State Rep. Matt Rinaldi’s scuffle Monday with Hispanic lawmakers is already putting a bright spotlight on his House district — and whether he can hold on to it in 2018.
Rinaldi, an Irving Republican, almost lost the district last year to Democrat Dorotha Ocker, winning by 1,048 votes out of nearly 59,000 cast. Within hours of Rinaldi being at the center of a confrontation on the Texas House floor that drew national attention, Ocker, a Dallas attorney, announced on Twitter that she is running again for the seat.
In a brief interview Tuesday, Ocker said she had decided to challenge Rinaldi again before the incident Monday. Still, “it’s sad Rinaldi did what he did,” she said.
As they denounced Rinaldi’s role in the dustup, Democrats made no secret they were already looking toward 2018.
“When someone like that shows their true colors, I would say he’s a broken person, and I hope his community back home realizes that when he’s back up for re-election in 2018,” Rodriguez told reporters.
Rinaldi’s House District 115 was already on Democrats’ radar because it was among 10 Republican-held House districts in Texas that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won last year. She carried Rinaldi’s district by 8 percentage points after GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney won it by 12 in 2012.
See here for the background. I’ve covered this before when I reviewed Dallas County precinct data. As the story notes, Hillary Clinton carried HD115, as she carried all of the Dallas County State Rep districts. Things weren’t quite as rosy with the other statewide candidates, though the Republican failed to clear fifty percent in five of the seven races and never had a lead more than six points. At the county candidate level, Democrats at the top end carried the district, and in these two-candidate races Rinaldi’s median result was a bit more than 51%. So yeah, a swing district, and one that would have been high on the target list even before Rinaldi made an ass of himself to a national audience. Here’s Dorotha Ocker’s Facebook page if you want to know more about her. I can just about guarantee you’ll be hearing more as we go forward. The Lone Star Project has more.