Battleground 2020Elections 2020State HouseState SenateLatest Financial Reports Signal Fierce Competition for Open Texas House Seats

Here’s a look at the latest financial reports in the most competitive state legislative races on the ballot this November.
October 6, 2020
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In 2016, Democrats won five additional seats in the Texas House of Representatives, bringing their chamber membership to 55. Two years later, they won 12 more seats, bringing their total to 67.

Now, just nine seats away from a controlling majority of the chamber, Democrats are aiming to defeat Republicans in a handful of open races as well as pose serious challenges to several GOP incumbents.

Candidates competing in state legislative races filed their latest financial reports with the Texas Ethics Commission (TEC) on Monday, a month ahead of the general election.

The fundraising numbers show that while Democrats may be making significant inroads in competitive Republican-controlled districts, some GOP candidates are also outperforming some Democratic incumbents.

Open Seats

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According to recently updated ratings from Rice University political scientist Mark P. Jones, there are four competitive open house seats during this cycle, each currently held by a Republican.

Two are labeled as “lean Republican” — districts 96 and 26 — and two are labeled as a “toss up” — districts 92 and 138.

Based on the TEC filings, House District (HD) 96 is the most safely Republican out of the four, where Republican David Cook outraised Democrat Joe Drago with $410,000 compared to $321,000, respectively.

Cook also reported having more cash-on-hand as of September 24, with $371,000 compared to Drago’s $202,000.

In HD 26, Democrat L. Sarah DeMerchant outraised Republican Jacey Jetton with $375,000 compared to $296,000, but Jetton ended the filing period with about $2,000 more cash-on-hand.

Fundraising in the other two competitive open seats was even more beneficial for the Democrats.

Akilah Bacy in HD 138 outraised Republican Lacey Hull with $631,000 compared to $278,000. Bacy also reported $354,000 cash-on-hand compared to Hull’s $85,000.

However, the cash-on-hand in HD 92 was even more disproportionate, with Democrat Jeff Whitfield reporting $236,000, while Republican Jeff Cason reported just a little over $1,000.

Cason raised $219,000 during the period and Whitfield raised $363,000.

A more detailed breakdown of the race can be found here.

Republican Incumbents

Several current GOP representatives seeking reelection are facing competitive races against Democratic opponents who outraised them.

In HD 66, for example, Rep. Matt Shaheen (R-Plano) was outraised by Democrat Sharon Hirsch by $164,000.

Shaheen raised $254,000 and reported $302,000 cash-on-hand, while Hirsch raised $418,000 and reported $324,000 on hand.

HD 66 is rated as a toss up by Jones.

Other GOP incumbents in competitive races who were outraised by their opponents include Reps. Jeff Leach (R-Plano) in HD 67 and Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth) in HD 93.

Leach was outraised by $161,000, and Krause was outraised by $25,000.

However, Leach reported $252,000 more cash-on-hand than his opponent, and Krause reported $317,000 more.

Rep. Angie Chen Button (R-Garland) of HD 112 was outraised by $21,000 but reported $737,000 more cash-on-hand than Democratic opponent Brandy Chambers.

Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place) raised $128,000 more than HD 134 Democrat challenger Ann Johnson, but Johnson reported about $15,000 more on hand.

HD 108 Rep. Morgan Meyer (R-Dallas) and HD 54 Rep. Brad Buckley (R-Killeen) fared better against their opponents, raising $103,000 and $100,000 more, respectively.

Both Meyer and Buckley reported substantially more cash-on-hand than their opponents as well.

In the most competitive state senate race, Republican incumbent Sen. Pete Flores (R-Pleasanton) outraised his opponent, Roland Gutierrez, by $429,000 and reported $451,000 more on hand.

Democratic Incumbents

Several Republican challengers also managed to outraise Democratic opponents.

Most notably, Republican Will Douglas raised $271,000 more than HD 113 Rep. Rhetta Bowers (D-Rowlett), and Douglas ended the period with $327,000 more cash-on-hand.

Republican Kronda Thimesch in HD 65 also managed to outraise a Democratic opponent and end the period with more cash-on-hand.

Thimesch reported outraising Rep. Michelle Beckley (D-Carrollton) by $68,000 and ended the period with $22,000 more cash-on-hand.

Another group of Democratic incumbents were outraised by their Republican opponents, but still reported more cash-on-hand:

  • Rep. Vikki Goodwin (D-Austin) of HD 45 was outraised by Justin Berry by $311,000, but reported $126,000 more on hand.
  • Rep. John Turner (D-Dallas) of HD 114 was outraised by Luisa del Rosal by $234,000, but reported $189,000 more on hand.
  • Rep. Jon Rosenthal (D-Houston) of HD 135 was outraised by Justin Ray by $212,000, but reported $58,000 more on hand.
  • Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos (D-Richardson) of HD 102 was outraised by Linda Koop by $122,000, but reported $47,000 more on hand.
  • Rep. James Talarico (D-Round Rock) of HD 52 was outraised by Lucio Valdez by $10,000, but reported $172,000 more on hand.

Other competitive races with Democratic incumbents, such as in HD 45 with Rep. Erin Zwiener (D-Driftwood) and in HD 132 with Rep. Gina Calanni (D-Katy), resulted in the representatives outraising their Republican opponents and reporting more cash-on-hand.

A detailed breakdown of the most recent financial filings can be found on The Texan’s War Room.

The next financial reports from candidates are due to the TEC on October 26.

Early voting begins on Tuesday, October 13.

Disclosure: Unlike almost every other media outlet, The Texan is not beholden to any special interests, does not apply for any type of state or federal funding, and relies exclusively on its readers for financial support. If you’d like to become one of the people we’re financially accountable to, click here to subscribe.

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Daniel Friend

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.