It's a refrain we've heard over and over, election cycle after election cycle, for much of the past decade: Democrats are aiming to turn Texas blue. And yet, the GOP stranglehold remains, albeit slightly weaker after 2018 Democrat gains of some seats in Congress and the state Legislature. That strong showing from last year, including Beto O'Rourke's very competitive race against Sen. Ted Cruz, has Democrats again dreaming big in the Lone Star State for 2020.
Texas Dems are still facing an uphill battle, for many reasons. Republicans maintain a strong voter registration advantage statewide; Democrats haven't won a statewide office in 25 years; unlike 2018, President Donald Trump will be on the ballot in 2020, in a state he won by eight points in 2016; and the state has done away with straight-ticket voting, which gave a huge boost to many down-ballot Democrats last year.
Still, Democrats are already eyeing more seats in Congress, the Legislature, and their biggest target---U.S. Senator John Cornyn. No fewer than four Democratic candidates have jumped in the race to challenge Cornyn, while former gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis recently announced a run against freshman Republican Congressman Chip Roy, who represents the Austin area.
Texas Republicans are taking note, after being caught somewhat flat-footed last year. Even Sen. Cornyn himself warned the GOP not to take Texas for granted. Republican strategist Vlad Davidiuk agrees that Dems are more confident, but also sees another motive. "A lot of Dems who are jumping into races don't necessarily think they have a good chance of winning, but they see that it's a good opportunity to raise their profile," he tells KTRH.
Davidiuk still believes Republicans are on solid ground in Texas, especially because so many Democratic candidates are only appealing to a far-left base. "Their supporters don't care necessarily about the record and ability of the candidate," he says. "All they want is someone who is willing to push forward the radical agenda that has proven to be a loser every single time."