By Faith Chatham April 13, 2018
So refreshing to see the national pundits seeing Texas Democratic Nominees for Congress as Possible!. The first thing which makes it POSSIBLE is that for the first time EVERY DISTRICT will have a Democratic Nominee. You can't win if you don't run. This year folks are running and GOP incumbents without opposition will not look strong by default.
2. With numerous GOP incumbents resigning or not running for reelection, the incumbent advantage is not operative in a considerable number of districts!
3. For the first time in decades a significant number Democrats challenging GOP incumbents for Congressional seats reported raising $200K+ by Dec. 31 of 2017! Yikkes. Folks you cannot imagine how big that is. In Texas in 2014 the average non incumbent Democratic Nominee had less than a nickel per registered voter to spend in the Primary and General Election combined. This year there are several candidates who have funds to truly communicate with votes.
4. Candidates ran in contested primaries with other Democrats running from the top to the bottom of the ballot in contested primaries. This means that the media covered those races. When a candidate runs unopposed, they usually do not even get mentioned on voters guides. It is difficult enough to build name recognition, but if you aren't even mentioned during the primary, it is much more difficult to get enough before the end of the General. This year Democratic candidate ran in contested primaries and got some of the spotlight which previously only went to GOP nominees.
5. We have good candidates running. We've had good candidates running in previous years too. But this year we have MORE of them and they are raising money and many nay sayers are ceasing to spout off their old wet blanket lines which discourage volunteers and donors from stepping up to help Democratic Nominees Win!
6. A New York Times article mentions a few. However, we have many more which are exceptionally impressive. Some have run previously and have already build campaign organizations. Jan McDowell is one who should be watched carefully. She may continue to astound folks with her low key, grassroots, persistent, solid reasoning and well managed campaign. In districts which are exceptionally difficult for Democrats like East Texas, Shirley McKellar is not running as the lone candidate this year on many of the ballots. It is difficult to win if you are the only candidate of your party running in that region except for the top of the ticket. Retired Army officer McKellar persistently builds her organization and base. Each year she draws more supporters to her ranks and her volunteers and staff grow and level the playing field. Everywhere she goes, she creates opportunities for East Texans. This race is based on helping more East Texans understand that she is already doing more for them than most incumbents. She is the person who brought mental health services for veterans and military families to 14 counties which were not served. She is the person who is bringing housing for homeless veterans to East Texas. She is the person who has brought a medical training program and nursing program to an East Texas college which had none. She is the person who has already brought jobs to East Texas. Her strategy is to continue doing what she knows is right and communicating with others. Might not be the "sexiest" strategy but it is an honest strategy by an incredible Texan.
Even out in District 11 there is life this year. Jennie Lou Leeder is running in a district which runs just west of Dallas all the way to the New Mexico Border. It takes over 7 1/2 hours to drive from one side of the district to the other. They haven't had a Democratic candidate jump in and attempt a serious campaign there in decades. Jennie Lou is a 2nd generation High School coach and school counselor. She is also a former Democratic County Chair. Folks know her there and she understands them. She carried every precinct in her home county in a contested primary. She knows that there aren't enough Democrats on the voter rolls to win. That is not a deterrent to her. Her strategy doesn't rely on just reaching the few folks who have voted Democrat in a district where frew Democrats have run. She is building political infrastructure and she might astound everyone and win this one.
7. One advantage few people mention is that when incumbents have not been truly challenged in a while, they forget how to run. They stop paying to train their campaign staffs if they don't have to fight to win. Give them enough free rides and they end up like first time candidates, having to build a campaign organization in one election cycle.
Truly, anything can happen in the Lone Star State this year. It won't be easy. The districts are still gerrymandered. The distances to travel are greater in several districts than the land mass of six to nine states combined. There are 22 media markets and most districts include many different media markets. However, this is Texas. Things are rarely easy in Texas. Watching these folks run is a better show than watching most H
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