Texas Elections 2018

Democratic super PAC injects $2.2 million into Texas House races in closing days

The investment by Forward Majority reflects Democratic optimism about significantly expanding their ranks in the Texas House come Tuesday.

View of the Texas House floor during the budget debate on House Bill 1 on May 29, 2015.
View of the Texas House floor during the budget debate on House Bill 1 on May 29, 2015.  Bob Daemmrich
Texas Elections 2018

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*Clarification appended

A Democratic super PAC focused on state legislative races has injected $2.2 million into a slew of Texas House contests in their closing days.

The group, Forward Majority, is using the money to help 32 Democratic candidates, many of them challengers in GOP-held districts who have not been able to match the financial backing of the incumbents. A large majority of the funds are going toward digital ads targeting the Republicans as beholden to big donors and corporate interests, with a couple of spots tailored to specific lawmakers.

"We are staging this late intervention because we believe there is a unique window of opportunity for first time candidates to take down several entrenched Republican incumbents on Tuesday," said Ben Wexler-Waite, a spokesman for Forward Majority.

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Democrats currently control 55 seats in the 150-member House, meaning they would need to pick up 21 seats on Tuesday to capture the majority. Very few are predicting the House could flip, but Forward Majority's investment nonetheless reflects Democratic optimism about significantly expanding their ranks in the lower chamber come Tuesday.

Forward Majority was launched last year by alumni of Barack Obama's campaigns with the goal of retaking state legislatures across the country before the next round of redistricting in 2021. Texas is one of six states the group is targeting this cycle as part of a nearly $9 million push.

In Texas, Forward Majority began seriously spending in its targeted races just a couple weeks ago. Its latest filing with the Texas Ethics Commission, which covered Sept. 28 through Oct. 27, shows the group spent $1.1 million. The rest of the $2.2 million has come since then, Wexler-Waite said.

Forward Majority is not the only seven-figure force for Democrats in Texas House races this cycle. The House Democratic Campaign Committee has raised $1.1 million this cycle, fueled by six-figure donations from the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, the group led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. The HDCC is currently waging an $800,000 digital ad campaign in the most competitive seats.

The races that Forward Majority is targeting include:

  • HD-14: State Rep. John Raney, R-College Station, is being challenged by Democrat Josh Wilkinson.
  • HD-23: Republican Mayes Middleton and Democrat Amanda Jamrok are running for the seat being vacated by defeated state Rep. Wayne Faircloth, R-Galveston.
  • HD-26: State Rep. Rick Miller, R-Sugar Land, faces Democratic challenger L. Sarah DeMerchant.
  • HD-28: State Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, faces a Democratic challenge from Meghan Scoggins.
  • HD-45: Republican Ken Strange and Democrat Erin Zwiener are vying to replace outgoing state Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs.
  • HD-47: Democrat Vikki Goodwin is running against state Rep. Paul Workman, R-Austin.
  • HD-52: Republican Cynthia Flores and Democrat James Talarico are competing to replace ex-state Rep. Larry Gonzales, R-Round Rock.
  • HD-54: Republican Brad Buckley and Democrat Kathy Richerson are running for the seat being left open by defeated state Rep. Scott Cosper, R-Killeen.
  • HD-64: Democrat Andrew Morris running to unseat state Rep. Lynn Stucky, R-Denton.
  • HD-65: State Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton, is being challenged by Democrat Michelle Beckley.
  • HD-66: Democrat Sharon Hirsch is challenging state Rep. Matt Shaheen, R-Plano.
  • HD-67: State Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, faces a challenge from Democrat Sarah Depew.
  • HD-85: Democrat Jennifer Cantu is challenging state Rep. Phil Stephenson, R-Wharton.
  • HD-92: State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, is being opposed by Democrat Steve Riddell.
  • HD-93: Democrat Nancy Bean is running to unseat state Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth.
  • HD-94: Democrat Finnigan Jones is challenging state Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington.
  • HD-96: State Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, faces a Democratic challenge from Ryan Ray.
  • HD-97: Democrat Beth Llewellyn McLaughlin is running against state Rep. Craig Goldman, R-Fort Worth.
  • HD-121: Republican Steve Allison and Democrat Celina Montoya are running for the seat being left open by retiring House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio
  • HD-126: Republican Sam Harless and Democrat Natali Hurtado are vying to replace outgoing state Rep. Kevin Roberts, R-Houston.
  • HD-129: State Rep. Dennis Paul, R-Houston, is being opposed by Democrat Alexander Karjeker.
  • HD-132: Democrat Gina Calanni is running against state Rep. Mike Schofield, R-Katy.
  • HD-133: Democrat Martin Schexnayder is challenging state Rep. Jim Murphy, R-Houston.
  • HD-135: State Rep. Gary Elkins, R-Houston, is being challenged by Democrat Jon Rosenthal.
  • HD-105: Democrat Terry Meza is challenging state Rep. Rodney Anderson, R-Grand Prairie.
  • HD-108: State Rep. Morgan Meyer, R-Dallas, is being challenged by Democrat Joanna Cattanach.
  • HD-112: Democrat Brandy Chambers is running to unseat state Rep. Angie Chen Button, R-Richardson.
  • HD-113: Democrat Rhetta Bowers and Republican Jonathan Boos are vying to replace outgoing state Rep. Cindy Burkett, R-Sunnyvale.
  • HD-134: Democrat Allison Sawyer is challenging state Rep. Sarah Davis, R-West University Place.
  • HD-136: Democrat John Bucy is running to unseat state Rep. Tony Dale, R-Cedar Park.
  • HD-138: State Rep. Dwayne Bohac, R-Houston, is being opposed by Democrat Adam Milasincic.

Disclosure: Paul Workman has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

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Clarification: Forward Majority initially provided an incorrect figure regarding the number of candidates the group is helping. It is helping 32 candidates.