Once again with female Congressional candidates

This is another post that was drafted in the Before Times, specifically right after the March primary. I went through the runoffs and assessed all of the races that could or would contain a female candidate or incumbent against a male opponent or open seat with a retiring male incumbent, mixed in the likelihood of said female candidate winning, and presented a range of possibilities for the number of female members of Congress in Texas in 2021, a number that now stands at six. That’s six female members of Congress out of 36 total – five Democrats (out of 13 total) and one Republican (out of 23). With the lineups for November settled, let’s do a quick review, then you can click on to see what I had written originally.

First of all, the next member of Congress in CD24 will be a woman, either Democrat Candace Valenzuela or Republican Beth Van Duyne. It would be nice to say that this means the number of women in Congress from Texas will go up, but Rep. Lizzie Fletcher could lose her race to Wesley Hunt, which would leave us at six as before. I think as things stand right now Fletcher is a clear favorite to win, but we have to allow for the possibility.

Other than Van Duyne, the only Republican running in a competitive district is Genevieve Collins in CD32 against Rep. Colin Allred, who like his fellow freshman Fletcher is the favorite to win but could lose if things go poorly from here. CD24 is one of the more Dem-leaning seats that are currently held by Republicans, but since it’s Republican-held I’d say it has slightly better odds of staying red than CD07 or CD32 have of flipping to red. Republicans can add up to two women to their caucus, and they can subtract one from the Democratic caucus, but I think the single most likely outcome is that Rep. Kay Granger remains the only Republican woman in Congress, and Rep. Lizzie Fletcher gets another term.

If that’s the case, then Dems will add at least one woman to their caucus, but given the bigger picture it’s nearly impossible to imagine that it would be one and only one. I can’t envision a scenario in which Candace Valenzuela wins but Gina Ortiz Jones does not. Wendy Davis is a notch behind those two, and then a little further behind we have Sima Ladjevardian, Lulu Seikaly, Julie Oliver, and Donna Imam. A gain of two Democratic women feels like the single most likely possibility, followed very closely by a gain of three. Four or more is more remote, but not at all out of the question.

That’s the nickel summary. More recently, The 19th wrote about this from a national perspective, with a focus on Republican efforts to recruit more and better female candidates for Congress. They all pretty neatly avoid the Donald Trump-shaped elephant in the room, but that’s their problem. Read on for my original post, which included all of the candidates who are now out of the race or who are running for seats that are not competitive.

The Texas GOP really really wants you to believe they’re not just a big ol’ boys club.

At least half of the 36 Texas congressional races will have a woman on the ballot in November, potentially tilting the gender imbalance in the state’s delegation as longtime white male Republicans retire from office.

Of 70 Texas women running for Congress this year, 18 won their primary elections outright on Tuesday. Thirteen others face runoffs in March.

“It’s just exciting to have so many more women running for Congress,” said Kristen Hernandez, spokeswoman for EMILY’S List, which provides campaign support to Democratic women. “With the so-called ‘Texodus,’ it’s certainly a state where we’re seeing so many opportunities with so many Republicans retiring.”

Democrats were the biggest winners, nabbing their party’s nominations or a place in the runoffs to run for 17 Congressional seats. Republican women secured the nominations to five Congressional seats and are candidates in four runoffs.

The results come with a marked increase in women running for office since the 2016 election. While Democratic operatives say presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s loss that year and President Donald Trump’s anti-abortion policies have spurred more women to run for office, Republicans say candidates in their party are motivated to combat the perspective that GOP is anti-woman.

“I think conservative women were fed up with that narrative,” said Randan Steinhauser, a Republican strategist based in Austin. “We pushed back on the narrative that all women are Democrats.”

In 2018, voters doubled the number of Texas women elected to Congress, from three to six.

Yes, and all three – Reps. Sylvia Garcia, Veronica Escobar, and Lizzie Fletcher – were Democrats. Can’t imagine where people came up with that idea, Randan.

I went through this exercise in 2018, and gave it a preview a few months ago, but let’s look at the results of the primaries, and together with the outlook for each district in the general election, come up with a forecast for how many more women from Texas we might see in Congress next year.

Democrats first:

CD02 – Sima Ladjevardian and Elisa Cardnell are in the runoff. This is a lean-Republican district.
CD03 – Lulu Seikaly is in the runoff for this likely Republican district.
CD05 – Carolyn Salter. Safe Republican.
CD07 – Rep. Lizzie Fletcher. Lean Democratic.
CD08 – Elizabeth Hernandez. Safe Republican.
CD12 – Lisa Welch. Safe Republican.
CD14 – Adrienne Bell. Safe Republican.
CD16 – Rep. Veronica Escobar. Safe Democratic.
CD18 – Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. Safe Democratic.
CD21 – Wendy Davis. Lean Republican.
CD23 – Gina Ortiz Jones. Tossup/Lean Democratic.
CD24 – Kim Olson and Candace Valenzuela are in the runoff for this tossup district.
CD25 – Julie Oliver. Likely Republican.
CD26 – Carol Ianuzzi. Safe Republican.
CD29 – Rep. Sylvia Garcia. Safe Democratic.
CD30 – Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson. Safe Democratic.
CD31 – Christine Eady Mann and Donna Imam are in the runoff. Lean Republican.

That’s 16 races where a woman will be on the ballot in November, 17 if Lulu Seikaly wins the runoff. Five are incumbents, with four sure bets to win and the fifth favored. Of the challengers, one or two should have a good shot at winning (CDs 23 and 24), with the nominees in CDs 21, 02, 31, 3, and 25 having some chance, in descending order. Worst case scenario, Dems have four women in Congress, base case is five, a decent to good day gets us to six or seven, and on a great day we reach eight or more, maybe up to ten.

Now let’s look at the Republicans:

CD12 – Rep. Kay Granger. She survived her nasty and expensive primary and will win another term.
CD15 – Monica de la Cruz-Hernandez is in the runoff, but this is a Safe Democratic seat.
CD16 – Irene Armandariz-Jackson is in the runoff, and this is also a Safe Democratic seat.
CD17 – Renee Swann is in the runoff with former Rep. Pete Sessions, carpetbagging from CD32. He led her 31.6 to 19.0 in the primary, but he’s unloved by the Republican establishment, so Swann could get a boost. If she can win, this is a safe Republican seat, but Sessions would seem to be the favorite for the runoff.
CD22 – Kathaleen Wall made it to the runoff this time after flaming out in CD02 in 2018, but Troy Nehls got over 40% last Tuesday, and she was under 20%, so you do the math. Plus, this is a lean Republican seat, so a Wall win in May does not guarantee a win in November.
CD24 – Former Irving Mayor and utter wingnut Beth Van Duyne won the primary outright, and was probably the strongest Republican in that race. It’s still a tossup district.
CD28 – Sandra Whitten. Safe Democratic.
CD29 – Jaimy Blanco. Safe Democratic.
CD32 – Genevieve Collins also won her multi-candidate primary outright, and also may have been the strongest candidate in that race. This one is lean Democratic, and frankly it’s probably more Democratic than it was in 2018.
CD35 – Jenny Garcia Sharon. Safe Democratic.

So that’s one incumbent, one sure November winner who is an underdog in May, one slight favorite for November who’s an even bigger underdog in May, and two November challengers who each have a decent if not odds-on shot at winning. Seven candidates for sure in November, with up to three more depending on May, though only the one in the safe Dem seat is anything close to a favorite. Honestly, the over/under here for November winners is still one, though getting to two is not out of the question. And hey, then we’d get to see headlines about how Republicans in Texas doubled the number of female members of Congress they have. Wouldn’t that be just peachy?

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