The filing period for the 2022 primaries begins on Saturday; the local House delegation will undergo minor changes
The fight for control of Texas politics begins in earnest Saturday as residents begin to file their candidacies for the March party primaries.
After a redistribution process to protect incumbents and fortify Republican majorities, the 2022 midterm election is not expected to alter the balance of power within the Texas Legislature or its delegation to Congress.
But while seeking to bolster their majorities in the State House, Republicans have allowed Democrats to make minimal gains in specific areas, including north Texas. Often the scene of the battle to control Texas House, the Dallas area will find new faces in several legislative districts, and Democrats in Tarrant and Collin counties could win one seat each in their House delegations.
Collin County is on the verge of electing its first Democrat to the state house in modern history, but that is offset by a new county district favorable to a Republican candidate.
The deposit period ends on December 13.
While there will be some roster changes, local House races will be less dramatic than in the past, when Democrats seriously challenged Republicans for control of the legislature.
“They take care of each other but reduce the prospect of many changes,” said SMU political scientist Cal Jillson. “There are fewer transitional quarters than there were after the last redistribution process.”
The March primaries are designed for Republicans and Democrats to field candidates in the November general election. Both sides are unlikely to win on the other side’s field, and the lack of swing neighborhoods makes Texas one of the least competitive states in the country.
But chances are the status quo will be disrupted.
Local Democrats will try to oust Morgan Meyer from University Park in District 108 and Angie Chen Button of Garland in District 112, the last two members of the Dallas County GOP House. In the redistribution process, Republicans made the districts represented by Meyer and Button more Republicans, but that wasn’t enough to ensure that a strong Democratic Party candidate couldn’t get flustered.
“The places to watch in Dallas County will be in Districts 108 and 112,” said David de la Fuente, senior political analyst for the center-left group called Third Way. “Can Democrats field strong candidates for these seats?” “
While Dallas County policy is the status quo, there could be significant changes elsewhere.
Fighting in Tarrant County
Democrats will likely win a seat in the Tarrant County delegation at Texas House, but Republicans will retain a strong majority. The Democratic pickup will likely be in District 92, where the district represented by Republican Jeff Cason has been lured in favor of a Democrat. Cason is one of two House Republicans to vote against House Speaker Dade Phelan R-Beaumont.
At least two Democrats – former board member Euless Salman Bhojani and Tracy Scott – have announced protests against Cason.
If Democrats win District 92 in November, Republicans will still have a 7-4 majority in the delegation. Analysts say Cason was sacrificed by Republicans to bolster their majority in other sections of Tarrant County. In 2020, Democrats targeted five Tarrant County seats held by Republicans. They lost all those races.
State Representative Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie and Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, points out that in 2020, President Joe Biden won Tarrant County against former President Donald Trump. In 2018, former U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke defeated incumbent Republican Senator Ted Cruz in Tarrant County.
Turner said the political split in Tarrant County is expected to be five Republicans, five Democrats and one swing district.
“Republicans have drawn cards that continue to artificially inflate their numbers,” Turner said. “They did it by regrouping Democrats in four districts.”
Turner said Tarrant County’s demographics are changing rapidly, so it won’t be long before Democrats have the chance to topple some GOP districts.
“I still don’t think 92 is going to become a Democrat,” said Jeremy Bradford, political consultant and former executive director of the Tarrant County Republican Party. “Tarrant County will always be the largest Republican county in the country and the only urban Republican county in Texas. “
Bradford said the national climate was working against the Democrats. Biden’s approval rating is sagging, and earlier this month, Democrats lost the Virginia governor’s seat, perhaps the harbinger of a tough mid-season season.
“The three biggest Republican backers across the country are Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and Nancy Pelosi,” he said. “They are doing more to help Republicans get elected next year than anyone else.”
Tarrant County will also see a new representative to the seat occupied by Republican Matt Krause, who is running in the March primaries for attorney general. Republican candidates vying to replace Krause include Laura Hill and Cary Moon.
To make up for a potential loss in Tarrant County District 92, Republicans would have to win the Denton County seat now held by Democrat Michelle Beckley, who could fall victim to a redistribution.
New faces in Collin County
The Collin County delegation to the House will see at least two new faces. A Democrat has a shot at winning the drastically altered District 70 which is now owned by retired Republican Scott Sanford. Relocated more to the southern part of the county, the district saw Biden with a comfortable victory over Trump.
Some Democrats have already announced their candidacies, including Lorenzo Sanchez and Mihaela Plesa. In 2020, Republican Jeff Leach narrowly defeated Sanchez for re-election.
But nationwide winds could affect those races as well, so District 70 won’t automatically switch from Republican to Democrat. Republican Hayden Padgett is running to hold District 70 for the GOP.
“If the cycle turns bad for Democrats, a Republican could take that seat,” De la Fuente said.
Analysts say District 70 has been changed to help bolster the GOP seats held by Republicans Leach and Matt Shaheen, both of Plano. These districts tended to favor a Democratic candidate, although Leach and Shaheen had narrow wins in 2018 and 2020.
Republicans are also expected to win the new Collin County 61 district, where Frederick Frazier, McKinney’s board member and Dallas Police Union leader, runs in the GOP primary against Jim Herblin.
“Republicans will decimate Democrats in Collin County,” Shaheen said. “All Texans are witnessing a terrible border crisis, massive inflation, labor shortages, spikes in gas prices and ongoing national security concerns under Biden. More than ever, the citizens of Collin County understand that Democratic policies don’t work.
But Collin County Democratic Party Executive Director Debbie O’Reilly said Democrats would work hard to make gains against Republicans across the county.
“We reach out to every community in Collin County to fight for personal prosperity, public education and liberation from the radicalized right,” she said. “While we are working to find solutions to kitchen table problems, they are banning books and attacking cartoon characters.”