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Battleground 2020Elections 2020FederalTexas’ 7th Congressional District: Historical Breakdown of a Modern Swing District

Rep. Lizzie Fletcher is the first Democrat in over fifty years to represent Texas' 7th Congressional District. Here's a history of the district and an overview of a key battleground race.
December 27, 2019

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Located within a portion of Harris County, Texas’ 7th Congressional District is one of the two districts in Texas that is currently held by a Democrat but leans Republican according to the Cook Partisan Voting Index, which rates the district at R+7.

In the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney carried the district with 59.9 percent of the vote compared to President Barack Obama’s 38.6 percent.

Four years later, Hillary Clinton received slightly more than Donald Trump, with the two candidates receiving 48.2 and 46.8 percent, respectively.

In 2018, Lizzie Fletcher (D) won against a 9-term Republican incumbent, Rep. John Culberson, with a five-point margin of victory.

The Texan Mug

The congressional district is one of the oldest in the state and consequently has shifted locations several times through redistricting.

It was created after the 1880 census and was originally located in the southern part of the state. Beginning in Galveston, it wrapped down along the coast and then up along the Texas-Mexico border.

Thomas Ochiltree

The first person elected to represent the district, Thomas Peck Ochiltree, was an independent and a former Texas Ranger, soldier in the Confederate Army, and newspaper editor.

Ochiltree only served one term and was succeeded by William H. Crain, a Democrat who held the seat until it was redistricted in 1892.

The redistricting after the 1890 census shifted the 7th Congressional District into the central part of the state to include Waco.

It was moved again 10 years later, this time a little further east.

For the next several decades, the district remained in generally the same region north of Houston.

During that entire time, eight congressmen filled the seat. All were Democrats.

But in 1966, it was redistricted again and moved into Harris County. Since then, the district has remained in the same county, though its size has changed with the population growth of the Houston area.

George H. W. Bush, who had been the Republican nominee in 1964 for the U.S. Senate race in Texas, ran for the open seat and won with 57 percent of the vote.

Bush served for two terms before retiring to attempt another run for the Senate.

Following Bush, two other Republicans served in the seat for almost the next fifty years: Bill Archer (1971-2001) and John Culberson (2001-2019).

Rep. Lizzie Fletcher began her term at the beginning of the year after defeating Culberson in the 2018 general election with 52.5 percent of the vote.

Several Republicans are seeking to win the seat back for their party in 2020 and have filed to be on the ballot for the primary election on March 3, 2020:

Maria Espinoza, Tom DeVor, Wesley Hunt, Jim Noteware, Kyle Preston, Laique Rehman, and Cindy Siegel.

Hunt, a former Army pilot, is the frontrunner in the race, having raised close to $1 million — the closest out of any Republican candidate in the race to Fletcher’s $1.8 million.

Hunt has also received the endorsements of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Harris County Commissioner Jack Cagle (R, Precinct 4), and FreedomWorks, a conservative advocacy group.

Siegel, the former mayor of Bellaire, has raised about $330,000.

Fletcher has no Democratic challengers and has received the endorsements of several liberal organizations including the Human Rights Campaign, EMILY’s List, and Planned Parenthood.

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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.