Matt Rinaldi holds a swing seat

Just something to keep in mind.

Matt Rinaldi

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.

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7 Responses to Matt Rinaldi holds a swing seat

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    I see Rinaldi like a more urbane Walt Kowalski. He sees kids up to no good in his yard, and he doesn’t just look the other way, he does something about it, and doesn’t apologize for it. These protesters were 1) self identifying as illegal, 2) disrupting a place of business, and 3) were foreign agents trying to interfere with our political process. Wasn’t that the whole point of the “muh Russia” narrative, that foreigners were interfering with our political process?

    What do we call foreigners in Texas physically, in person, interfering with our political process?

    I’m waiting for Dems to call for the removal from office of the legislators that cheered on foreign citizens trying to interfere with our political process. Maybe Al Green can lead that charge?

  2. Flypusher says:

    I’m curious here Bill, do you take pride in this alleged statement by Rinaldi?

    ‘Blanco said that at one point during the altercation, he pointed out that “Rinaldi” is an Italian name and that the Irish and Italians were once treated poorly in this country.

    “He said, ‘the difference between me and them is that I love this country,'” said Blanco, who added: “It’s just disrespectful.” ‘

    I think saying that Italian Americans love America but Mexican Americans don’t is bigoted. It’s extra disrespectful to say that to a Mexican American who is a veteran.

    As for the protestors who held up signs declaring themselves to be undocumented, the civil disobedience handbook sez don’t offer yourself up as a potential martyr if you’re not prepared for the consequences of the offer being accepted.

  3. Ross says:

    @Bill, how do you, or Rinaldi, know for sure that the people holding the signs were actually illegally in the United States? That’s right, you don’t. For all we know, they were citizens making a point.

    The Capitol building is not a place of business, it is the seat of government for Texas. If that’s not a place where the First Amendment “right to petition” can take place, we are in a sad state of affairs.

    Rinaldi is an ass. And a thin skinned one at that.

  4. Bill Daniels says:

    “He said, ‘the difference between me and them is that I love this country,’” said Blanco, who added: “It’s just disrespectful.” ‘

    I think saying that Italian Americans love America but Mexican Americans don’t is bigoted. It’s extra disrespectful to say that to a Mexican American who is a veteran.

    I’d agree with you, but for one small problem. Let’s say the quote is true. He didn’t allegedly say the difference between me and you (the other legislators), he allegedly said, the difference between me and them. “Them” would have to be the self identifying illegal aliens who were disrupting the workplace where our legislators were trying to conduct business. “Them” are foreigners trying to influence our political system. If those foreigners loved our country, they would obey our laws. Those self identifying illegal aliens could have been Russians. We don’t know who they are, because they aren’t supposed to be here. That right there lends gravitas to the alleged quote. Rinaldi demonstrates love for his country by upholding his country’s laws. Compare and contrast that to the self identified foreign nationals trying to disrupt and influence our country. I wouldn’t call that love. Would you?

    The other legislators are the ones who brought nationality into the mix, not Rinaldi.

  5. Bill Daniels says:

    correction: meant to say ethnicity, not nationality.

    We really need an edit feature here.

  6. Bill Daniels says:

    @ Ross:

    You’re right…..we don’t know. I do think it was prudent to call in experts who could get to the bottom of things. If you saw a guy holding a sign that says, “I just robbed a liquor store” screaming his head off in the parking lot of the liquor store, would you just drive by, or would you maybe call the police? See something, say something. That’s what Rinaldi did.

    As to your First Amendment issue, yes, the people absolutely have the right to petition their legislators for redress of grievances. I’m not so sure foreign nationals in the country illegally have that same right. They certainly don’t have the right to prevent our lawmakers from doing their job. You can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater, either. The protesters had more than made their feelings known, and then were refusing to quiet down and leave even after DPS tried to restore order. Look behind you. There was the line. They crossed it.

  7. neither here nor there says:

    The racist Republican (Rinaldi) or bigot if one prefers, lied about calling ICE, he admitted as much. But that is typical of Republicans lie, lie again until the lie becomes a truth in their little minds.

    The fact is that there may have been some people there that were not here legally, the vast majority of protestors were citizens according to various sources.

    But I know for a fact that to people like Rinaldi if it looks “Mexican” it must be “Illegal” until proven other wise. Unfortunately that is the state of the Republican Party at the time in history.

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