There are Democratic candidates running in all of the state’s 36 congressional districts for the first time in 25 years. Democrats know they won’t be competitive in every congressional district, but they have their sights set on the three they believe they have the best shot at winning — the Seventh Congressional District in Houston against incumbent Rep. John Culberson, the 23rd Congressional District outside San Antonio against incumbent Rep. Will Hurd, and the 32nd Congressional District in Dallas against incumbent Rep. Pete Sessions.
There were signs before 2018 that these three districts could be shifting blue; namely, the fact that Hillary Clinton carried all three by a couple of points in the 2016 election.
There’s a popular Democratic Congress member, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, challenging (and out-fundraising) Sen. Ted Cruz in the race for US Senate. And though Democrats are facing tremendously steep odds in the governor’s race against incumbent Greg Abbott, they are still trying, with two strong candidates leading a pack of nine candidates.
Democrats are also fielding candidates in three more Texas congressional districts they see as more of a long shot but still in play: the Second, 21st, and 31st.
“We’re definitely seeing unbridled enthusiasm among Democrats,” said Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston.
To be sure, competing seriously in Texas is still a long shot for Democrats. Sessions and Culberson, in particular, are formidable incumbents who have been in office since the early 2000s. But the fact that there are fields of seven Democratic candidates lining up to challenge each one is notable in a state where those primary fields were empty just two years ago.
In what has a good chance to be a wave election, it’s worth doing. You never know where you might win, and they’ve pulled off longer shots in special elections since Trump won.