Elections 2020FederalNew Republicans to Fill All Open Congressional Seats in Texas

Seven U.S. House seats were left open in Texas — and all will be filled with Republicans.
November 5, 2020
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When six Republican congressmen announced their retirements last year, Democrats hailed it as a “Texodus” and an opportunity to bolster their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

But even with half of those seats in competitive districts, all six — plus the seat left open by John Ratcliffe’s appointment to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) — are set to be retained by new GOP candidates.

Competitive Congressional Districts

In Texas’ 22nd Congressional District, Fort Bend Sheriff Troy Nehls defeated Democrat Sri Preston Kulkarni by six points. Kulkarni lost to Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX-22) by fewer than five points in 2018.

Republican Tony Gonzales prevailed in Texas’ 23rd Congressional District, where he had been widely seen as the underdog against his Democratic opponent who had run a close race against Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX-23) in 2018.

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And in the last competitive seat of Texas’ 24th Congressional District, Republican Beth Van Duyne leads against Democrat Candace Valenzuela by 5,000 votes, though Valenzuela has not conceded the race.

Texas’ 4th Congressional District

State Sen. Pat Fallon (R-Prosper) will be filling the congressional seat left vacant by former Rep. John Ratcliffe’s confirmation to be the new DNI in the Trump administration.

Fallon won Tuesday’s election with 75 percent of the vote against Democrat Russell Foster.

Because Ratcliffe’s appointment came after the primary election in March, the GOP selected his replacement on the November ballot through a convention of county and precinct chairs in the district.

Over a dozen candidates campaigned for the seat.

At the August meeting in Sulphur Springs, Fallon won the nomination outright, receiving over half of the votes from local activists.

Prior to the meeting, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) met with many of the convention delegates and encouraged them to support Fallon.

Fallon’s election to the 4th Congressional District, which was expected given the strong Republican-leaning of the area, set a competition in motion for his North Texas state Senate seat.

In late August, Fallon submitted a letter of resignation to Gov. Greg Abbott with an effective date in January, and Abbott subsequently called for a special election on September 29.

Salon Á la Mode owner Shelley Luther and Rep. Drew Springer (R-Muenster), who Fallon endorsed and has campaigned for, entered a runoff election scheduled for Saturday, December 19.

With Fallon now formally set to join Congress at the beginning of January, the winner of the runoff election is sure to replace him in the state Senate around the same time.

Texas’ 11th Congressional District

August Pfluger won the solidly Republican West Texas district against Democrat Jon Mark Hogg on Tuesday with 80 percent of the vote.

The field of candidates in the Republican primary race to succeed retiring Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX-11) was crowded with 10 candidates, but Pfluger’s fundraising blitz at the start of his campaign last fall paid off.

In March, he won the primary outright with 52 percent of the vote.

At a candidate forum in January before the primary election, Pfluger said that one of his top priorities was securing the border.

“I for one didn’t spend 20 years in the Air Force fighting and being deployed overseas just to come home here and see a porous and insecure border,” Pfluger told The Texan.

During the forum, he said that he would not support agriculture subsidies “in a perfect world,” but said that he supported the farm bill as “a safety net because this is a national security level issue.”

Pfluger said that he supported term limits, was opposed to abortion in all instances, and saw Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX-02) as the current Texas congressman he would be most likely to emulate.

Texas’ 13th Congressional District

Ronny Jackson, a former White House physician under the past three presidents, will represent the country’s most Republican-leaning U.S. House district beginning in January.

Jackson defeated Democrat Gus Trujillo with 80 percent of the vote.

Like the other safely Republican open seats, the GOP primary in Texas’ 13th Congressional District had a large number of contenders — 15.

Jackson finished second in the March race with 20 percent of the vote, behind agricultural lobbyist Josh Winegarner, who received 39 percent.

Winegarner was backed by several Texas congressmen, including Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX-13), the current representative of the district who is retiring at the end of the term.

Meanwhile, Jackson had the support of President Donald Trump and was able to garner more votes in the July runoff election, winning against Winegarner by 12 points.

“I’m excited to be the next Congressman for TX-13 & I’m ready to get to work to fight for Texas agriculture, defend oil & gas, protect the unborn & get Texans back to work!” tweeted Jackson after his victory on Tuesday. “I’m honored for the opportunity to continue to serve my country. I promise I will make you proud!”

Texas’ 17th Congressional District

Pete Sessions will be returning to Congress in January, this time for Texas’ 17th Congressional District that covers Waco and College Station.

Sessions won the general election on Tuesday against Democrat Rick Kennedy with 56 percent of the vote.

Unlike the other newly elected congressional Republicans this year, Sessions already has seniority in the legislative body.

He was first elected to Congress in 1996 in the 5th Congressional District and then was reelected to the 32nd Congressional District after it was formed in 2002.

Sessions was reelected to the Dallas County seat for every term until 2018, when his Democratic challenger, Colin Allred, defeated him by a six-point margin.

Instead of running against Allred for his old seat, Sessions opted to move to Waco and run for the district left open by Rep. Bill Flores’ (R-TX-17) retirement.

Sessions led with 32 percent of the vote in the Republican primary, followed by Renee Swann who received 19 percent.

The runoff race between the two was fierce, but Sessions finished eight points ahead in July.

Before his loss to Allred in 2018, Sessions was the chairman of the House Rules Committee.

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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.