Battleground 2020Elections 2020State HouseRep. Rhetta Bowers Faces Stiff Competition from Republican Will Douglas in North Texas

Eyes are on the purple House District 113, with Republican Will Douglas running a competitive race against Rep. Rhetta Bowers in her first bid for reelection.
October 21, 2020
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Of the Democratic incumbents in the Texas House being challenged on the ballot this fall, Will Douglas’ race against Rep. Rhetta Andrews Bowers (D-Rowlett) in House District (HD) 113 is expected to be among the most contentious.

HD 113 is made up of a sliver of precincts running along the eastern edge of Dallas County and is one of the state’s purple districts.

An analysis by The Texan found that Democrats running in a statewide race during the past two general elections received an average of 51 percent of the vote in HD 113. Republicans led in 2016 with a median vote of 52 percent, but it swung wide to Democrats in 2018 who led with 54 percent.

The seat was held by Republican Cindy Burkett until 2018 when Burkett resigned to run a primary challenge against state Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood).

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While Burkett won reelection in 2016 with 55 percent of the vote, the Republican nominee in 2018 lost to Bowers who won with 53 percent.

This year, the Democratic incumbent is facing stiff competition from Douglas, a young Dallas pharmacy owner whose campaign has been successful in fundraising, especially in comparison to other competitive challenges to incumbent Democrats.

As of the end of September, Douglas reported having over five times as much cash-on-hand as Bowers — $401,000 to $75,000.

Throughout the entire cycle, Douglas has raised $795,000 compared to Bowers’ $329,000. The margin was even wider in the last report, with Douglas raising $451,000 to Bowers’ $180,000.

A notable portion of Douglas’ funds from the latest report came as in-kind donations from two Republican groups: $101,000 from the Associated Republicans of Texas and $77,000 from the Republican State Leadership Committee.

Douglas also received $50,000 from the Protect our Police PAC, $15,000 from the Omega Pharmacy Group, and $5,000 from PharmPAC.

Bowers’ notable donations included $15,000 from the campaign of Rep. Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie) and $10,000 from the 67 United House Democratic Incumbent Fund.

She also received in-kind donations of $10,000 from the Texas Trial Lawyers Association PAC, $14,000 from the Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee, and $12,500 from the Lone Star Project for an “opposition research report.”

The Lone Star Project, a political group that targets Republicans, has accused Douglas of having “blind devotion to Donald Trump” and of renting a home in East Dallas in order to qualify to run in HD 113.

Bowers has faced her own share of criticism over comments directed toward Douglas, first reported by the Daily Caller.

“He’s said some things, and he continues to say some things, and he’s young enough, I don’t know if he’s young enough for me to be his mama but I felt like he needed a whoopin the other night, when he said some things,” said Bowers during a fundraising call with former presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke.

“And I awakened the next day feeling like, ‘that boy needs a whippin,’” she continued. “And so I’m ready to do that. And I know I can’t do that without you all.”

Douglas took to Facebook to post a video response saying, “my opponent referred to me as a ‘boy’ and that I needed a ‘whipping’ because I am a young Black Republican.”

“Unfortunately, this is what the modern Democratic Party is — this idea that if you don’t vote for a Democrat, that you ain’t Black; and that there’s not supposed to be any diversity of thought, and if you don’t stick to the Democratic dogma, you set yourself up for retribution — or in this case a ‘whipping,’” said Douglas.

Bowers reportedly said that her comments were in response to Douglas arguing that the Democratic Party has “adopted a victimhood culture that tells you that if you are a minority or if you’re a woman or, depending on who you love, then you’re a victim, and you can’t be successful.”

Like other competitive races in the state, police funding has been a central issue, with Douglas highlighting his support for the police and accusing Bowers of supporting movements to “defund the police.”

Early voting will continue for another week and a half before the official election day on Tuesday, November 3.

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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.