National Democrats add three more Texas congressional districts to target list

From left: The new targets of the House Democratic campaign arm are U.S. Reps. Van Taylor, R-Plano; Roger Williams, R-Austin; and Ron Wright, R-Arlington. Credit: United States Congress

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is adding three more districts to its Texas target list, expanding an already ambitious battlefield in the state.

The new targets of the House Democratic campaign arm are Republican Reps. Van Taylor of Plano, Roger Williams of Austin and Ron Wright of Arlington. The DCCC is now targeting 10 districts across Texas, or nearly half the GOP-held seats in the state's congressional delegation.

"Democrats are on offense across Texas, campaigning on access to quality, affordable health care and protections for those with pre-existing conditions," DCCC spokesperson Avery Jaffe said in a statement. "That consistent message and our 16-month long investment in Texas have put fast-changing districts like these ones in play and Democratic candidates in strong position to deliver in November."

Taylor, Williams and Wright all won their races in 2018 by margins ranging from 8 to 10 percentage points. However, Beto O'Rourke, that year's Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, came closer in each district, giving some Democrats hope that they could come into play this fall with the right candidates and environment.

Taylor is being challenged by Plano lawyer Lulu Seikaly, Wright by Waxahachie attorney Stephen Daniel and Williams by Julie Oliver, who was the 2018 nominee against him and lost by 9 points.

The DCCC's interest in the races has not been a secret. The committee polled in at least two of them earlier this summer, finding single-digit leads for the Republican incumbents — and dramatic swings in the presidential race in favor of the Democratic nominee, Joe Biden.

Still, the Democrats face an uphill battle. Taylor and Williams have large cash-on-hand advantages, and Taylor has demonstrated significant self-funding capacity. And while Wright is a weak fundraiser, he has the support of the deep-pocketed Club for Growth, which backed him in 2018 and endorsed him for reelection last week, calling him the "right candidate to represent the district and beat his radical liberal challenger, Stephen Daniel."

Before Wednesday, the seven seats that the DCCC had on its Texas target list were those of Rep. John Carter of Round Rock, Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Houston, retiring Rep. Will Hurd of Helotes, retiring Rep. Kenny Marchant of Coppell, Rep. Michael McCaul of Austin, Rep. Chip Roy of Austin and retiring Rep. Pete Olson of Sugar Land. The DCCC has named five candidates across those seven races to its Red to Blue program for strong contenders.

The DCCC also has to defend the the two Texas seats that Democrats flipped in 2018 — the ones held by Reps. Colin Allred of Dallas and Lizzie Pannill Fletcher of Houston.

Republicans have been dismissive of the DCCC's Texas ambitions throughout the cycle. The National Republican Congressional Committee has argued that the Democratic candidates are too liberal for Texas and that the GOP is the party on offense with strong challengers against Allred and Fletcher.