillen as someone who lacks principle or a hero for “seeing the light?” Berlanga is seemingly made her campaign about Guillen and attacking his record as a once-Democrat. Will that style of vicious politics, is appealing to HD31 voters?

Then there’s Monreal, he’s a veteran and had a 28-year military service career. He boasts about being a lifelong Republican and NRA member. His clothes always look freshly pressed. He stands as straight as a board and looks like he’d have a firm handshake. Under normal circumstances, I’d call him a shoo-in, but the Guillen equation is throwing this whole race off.

But isn’t HD31 a blue district?

This could be a complete miscalculation by Ryan Guillen (R). As a Democrat, he beat the Republican challenger by 17-points in 2020. But, did the people vote for Guillen because of the candidate or because it’s a blue district and he was the guy on the ticket?

Right now, Guillen is betting on the people who voted for him when he was a Democrat to vote for him when he’s a Republican.

In 2018, he faced a primary challenger (as a Democrat), which he only won by 3-points, no Republican challenger. He ran unopposed in 2016, 2014, 2010, and 2008 (He won against a Republican in 2012 and beat her by 33-points.

This is the first time Guillen is facing both Republican and Democratic challengers, and this is his first time running as a Republican. This district was also given a +10 (R) boost in the redistricting process.

The Democratic challenger is Martha Gutierrez. This could be a toss-up race, and with a Rockstar campaign, Gutierrez can take this seat. The campaign and Democrats in this district need to focus on Guillen’s lack of loyalty and failure to fight for Democratic values to appeal to the middle-of-the-road voters. She has until November to make magic in this race, and if the State Party was wise, they would invest in keeping this seat blue.

HD34.

HD34 is a reliably blue seat, which is why we’re calling it likely Democrat. Able Herrero (D) is the incumbent running for re-election, and I predict he will easily secure his seat in the 88th Legislature. But, it is Texas, which means there are two Republicans who think they have a shot at this seat.

Carolyn Vaughn (R) is a previous Corpus Christi City Council Member, Nueces County Commissioner, and an oil and gas executive. She wants to give oil companies tax breaks and strip away regulations that keep Texans safe. James Hernandez’s (R) campaign has made a lot less noise than Vaughn’s, and I couldn’t even find a website for him. For that reason, I’m predicting Vaughn will win the Republican primary in 34.

HD35.

Incumbent Oscar Longoria (D) is seeking re-election and will probably win this likely Democrat seat. But, despite that, he has a Republican challenger. Oscar Rosa (R) appears to be a moderate Republican who has kept quiet on some of the GOP’s most significant culture war issues. But he’s still a Republican, and HD35 will not flip.

HD37.

Alex Dominguez (D) is one of my favorite South Texas Democrats I mentioned earlier. He is far from what the talking heads would label a “Conservative Democrat.” And as much as we all have loved him in the Texas House, we’ll love him more in the Texas Senate, as he is running for Senator Lucio’s old seat. There are three Democrats and two Republicans running for the open position in HD37 to replace him.

Frank Puente (D) is a small business owner looking to drive economic growth to the region. Ruben Cortez (D) previously sat on Texas’ State Board of Education and is looking for other ways to make a difference. Finally, Luis Villareal Jr. (D) is the younger of all the candidates in this race and a small business owner.

We’ve reached out to all of these candidates for interviews and may circle around to this race again for an endorsement before the primary election. I looked to see if Alex Dominguez endorsed any of these would-be replacements and didn’t find anything. However, his opinion on this race will hold a lot of weight.

Also running for this likely Democrat seat are Janie Lopez (R) and George Rivera (R). Lopez calls herself a Republican pioneer elected to public office in the Rio Grande Valley, as she served as a Republican school board member. She claims to be guided by her Christian values and wants to bring Conservative values to the Rio Grande Valley. Rivera is the current mayor of Palm Valley, TX (population 1,300) and a 15-year veteran. His platform is more moderate than the average Conservative, and his passions seem locally driven.

I’m predicting Rivera will win the primary, but Democrats will keep the seat in November.

HD39.

Incumbent Armando “Mando” Martinez (D) is running for re-election. This likely Democrat seat is unlikely to flip, but Martinez does have a Republican challenger, Jimmie Garcia (R). Garcia’s social media pages are full of fake news and he seems to be some-what out of touch with reality. There isn’t much more to say about this race, but I’m predicting Martinez will win.

HD41.

Incumbent Bobby Guerra (D) is probably what most of us would call a “moderate Democrat” but has held this likely Democrat seat for a decade. His Republican challenger has almost the same name as him, John Robert Guerra (R), but simply goes by “Doc.”

Doc also ran against Guerra in 2020 and lost by 15-points. I’m predicting a repeat of that election.

HD42.

Incumbent Richard Pena Raymond (D) is another “moderate Democrat” from South Texas who has stayed clear of progressive issues. The last time Raymond had a Republican challenger, he beat him by 50-points. The Republican challenger in this race, Joe Brennan, is possibly invisible, as I could not find a webpage or social media sites for him.

Raymond is also being challenged in the primary by Jorge “JD” Delgado (D). Delgado is younger and is running on the premise that Laredo is ready for a change in leadership with fresh new ideas. That may be the case, but what fresh new ideas are those? More progressive than Raymond? Or just different? I couldn’t answer that question on my own, so I reached out to the Delgado campaign. Hopefully, I’ll interview him before the primary election, and we’ll see what he says.

This is a likely Democrat seat, and whoever wins the primary will also win in November. Delgado would need a blood, sweat, and tears type of campaign to unseat a long-time incumbent. I don’t believe that’s the type of campaign he’s having and most likely, Raymond will win the primary.

Will Democrats win the Texas House?

There are still 29 more contested races that I will analyze and predict in the coming weeks.

If you’re following along with my predicted balance of the House in the 88th Legislature, here is where we are: 41 safe (R) seats, 26 safe (D) seats.

My predictions in Part 1: Likely Republican: 06, 09, 97, 98. Probably Republican: 13. Tossup Race: 108, 112. Probably Democrat: 93, 105. Likely Democrat: 92, 95, 102, 111, 114, 115.

My predictions for the Harris County House races were: Likely Republican: 129. Probably Republican: 133, 149. Tossup Race: 128, 132, 138. Likely Democrat: 131, 134, 135, 142, 145, 147, 148, 149.

In Part 2, with Collin and Denton County, here were my predictions: Probably Republican: 33, 61, 66, 67, 63, 65. Likely Democrat: 70.

For San Antonio and South Texas: Probably Republican: 121, 122. Tossup Race: 31. Probably Democrat: 118. Likely Democrat: 34, 35, 37, 39, 41, 42, 117, 120, 123, 124, 125.

Here’s a visual representation, now:

Part 4 of this series will feature Austin and Central Texas; check back in a few days for that article.

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