Part Five: The Rest of Central Texas, West Texas, and Southeast Texas.
- Part 1 – East Texas, Dallas, and Tarrant County
- Harris County Races – Predictions and Endorsements
- Part 2 – Collin and Denton County
- Part 3 – San Antonio and South Texas
- Part 4 – Travis County and Some of Central Texas
Welcome back to our series on analyzing the House races for the 88th Legislature. There are 150 House seats, so this is part five. 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 that have only Democrats or Republicans duking it out, we’ll go over in a later part of the series.
At the bottom of the page, you’ll see the total balance of power by district and on a graph.
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 predict who might win the primary and the general election. We’re also considering the “Beto effect.” So let’s get to it.
The rest of Central Texas – HD19, HD53, HD54, HD55, HD56, and HD71 .
HD19 used to be James White’s (R) district, but White is running for Agriculture Commissioner, leaving this seat open. There are four Republicans and one Democrat running for this seat. HD19 may be the whitest district in Texas and is a likely Republican seat, with a 76.3% white voting-age population.
The Democrat running for this seat is Pam Baggett. Baggett is a local Democratic and community activist.
Baggett has a robust platform and is firm on Democratic priorities, but she has a long road ahead in this district. We plan on reaching out to her soon for our Meet the Candidate series.
The Republicans running for this seat are Justin Berry, Nubia Devine, Perla Hopkins, and Ellen Troxclair.
Berry is an extremist who ran against Vikki Goodwin (D) last year and lost by 1 point. Berry is running on a platform fueled by fake news, the border, defunding police, and anti-Critical Race Theory. Devine wants to stop people from voting and turn away refugees asking for asylum at the border. Hopkins is from California. And Troxclair wrote a book telling Republican women how to advocate for themselves without becoming feminists.
Berry and Troxclair will likely go to a runoff election.
The incumbent of HD53 is Andrew Murr (R), often referred to as “the mustache” for his ridiculous handlebar mustache. While some of this district is in Central Texas, much of it is also in West Texas.
The Republican challenging Murr is Wesley Virdell, who agrees that Murr’s mustache is ridiculous. Virdell ran for Congressional District 11 in 2020, only getting 7% of the vote in the primary. His positions are run-of-the-mill Republican, guns, God, and fetuses.
This is the first time Murr has had a primary challenger, so it’ll be interesting to see how extreme this district is.
The Democrat running against Murr is Joe Herrera. Herrera also ran against Murr in 2020 and penned an Op-Ed for Living Blue in Texas. Herrera has said that this race is personal for him. His priorities are actual policies that would help make the people’s lives in his district better. This is why Living Blue in Texas is endorsing ⭐ Joe Herrera for HD53. This is a likely Republican seat, so Herrerra will have to bust his hump in this campaign, but it’s not an impossible win.
HD54 and HD55.
Of all of the districts drawn by the white Republicans trying to stay in power, HD54 and HD55 are probably the most absurd. Bell County has the highest Black population in Central Texas, and the GOP has worked overtime to disenfranchise them. In the 2020 election, the voter turnout was only 58%, and in 2018 it was 29%.
Republicans drew these two districts like a donut to maximize white voters in each district and secure their spots of oppression. However, I think that if Democrats had a massive GOTV effort here this year, both of these seats could be flipped. Let’s talk about why.
Based on the demographics of HD54, this should be a Democratic District. It’s 29% Black, 22% Hispanic, and only 42% white. In 2020, this district included Lampasas County. After redistricting, it’s just Bell County. Lampasas is much redder than Bell. Republicans will rely on Bell’s low voter turnout to win this district.
A few months ago, I watched a live stream of a Beto rally in Killeen, and the turnout was huge. Hundreds came out to see him. So there’s a lot of excitement about Beto in this district.
I expect that Beto’s race could give Democrats up to a 10 point boost in HD54 and HD55, even though right now both districts are probably Republican.
The incumbent of HD54 is Brad Buckley (R). There’s nothing special about Buckley. He wasn’t much of a leader in the House, nor did he pass any meaningful legislation. His Democratic opponent is Jonathan Hildner.
Unlike Buckley, Hildner is running on a platform to help his community.
Improving infrastructure, protecting veterans, and creating a robust local economy are just a few of his platform positions. However, Hildner is the stronger candidate that will do the most for his district. This is why Living Blue in Texas is endorsing ⭐ Jonathan Hildner for HD54.
Incumbent Hugh Shine (R) hasn’t had a Democratic challenger in the last three elections. Based on the demographics of this district, this should be a blue district, but again, the voter turnout has been historically low.
Tristian Sanders (D) is challenging Shine in the November election. It’s still a long way off. We’ll try to interview Sanders before then.
HD56 covers most of Waco and rural McLennan County. Of course, the Republicans cracked this district to disenfranchise the communities of color in Waco. So, Erin Shank, the Democrat challenging incumbent Charles “Doc” Anderson (R) for this likely Republican seat.
Shank is a Central Texas lawyer who wants to improve the people’s lives in her community. She faces a serious uphill battle in this district, though. But who knows what will happen between now and November.
Incumbent Stan Lambert (R) has faced Democratic challengers for the last several election cycles, ear time beating them by at least 50 point margins. So I don’t expect to see much change in this likely Republican district, which was further gerrymandered in Republicans’ favor.
Lambert’s primary challenger, Samuel Weatherby (R), is an extremist who wants to “win the culture wars.” (Whatever that’s supposed to mean.) Weatherby is an unknown whose campaign has gotten little traction, and I predict Lambert will win this primary.
The Democratic challenger in this district is Linda Goolsbee. While she has until November to make an impact, she doesn’t have a website or any social media pages yet. But, hopefully, her campaign will pick up steam soon.
West Texas – HD74 and HD69.
This likely Democrat seat is reliably blue as several counties in this district have a history of being blue. However, incumbent Eddie Morales Jr. (D) is running for re-election, and the biggest hurdle he faces is this area also has historically low voter turnout.
As long as his campaign focuses on GOTV, he should have nothing to worry about. His Republican challenger, Katherine Parker, is another lunatic who wants to bring the word of God to her constituents. Unfortunately, she’s too extreme for this district and doesn’t have a shot.
Incumbent James Frank (R) is running for re-election in this likely Republican seat.
The Democratic challenger in HD69 is Walter Coppage. At the same time, Coppage has until November to run a fantastic campaign. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen much effort from his campaign yet. Hopefully, he will pick up the pace soon.
Southeast Texas – HD15, HD22, HD23, HD24, HD26, HD27, HD28, and HD76
HD15 is currently held by the renowned white supremacist Steve Toth, who spearheaded the so-called anti-CRT bill in the Legislature last year, banning teachers from talking about Fredrick Douglas or calling the KKK immoral.
Challenging Toth in the Republican primary is Maris Blair, who says on her website she’s thankful that the Legislature passed the CRT bill, making sure that teachers had to teach opposing views of the Holocaust. Otherwise, her platform is nearly a mirrored image of Toth’s. There’s no way to tell them apart from other than gender.
The Democrat running for this seat is Kristin Johnson, an educator who stands up for the marginalized in our society. Johnson is a strong candidate with a solid platform and, just like the rest of us, is outraged by the Republican’s attack on education.
While I’m calling this race probably Republican, I think Johnson has a good shot of making some headway in this district. While a large majority of the Republican Party supports white supremacy, not all of them do. Some moderate Republicans may sustain from voting or voting for Johnson if they know Toth’s push for white power in the House. Two, a 10 point boost from the Beto effect could give this campaign the number it needs to flip this seat. We’ll have to wait and see.
Incumbent Joe Deshotel (D) is retiring, leaving this seat open. There is one Republican and three Democrats running for this district. The Republican, Jacorion Randle, is a Black Republican, which is always uncomfortable. Democrats are Christian “Manuel” Hayes, Joseph Paul Trahan, and Lisa Weber.
I was unable to find a website or any social media for Hayes. Trahan is the former Jefferson County Democratic Chair. And Weber is a retired educator. I’m predicting that Trahan will win both the primary and the general election in this likely Democrat seat because he was the County Chair. He is most well known in the community.
Mayes Middleton is running for the Texas Senate, Incumbent millionaire, leaving this seat open. There are four Republicans and one Democrat running for this district.
The Republicans running for this seat are Patrick Gurski, Abel Longoria, Gina Smith, and Teresa Leo-Wilson. Gurski is a Galveston Republican running on securing the border and stopping CRT. Longoria is running on the same platform. So is Smith and Leo-Wilson. It’s funny because they are nearly identical if you put all four of their platforms side-by-side. I’m not predicting the Republican primary in this district because there isn’t anything special about any of these GOP candidates, and they’re all the same.
The Democrat running for this seat is Keith Henry. Henry is a Texas City Commissioner and has a history of community activism and fighting for equitable opportunities. I sometimes talk about campaigns or candidates needing that “it factor” to win a slanted race. I believe Henry has it. He is well known in the community, his history aligns with his platform, and even though this seat is probably Republican, I think Henry can flip it with an active and hard-fought campaign. That’s why Living Blue in Texas is endorsing ⭐ Keith Henry for HD23.
Greg Bonnen (R), the incumbent, is running for re-election. This is a likely Republican seat, and any Democrat running will have an uphill battle. The Democrat challenging Bonnen is Michael Creedon, a veteran with a robust platform focusing on infrastructure, flood control, and education. Because this district is so severely gerrymandered, for Creedon to win in November, he’ll have to knock on every door and have campaign events every week.
We’ll reach out to him for an interview with our Meet the Candidate series soon.
Incumbent Jacey Jetton (R) is seeking his second term in HD26. Jetton won his race in 2020 by 3 points against Democrat L. Sarah DeMerchant. I’m calling this race a toss-up because Jetton was a dud in his first session of Congress, the demographics of this district indicate it should be blue, and the previous races have been so close. Even with redistricting, Democrats have a good shot at this race.
Running against Jetton are two Democrats, Lawrence Allen Jr., and Daniel Lee. Allen is a third-generation educator, sits on the State Board of Education for nearly two decades, and is the son of Texas House District 131 member Alma Allen (D). Lee is a native Texan and Fort Bend County attorney.
I predict that Allen will win this primary because of his experience and name recognition. Living Blue in Texas is endorsing ⭐ Lawrence Allen Jr. for HD26. We believe that he will be a strong leader for this district.
And, while we’re on the topic, and because we planned on circling back to this race again, Living Blue in Texas is endorsing ⭐ Alma Allen for re-HD131. She has proven the leadership skills needed to fight for every Texan and their rights.
Ron Reynolds (D) is running for re-election and facing a primary and a general election challenger. The Democrat looking to unseat Reynolds is Rodrigo Carreon, who, as far as I can tell, doesn’t have a website or social media presence. So I predict that Reynolds will win the primary in this likely Democrat seat. The ironic thing is that the Republican challenger, Sohrab Gilani, doesn’t appear to have a website or social media either.
When someone is running for office, they should have a website at a bare minimum. How else will potential voters learn about who they are, their accomplishments, and what they stand for? I predict Reynolds will win re-election in November.
Millionaire Gary Gates (R) is arguably the wealthiest Texas House member. He’s spent years passing bills to enrich himself and grow his fortune. This is a likely Republican seat, which I predict Gates will win again based on the amount of money he regularly pours into winning his elections. His Republican challenger, Robert Boettcher, is a far-right extremist who moved from California to beat socialism. He won’t win the primary.
Gates’ Democratic challenger, Nelvin Adriatico, has a bi-cultural background and focus on community collaboration and engagement. His campaign appears to be solid, but he would have to put in a lot of work against Gates’ money to flip this seat. We’ll reach out to him for an interview on our Meet the Candidate series soon.
This district is a little confusing because it used to be an El Paso district. However, when Republicans redrew it, it became a southeast Texas district.
The incumbent of HD76, Claudia Ordaz Perez (D), was redrawn into Art Ferrino’s (D) District HD79, and the two of them will duke it out for that seat. As a result, newly drawn HD76 was left open to be fought over by four Democrats and three Republicans.
The Republicans running for this likely Democrat seat are Mike Khan, Ramesh Cherivirala, and Dan Mathews. Khan immigrated to this country, became a Republican, now he hates immigrants. Cherivirala doesn’t have a working website. And Mathews is running against the Biden administration. I predict that Mathews will win the Republican primary, based on his campaign’s effort, which exceeds his two GOP opponents.
As for the Democrat side of this race? The four Democrats running are James Burnett, L. Sarah DeMerchant, Vanesia R. Johnson, and Suleman Lalani.
Burnett has been an activist, community leader, and public servant for over a decade and has served as Chief of Staff in the Texas Young Democrats, Primary Administrator for the Fort Bend County Democratic Party, African American Outreach Organizer for the Beto for Texas campaign. DeMerchant ran against Jacey Jetton (R) in HD26 in 2020 and came within 3 points. Johnson is a social worker who has worked in the non-profit space. And Lalani is a physician who believes strongly in philanthropy and volunteer service.
All four Democrats in this primary are strong candidates, and this race will go to a runoff. So we’ll have to revisit it before the May runoff election.
Will Democrats win the Texas House?
Maybe. It’s going to take keeping all of the Democrat seats we already hold, winning the seats that are toss-ups, and flipping at least one probably Republican seat.
To see all of the predictions, go here.
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