Fort Worth state Reps. Nicole Collier, a Democrat, and Matt Krause, a Republican, sat down with The Texas Tribune’s CEO, Evan Smith, to discuss the 2018 elections and how the national political environment is filtering down to the state.

Blue wave? Democratic primary voter turnout nearly doubled from 2014 to 2018. While Republicans still outvoted Democrats in the state, the increasing numbers were still something to be optimistic about, Collier said. She added the numbers show that the Democratic Party is effectively “building the base.”

“Just imagine what we’re going to do in November,” Collier said. “Be afraid. Be very afraid, Republicans. We’re coming for those seats.”

Republicans are taking the Democratic turnout seriously – even Gov. Greg Abbott, who’s a “shoo-in,” Krause said.

The Texas Tribune thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“You’re either running unopposed, or you’re scared,” he said, describing the way incumbents feel during election time.

But the increased Democratic primary turnout isn’t what it seems, Krause said. He credited the bump largely to people who consistently vote Democratic showing up to the polls in the primaries when they usually only vote in November. He said the increase has more to do with a difference in time rather than a “blue wave” of new liberal voters.

Competition in the upcoming elections. As a whole, this election season seems a bit more competitive, Collier said. She pointed to the increased number of Democrats on the ballot.

This doesn’t mean the races for legislative seats are a free-for-all. Gerrymandering and the state’s low voter turnout mean most of the seats are already expected to be safe in Republican or Democratic hands. But both lawmakers agreed that some races could be affected by the national political environment.  

President Donald Trump might have something to do with that, Krause said.

“Historically, off-year gubernatorial elections usually favor Republicans. … This time, I think it favors Democrats, ” Krause said. “So I do think there are components that Trump has brought to the presidency that makes it more difficult on Republicans.”

The Texas Tribune thanks its sponsors. Become one.

President Trump’s effect on Texas elections. Collier said Trump’s presidency largely helps Democrats’ odds. She said she thinks Trump “brings out the worst in America,” but has helped mobilize voters.

“I’m glad Trump is doing all this because then we can get the right people elected,” Collier said.

Meanwhile, Krause seemed to be a bit more split on how the presidency will impact the outcomes in November.

If Republicans go to the polls thinking about some of Trump’s policies, like the GOP tax bill, then the president may provide a bump to conservative candidates in the state, Krause said.

“But if it’s about the last tweet that he had, then I might be in trouble,” he said.

Either way, Krause said, Trump is having an impact on the elections. He said he feels like the president fires up the Republican base but also alienates more moderate voters.