With the end of the 86th Legislature, a shift has occurred with political parties already looking toward the 2020 elections.
Those results could either re-solidify the Republican Party’s hold on the Texas legislature or continue the Democrat wave of 2018 in which they picked up 12 state House seats and removed the GOP’s “supermajority status” from the state Senate with gains in suburban districts.
Key battleground districts will be targeted heavily by both sides.
One such battleground is House District 47.
With a population of over 175,000, this district sits within the western part of Travis County and includes the cities of Bee Cave and Lakeway. It flipped from red to blue in 2018 when challenger Vikki Goodwin (D-Austin) defeated eight-year Republican incumbent Paul Workman by just over 5,000 votes.
She was one of many Democrats who benefited from former Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s high-profile and exorbitant U.S. Senate campaign. She is a real estate broker and owner of Goodwin & Goodwin Real Estate Inc.
Currently, Rep. Goodwin has almost $50,000 cash on hand as of the mid-January reporting deadline and will await the winner of what is becoming a crowded Republican primary. So far, four candidates have announced runs on the GOP side: Aaron Reitz; Jennifer Fleck; Jenny Roan Forgey; and Donald Zimmerman.
Aaron Reitz is a former Marine and lawyer who clerked for Texas Supreme Court Justice Jimmy Blacklock. He appeared on The Texan podcast this week to discuss the race and the campaign issues he plans to run on.
Jennifer Fleck is an attorney who has been practicing in Texas since 2001.
Jenny Roan Forgey is a lawyer and former Capitol Hill staffer who announced the run in mid-April.
Donald Zimmerman is a former Austin city councilman who developed a reputation as a Republican firebrand amid a very progressive body. He announced his run late last month.
Each candidate has filed a committee with the Texas Ethics Commission, but none have been established long enough to file finance reports.
The next filing deadline is the semiannual on July 15, 2019.
House District 47 is predominately middle to upper-class economically. The district is 75 percent white, two percent black, and 14 percent Hispanic. A third of the district falls into the $100,000 to $199,999 income category with 25 percent between $50,000 and $99,999, while over 21 percent fall in the three categories below that.
Meanwhile, 20 percent earn $200,000 and above. And over 60 percent of HD 47’s population has a bachelor’s degree or higher, with almost 36 percent possessing a high school diploma and/or some college.
The district turned decidedly blue in 2018.
In addition to Goodwin’s victory over Workman, Beto O’Rourke topped Sen. Ted Cruz by ten points in this district. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick lost the district by almost six points and Attorney General Ken Paxton by almost nine points. Whereas Comptroller Glenn Hegar eeked out a one-point victory in the district and George P. Bush won by two points.
Governor Greg Abbott won the district by five points.
Paul Workman won the seat in 2016 by a 12-point margin. That year, then-candidate Trump squeaked out a win in the district by under 200 votes.
Two years prior, Sen. Cornyn delivered a 23-point win while other state-wides won handily (albeit, not by as much as Cornyn). Abbott won the district by 13.5 percent while Patrick won it by 12 and Paxton by almost 15.
The district has gradually become more purple, but it’s unclear whether 2018 was the culmination of a trend or simply an anomaly.
The Texan looks forward to tracking this race closely as part of our “Battleground 2020” coverage.
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Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad watching and quoting Monty Python productions.