Elections 2022Campaigns for State Legislature Begin Launching Ahead of Redistricting

Before new maps are drawn, some challengers are beginning to launch campaigns for competitive state legislative districts across Texas.
August 10, 2021
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While redistricting has yet to happen thanks to the delayed release of data from the Census Bureau, races for state legislative seats that are in competitive areas of the state are already beginning to draw new candidates.

This is especially true in districts that Democrats gained during the surge of support they saw with Beto O’Rourke on the ballot in 2018, with six of the Republicans who challenged them in 2020 announcing that they will return in the next election.

Reps. Erin Zwiener (D-Driftwood), Vikki Goodwin (D-Austin), James Talarico (D-Round Rock), Michelle Beckley (D-Carrollton), Rhetta Bowers (D-Garland), and Jon Rosenthal (D-Houston) were all reelected in 2020 with less than 52 percent of the vote against Republican challengers and now GOP candidates have announced campaigns for each of those seats.

Candidates technically cannot file for an official position on the ballot until a short window later this year, which could be pushed to a further time because of the redistricting delays, but that does not prohibit them from launching campaigns.

The big variable that could affect the final list of candidates is how the maps are redrawn, but many of the competitive areas of the state are likely to remain competitive even after new boundaries are established.

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For instance, Zwiener’s House District (HD) 45 covers Hays and Blanco counties, which are sandwiched between the Austin and San Antonio metropolitan areas.

Since state House districts must follow the “county line rule” in the state constitution and keep whole counties together as often as practicable, the district covering those counties will likely continue to be competitive.

In districts that only cover portions of more populous counties and where redrawing lines will have a greater effect on the outcome of elections, GOP candidates are counting on redistricting to tilt the scales in their favor.

Republican candidates have announced campaigns for the following competitive districts that are currently held by Democrats:

  • HD 45: Blanco and Hays counties
    • Carrie Isaac, the Republican nominee in the district last year, launched her campaign for the seat again.
    • Zwiener, the incumbent, received 50.5 percent of the vote against Isaac’s 49.5 percent last year, winning with 1,208 votes.
  • HD 47: Travis County
    • Justin Berry, the Republican nominee in the district last year, launched his campaign for the seat again.
    • Goodwin, the incumbent, won in 2020 with 49.3 percent of the vote against Berry’s  48.3 percent. A third candidate, Libertarian Michael Clark, received 2.4 percent.
  • HD 52: Williamson County
    • Two Republicans from Round Rock have launched campaigns in the district, Caroline Harris and Nelson Jarrin.
    • Talarico, the incumbent, was reelected in 2020 against Republican challenger Lucio Valdez with 51.5 percent.
  • HD 65: Denton County
    • Kronda Thimesch, the Republican nominee in the district last year, launched her campaign for the seat again.
    • Instead of seeking reelection to the state district, Beckley recently announced a challenge to U.S. Rep. Beth Van Duyne (R-TX-24).
    • In 2020, Beckley received 51.5 percent of the vote against Thimesch’s 48.5 percent, winning with a margin of 2,373 votes.
  • HD 113: Dallas County
    • Will Douglas, the Republican nominee for the district in 2020, launched his campaign for the seat again.
    • Bowers, the incumbent, won reelection in 2020 with 51.8 percent against Douglas’s 48.2 percent with a margin of 2,433 votes.
  • HD 114: Dallas County
    • Luisa del Rosal, the Republican nominee in 2020, launched her campaign for the seat again.
    • Rep. John Turner (D-Dallas), the incumbent, announced that he would not be seeking reelection. Another Democrat, Elizabeth Ginsberg, has launched a bid for the seat in his stead.
    • In 2020, Turner received 53.65 percent of the vote against del Rosal’s 46.35 percent, winning with 5,828 votes.
  • HD 135: Harris County
    • Justin Ray, the Republican nominee for the district last year, launched his campaign for the seat again.
    • Rosenthal, the incumbent, won reelection in 2020 with 49.1 percent against Ray’s 48.7 percent by a margin of 300 votes. A third candidate, Libertarian Paul Bilyeu, received 2.3 percent or 1,703 votes.
  • Senate District (SD) 10: Tarrant County
    • Republican Warren Norred recently launched a campaign for SD 10.
    • The incumbent, Sen. Beverly Powell (D-Burleson), first won election in 2018 with 51.7 percent of the vote.
    • In 2020, statewide Republicans on the ballot received a median share of 48.7 percent of the vote against Democrats in the district.

Though several seats that Republicans held onto in 2020 were tight races, so far only two Democratic challengers have launched a campaign against GOP incumbents in competitive districts:

  • HD 92: Tarrant County
    • Democrat Dennis Sherrard launched a campaign for the district.
    • Rep. Jeff Cason (R-Bedford), the incumbent, was first elected last year with 50.9 percent of the vote against a Democrat who received 47.2 percent and a Libertarian who received 1.9 percent.
  • HD 108: Dallas County
    • Democrat Freda Heald launched a campaign for the district.
    • Rep. Morgan Meyer (R-Dallas), the incumbent, won reelection in 2020 with 49.7 percent of the vote against a Democrat who received 48 percent and a Libertarian who received 2.3 percent.

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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.