Amanda Edwards joins the Senate race

And then there were three, with a fourth likely to follow and a fifth out there as a possibility.

CM Amanda Edwards

Houston City Councilwoman Amanda Edwards announced Thursday morning she is running for U.S. Senate, joining an increasingly crowded primary to challenge Republican John Cornyn.

It will be a campaign against several Democratic rivals and, possibly, a three-term incumbent whose reelection war chest tops $9 million. But should Edwards win, she would be the first African American Texan to serve in the U.S. Senate.

“As a woman, as an African American, as a millennial — and in certainly as someone who generally … believes in solutions and not just rhetoric — I think I’m going to be the candidate that can do the job,” she said in an interview with The Texas Tribune, emphasizing the need for a nominee who can persuade voters to vote Democratic but also “galvanize our base.”

Edwards, who had been considering a run since at least March, is finishing her first term as an at-large City Council member after being elected in 2015. She said she does not plan to run for a second term in November but will serve out her term, which ends in December.

Edwards launched her bid with a video, set to drum-line music, that reflected on her family’s middle-class struggles and highlighted a key part of her council tenure — the Hurricane Harvey recovery. Over images of Martin Luther King Jr. and Ann Richards, Edwards appealed to “all of the people who have ever been locked out or told that they can’t wait or to wait their turn because the status quo or establishment was not ready for change.”


So far, Cornyn’s most serious Democratic challenger has been MJ Hegar, the 2018 U.S. House candidate and retired Air Force helicopter pilot. She launched her bid in late April and raised over $1 million through the second quarter.

Since then, another Democrat, Chris Bell, the former Houston congressman and 2006 gubernatorial nominee, has entered the primary, and some progressive operatives have mobilized to try to draft top Latina organizer Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez into the race.

As the story notes, State Sen. Royce West is set to make an announcement on Monday, which is widely expected to be his own entrance into the race. If Edwards’ announcement, which I at least wasn’t expecting, was intended to steal some of West’s thunder, then kudos to her for doing so. I admit I’d been skeptical about Edwards’ intentions, as there had been a lot of “Edwards is considering” mentions in other stories but very few direct reports about her, but here she is.

Edwards anticipates raising $5 million for the primary, and “potentially you’re looking at several million dollars” for the general election, she said. Over and over, she stressed that the Senate race could be nationalized.

“I think with the general, however, this will be a national phenomenon because people will recognize Texas is such a key piece” to changing the direction of the country, she said.

She told the Tribune that she has met with U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — as did Hegar and West — and had “very, very positive discussions” with him and the Senate Democratic campaign arm. She suggested another heavyweight group, EMILY’s List, which works to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights, is “very much looking at this and looking to get involved in this race.”

“I think they’re very, very excited to see Texas flip, and they’re going to spend resources” to make it happen, Edwards said of national Democrats’ interest in the race.

I imagine EMILY’s List is happy with these developments, though now they’ll either have to pick a favorite among the female candidates or wait till one of them (hopefully) wins and then get involved. As for Edwards, five million is a decent sum for the primary, but the target for November has to be a lot higher than that. John Cornyn is not going to be outraised like Ted Cruz was.

One more thing, from the Chron:

Though she began mulling a run for Senate months ago, Edwards waited to join the race until city council approved Houston’s budget for the fiscal year that began July 1. Edwards serves as vice chair of the city budget committee and helmed several department budget workshops in chairman Dave Martin’s absence.

Edwards’ city campaign account had about $193,000 cash on hand through the end of June. She cannot transfer the money to her Senate campaign, though she may send unspent campaign funds back to donors and ask them to re-contribute.

That helps explain the timeline. With Edwards not running for re-election, the At Large #4 seat is now open, the eighth open seat on Council this election, joining Districts A, B, C, D (for now, at least), F, J, and At Large #5. The impact has already been felt in the field of candidates for AL4. There were four challengers at the start of the week – Christel Bastida, Tiko Reynolds-Hausman, Ericka McCrutcheon, and Jason Rowe – and now there are six, with Nick Hellyar moving over from District C and Letitia Plummer swapping out from AL5. Don’t be surprised if that field grows further, too. We live in exciting times. The DMN has more.

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7 Responses to Amanda Edwards joins the Senate race

  1. General Grant says:

    This will be an interesting science experiment. In the modern Democratic Party, how many demographic identity boxes need to be checked to overcome a corporatist background and a generic message? From her comments, Edwards is hypothesizing that the answer is three.

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  3. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    In order to effect change, you have to get elected first. Those who believe that working for a corporation makes one somehow unqualified to be US Senator have not sold that argument.

    Texas is not a blue state, it is historically a profoundly red state that might, just might, given the right political environment and messaging, vote for a Democrat.

    Many Democrats, myself included, see removing Cornyn as the most important thing in the race. And will decide on a candidate in the Democratic primary based upon that.

    For me, I have some minimum requirements as to policy, but the bigger issue is…can the candidate beat Cornyn?

    In a state where 60 percent of the voters are over 45 and 75 percent of voters self identify as either moderate/centrist or conservative, I dont see a candidate that cannot appeal to centrists as being viable. A full on Bernie Bro/Jill Stein/Tulsi style candidate will have a much harder time winning. Change the dynamics of voting and Texas and change the strategy.

    This election will be determined by turnout in liberal urban centers but ALSO by moderate voters in the suburbs. The Dems have to win Tarrant and do well in places like Williamson, Hays, Brazoria, and Collin to win statewide.

    Edwards, Bell, West, Hagar, etc., are not perfect, but I see a path to victory for each of them. All of them can be accused of not being ideologically pure. I dont really care at this point. I want Cornyn tossed from the Senate by a Democrat.

    Who do you support and how do you see their path to victory? How much money does your candidate need to raise to be viable and how do you propose to raise it? The Citizens United ruling, which I oppose, will be in full effect this cycle and Cornyn will raise 9 figures.

    The diehard (not all) Bernie or Bust / Jill Stein folks will always find a reason to not vote for the Democrat. So theres no point in pandering to them. We need to keep all of Betos voters and find 750,000 new ones to beat Cornyn.

    So who are you supporting?

  4. Mainstream says:

    I will be supporting Cornyn, but I think the Ivy League educated Edwards has a shot at persuading independent suburban women, and that Sen. West does not.

  5. Bill Daniels says:

    Frankly, I can’t see that it matters WHO the candidate is. The ONLY issue is, do you like having conservative, Federalist Society judges appointed or not? If you do, you aren’t voting against Cornyn, no matter who the candidate is. If you DON’T want conservative judges and you think there’s really no way RBG doesn’t kick in the next 6 years, you vote for any (D) that makes it to the general, even if it’s, as Pelosi puts it, a glass of water.

    Every single Senate campaign nationwide is about this one thing.

    I’m not a huge fan of Cornyn, and I wish he’d get primaried, frankly, but since he’s the candidate, I want Trump’s judge picks so that’s that. I’m voting Cornyn.

  6. General Grant says:


    I actually don’t disagree with you (except that part about Chris Bell having a path to victory). My point is simply that the Democratic Party right now is very focused on demographic identity and the Opposition to corporations/millionaires/billionaires/establishment types. Edwards excels in her appeal to one side of this and not to the other.

    Edwards agrees with me on this point too, which is why her rhetoric is the way it is. She very much wants primary voters to focus on who she is and not so much what she’s done.

    As for the general election no matter who they nominate the race will almost certainly decided by the Presidential race. There is not going to be much ticket splitting at all.

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