As election day nears, the Texas Democratic primary runoff between Laura Moser and Lizzie Pannill Fletcher continues to attract national attention from both the party and pundits.
Since 2001, Texas' 7th congressional district has been represented by U.S. Rep. John Culberson. This year, Democrats saw an opening to unseat the incumbent. They cited Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential election vote total eclipsing now-President Donald Trump's tally in the Houston-area district, though Trump won Texas and the presidency.
Fletcher and Moser finished first and second, respectively, in the March 6 primary, in a field of seven Democrats. Fletcher, a business attorney and community activist, won about 1,650 more votes than Moser. Moser is a Houston journalist behind "Daily Action," a text message service launched in the weeks after Trump's election to connect people with their representatives in Congress.
Neither candidate has ever run for office before, but that didn't stop the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee – the group tasked with electing Democrats to the U.S. House – from posting opposition research on Moser before the primary. Some Democrats locally and nationally worry that Moser is too liberal to unseat Culberson in the general election.
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Moser said that if anything, the unexpected attention days before the primary helped get her into the runoff. Fletcher doesn't feel it had much of an effect on the outcome, because she said the timing of the DCCC's entry coincided with when the candidates started putting out their paid media.
Moser has stayed in the headlines with news that her campaign unionized, guaranteeing them certain benefits. She has won the endorsements of the local and state arms of the AFL-CIO. Fletcher said she offers her staff competitive salaries, paid sick leave and a health care stipend, but isn't against them unionizing.
In the latest edition of our Split Decision campaign debate series, watch the candidates discuss what prompted them to run for office and why they say they can unseat Culberson. The pair even tries their hand at drawing CD-7.