John Culberson

In the West, an outsize role for Texas in the 2020 elections
Battles for Senate and numerous House seats will drive interest in Lone Star State

Sen. John Cornyn’s reelection and a handful of House seats where Republicans have retired make Texas one of the key states to watch next year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If there’s an abiding lesson from 2016, it’s that national public opinion in the presidential race is not as important as the votes of individual states. Republican Donald Trump won by taking 304 electoral votes to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s 227, even as Clinton beat him by 2.9 million votes and 2.1 percentage points nationally.

In 2020, Democrats will be looking to recapture states Trump won that went for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. And many of those states will also be prime battlegrounds in the fight for control of the Senate, where Democrats need a net gain of four seats to take a majority (three if they win the White House and the vice president can break 50-50 ties), while Republicans need a net gain of 19 seats to retake the House.

GOP poll finds close race for Democratic seat in Houston suburbs
Republican Wesley Hunt led Rep. Lizzie Fletcher by 2 points, survey found

Texas Republican Wesley Hunt is challenging Rep. Lizzie Fletcher in the Houston-area 7th District. (Nathan Ouellette/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Texas Rep. Lizzie Fletcher could be in for a tough reelection fight in 2020, according to a new Republican poll released Thursday. The survey gave GOP challenger Wesley Hunt, a former Army captain, a 2-point lead over the freshman Democrat in the Houston-area 7th District.

Some Republicans snubbed the many Dreamers in their districts
GOP lawmakers with sizable DACA constituencies voted against a bill to help them

Texas Rep. Kenny Marchant has about 14,300 people in his district who are eligible for a path to citizenship through the DACA program. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Most Republican representatives with a lot of beneficiaries of President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program lost their seats in November, among them Texas’ Pete Sessions and John Culberson and California’s David Valadao and Jeff Denham.

So there was pressure on those remaining when the House voted June 4 on HR 6 which would codify and expand Obama’s DACA program. Still, the bill, which offers a path to citizenship not only for those immigrants brought to the country illegally when they were children but also those already granted temporary protected status because of unsafe conditions in their homelands, drew only seven Republican votes in passing 237-187.

GOP super PAC ties 2 freshmen to Ocasio-Cortez in new digital ads
CLF knocks lawmakers over Green New Deal even though they aren’t co-sponsors

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., is featured in new digital ads from the Congressional Leadership Fund. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Republican super PAC is wasting no time tying vulnerable House Democrats to New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as it launches digital ads in two districts Monday. 

Congressional Leadership Fund, a group aligned with House GOP leadership, is targeting two freshman lawmakers, Antonio Delgado of New York and Colin Allred of Texas, in the new ads shared first with Roll Call. The ads are part of a five-figure digital buy.

Despite Campaign Finance Issues, Rep.-elect Ross Spano Staffs Capitol Hill Office
Former longtime staffer to Rep. John Culberson will fill role of chief of staff

Rep.-elect Ross Spano, R-Fla., announced his new staff today. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Florida Rep.-elect Ross Spano announced his senior staff Thursday, quieting concerns that the freshman Republican would not be able to fill his office amid looming legal questions about his campaign financing and reports that job candidates have been alarmed by the role of a controversial donor in the hiring process.

Spano faces bipartisan calls for inquiries by the Federal Election Commission and the House Ethics Committee into how he funded his campaign to replace Rep. Dennis A. Ross, who retired, in the 15th District.

Granger Selected as New Top Republican on House Appropriations
With Nita Lowey expected to chair, panel is set for historic all-female leadership duo

Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, is expected to be the ranking member on House Appropriations next Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Texas Rep. Kay Granger will likely take over as the House Republicans’ lead appropriator in January after the GOP Steering Committee recommended her on Thursday.

The full House GOP Conference is expected to ratify the decision Friday. While it’s possible the conference could overrule the Steering panel recommendation, conference approval is typically a formality.

Could Texas Be a 2020 House Battleground?
Some House races in the Lone Star State were closer than expected

Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, lost a Senate bid but came close to defeating GOP Sen. Ted Cruz. ((Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Texas Democrats had their best election in over a decade last week when they flipped at least two Republican-held House seats. But closer margins in other races have boosted party hopes of future gains in the once deep-red Lone Star State.

“What it shows us moving forward is that we have congressional battlegrounds in Texas,” said Manny Garcia, deputy executive director of the Texas Democratic Party. “As we move into the election cycle in 2020, it’s very clear now that Texas is in play.”

A Poor Election Night for Republicans in Clinton Districts
GOP-held seats that Clinton won in 2016 mostly swung to the Democrats this year

Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., represented a district Hillary Clinton won by 10 points in 2016. She lost her bid for a third term Tuesday night to Democrat Jennifer Wexton. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated Wednesday, 3:06 p.m. | Democrats have won a House majority, boosted by several key pickups of Republican-held districts that backed Hillary Clinton two years ago. 

The party needed a net of 23 seats to take over the chamber. 

DOJ Civil Rights Division to Monitor Polls in 35 Counties on Election Day
Arizona, Nevada, Florida, North Dakota, and Texas among 19 states where DOJ personnel will monitor polling places

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has deployed Civil Rights Division personnel to monitor polling locations in 35 counties in 19 different states on Election Day. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When Americans head to the polls on Tuesday for the midterm elections, voters in 35 counties — from Las Vegas to Dallas to Tampa — will head to precincts that are being closely monitored by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division for “compliance with the federal voting rights laws,” the DOJ announced Monday.

“Voting rights are constitutional rights, and they’re part of what it means to be an American,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

Messing With Texas, Midterm Edition
In the Lone Star State, it’s not just about Beto and Cruz

A woman flies a Texas flag at a 2005 rally in the Upper Senate Park. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Yes, the Texas Senate race between Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke gets a 72-ounce steak’s worth of attention in politics, what with Willie Nelson and President Donald Trump weighing in with their preferences and all. 

But regardless of who emerges from that Texas two-step, several other races will go a long way toward determining the House majority, and whether the Lone Star State might be moving toward swing/purple status.