The midterm elections produced the first sign of life in the Texas Democratic Party in a long time, with Beto O’Rourke nearly pulling off an upset in the U.S. Senate race and the party picking up a few House seats in the Houston and Dallas suburbs, not to mention a slew of downballot seats. Republicans are worried there’s more where that came from.
Several House Republicans from Texas sounded the alarm in a Politico story on Monday, including Rep. Will Hurd, who’s quickly becoming an avatar for the skeletal remains of the GOP’s moderate wing. Hurd, who announced his retirement earlier this month, is the GOP’s only black member of the House. (The party’s only black senator, Tim Scott, also announced last week that his run in 2022 would be his last run for political office.)
“If the Republican Party in Texas doesn’t start looking like Texas, there won’t be a Republican Party in Texas,” Hurd told Politico, adding that last year was a “wake-up call” that “Texas is indeed purple.” Democrats are banking on that, and have been making some noise that they’re aiming to flip the Texas House, an even bigger prize than usual because of redistricting in 2021.
“Republicans need to be very concerned about Texas,” Rep. Brian Babin told Politico. “Texas is definitely in play. We need to take this very, very seriously.”
Texas has been the grand prize of the “demographics are destiny” argument for years, with little evidence so far to prove it. But while Democrats haven’t won a statewide race in Texas in two decades, the state’s red bent is exaggerated by gerrymandering at the congressional and legislative levels; last year, Democrats won 47 percent of the total House votes in Texas, but just 36 percent of the seats. And as Politico notes, Latinx people are expected to be the state’s largest population by 2022.
Ahead of this possible wipeout, several Texas Republicans are seeing the potential writing on the wall and getting out with some dignity left. In addition to Hurd, who won his race by less than a thousand votes last year, Republican Reps. Kenny Marchant and Pete Olson—who both saw their margins of victory cut drastically last year—are retiring as well.
Even if Texas doesn’t go blue in 2020, however, it’s possible that the sun has set on the Texas GOP’s better days. And considering what that’s given us—George W. Bush, Ted Cruz, John Cornyn, Dan Patrick, Rick Perry, and a whole slew of maniacs in the House—that would be amazing news for the rest of the country.