Since Texas’ 24th Congressional District was first created after the 1970 census, only three congressmen have served in the seat: Dale Milford (D, 1973-1979), Martin Frost (D, 1979-2005), and Kenny Marchant (R, 2005-present).
The district is located in the northern center of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and includes parts of Tarrant, Denton, and Dallas counties.
In the 2002 election, Frost won with 64.7 percent of the vote.
After the 2003 Texas redistricting, the district went from being safely Democratic to safely Republican.
Since Frost’s home was moved into a different district, he decided to seek election in the 32nd Congressional District where he eventually lost to former Rep. Pete Sessions (R), who had also moved into the new district to run after the 2000 census.
With the open seat in TX-24 in 2004, Kenny Marchant, who had served as a state representative for nine terms, ran as the Republican nominee and won with 64 percent.
Today, the district is rated with a Cook Partisan Voting Index of R+9.
Donald Trump won the presidential election in the district by a margin of 6.2 percent in 2016, and Mitt Romney won in 2012 with a wide 22.4 percent.
In the 2016 general election, Marchant won against his Democratic opponent, Jan McDowell, by a 16.9 percent margin.
Two years later, Marchant and McDowell faced off again, and Marchant’s margin of victory dropped dramatically to 3.1 percent.
With Marchant’s retirement announcement in August, the race for his open seat is poised to be competitive.
Earlier this year, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) announced that TX-24 would be one of its targeted districts.
The DCCC also contends that the district’s decline in Republican votes between the past two presidential elections is a sign of vulnerability and suburban realignment.
To this point, they also see Beto O’Rourke’s 2018 U.S. Senate race performance in the district, in which he carried it with 51.3 percent of the vote, as indicative that the political makeup of TX-24 is changing.
However, other factors — such as mid-term election voter turnout or views on specific candidates — could have played a significant role in the results of recent elections.
In such a case, voters in the next election may not lean as Democratic as the DCCC would hope.
Nonetheless, the race for the seat is sure to draw a lot of attention — and money.
Olson, a retired Air Force colonel, raised $543,000 in contributions as of the end of the last Federal Election Commission (FEC) reporting period on September 30, 2019.
Candace Valenzuela, a Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD board member, has raised the next most out of the Democratic candidates with a total of $200,000.
Crystal Fletcher has raised $114,000, and McDowell has raised $57,000.
In the Republican primary, former Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne appears to be leading, having received a number of notable endorsements, including Reps. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX-2), John Ratcliffe (R-TX-4), Bill Flores (R-TX-13), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
Van Duyne has also raised $347,000, the most out of all Republican candidates so far.
In Politico’s recent forecast of the 2020 elections, Marchant’s district was one of only three Texas congressional districts considered to be a “toss-up.”
The election could very well be a toss-up given the narrow results in 2018, though what happens over the next year could greatly impact who turns out to vote and which party is in control of the seat come January 2021.
Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. While recently finishing his degree in Political Science from Azusa Pacific University, he also interned in the U.S. Senate and co-authored a book on C. S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy. In his spare time, he might be reading up on Dostoevsky or attempting to write a novel.