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National Democrats target 5 Texas GOP congressmen as 2020 cycle begins

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Friday debuted its first digital ad campaign of the 2020 election cycle — and no state is a bigger part of it than Texas.

The U.S. Capitol before President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address in front of Congress, on Capitol Hill…

*Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect a statement from the National Republican Congressional Committee.

National Democrats have five Texas Republican congressmen in their crosshairs as they begin the 2020 election cycle looking to build on their gains here in November.

As part of its first digital ad campaign of the cycle, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul of Austin, Chip Roy of Austin, Pete Olson of Sugar Land, Kenny Marchant of Coppell and John Carter of Round Rock. They are among 25 GOP House members across the country included in the ad offensive, which the DCCC announced Friday.

The ads criticize the lawmakers for voting against recent Democratic-backed legislation to end the government shutdown without funding for a border wall — a demand by President Donald Trump that prompted the closure. The ads, which come on the day that federal workers will miss their second paycheck under the shutdown, feature an image of a helicopter rescue mission over the water, accompanied by text reading, "The Coast Guard, Border Patrol, & [Transportation Security Administration] just missed another paycheck thanks to" the targeted member of Congress.

The DCCC said the ads "will be geo-targeted and featured on Facebook for swing voters," backed by a "significant" buy.

Perhaps more notable, however, is what the ad campaign says about how Democrats see the 2020 battlefield in Texas, where they flipped two seats in November, defeating Republican U.S. Reps. John Culberson of Houston and Pete Sessions of Dallas. The seats held by Roy, Olson and Carter were among the DCCC's Red to Blue targets last year in Texas, and each Republican won by less than 5 percentage points. Marchant and McCaul survived by similar margins in contests few had been watching nationally.

Of the 25 districts targeted by the digital ads, no state has more on the list than Texas.

The group does not include U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes, who represents a regular battleground district and repeatedly has broken with his party to cast votes to reopen the government without wall money. But Hurd is sure to be targeted again this cycle after winning a third term by 1,150 votes in November, and his Democratic opponent from then, Gina Ortiz Jones, has said she is "very likely" to run again.

Responding to the DCCC ad campaign, Republicans said Democrats were seeking to reassign blame for the state of the shutdown, which reached its 35th day Friday.

"[Speaker] Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats need to stop playing politics and start doing their jobs so federal workers can get paid and get back to work," Michael McAdams, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a statement. "Voters are seeing the extreme measures Pelosi is willing to take to please her radical caucus of Trump haters and won’t forget Democrats put political games before the nation’s security."

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