Hispanics make up 41 percent of Irving’s population — up from 31 percent in 2000 and 16 percent in 1990, when the white population topped 71 percent, according to figures from 2010, the latest available. White residents make up 31 percent of Irving, Asians 14 percent and blacks 12 percent.
The changing demographics have turned Irving into a battleground in the November election in a state race that could foreshadow future face-offs in a changing state. Sensing an opportunity to put a state House seat in the “win” column, Democrats are courting Hispanic residents; Republicans, who have held the seat since 2001, are also making a push among new residents.
The race for House District 105, which is mostly in Irving, pits Susan Motley, a Democrat and disability rights attorney, against Rodney Anderson, the former state representative who beat a longtime incumbent, Linda Harper-Brown, in the Republican primary.
Motley said changing demographics showed that the district needed a leader who could “appreciate this diversity rather than react negatively from fear or misunderstanding.” She is getting help from the Democratic organizing group Battleground Texas, which is working to register voters and get them to the polls in November.
“Truthfully, I have felt for a long time that this district has what it needs if people turn out to vote,” Motley said about Democrats’ chances in House District 105.
Anderson said he has been successful in winning over minorities, pointing to his one term representing a neighboring district that had a majority-minority population.
“The same message I have today of individual liberty and creating an economic environment resonated well then and continues to resonate now,” he said.
And there’s HD107:
District 107 in the Texas House was created to be a Republican district, and a Republican now holds it.
But the results in 2012 were so close — Kenneth Sheets, first elected two years earlier, won re-election by less than 1,000 votes out of 50,000 cast — that Democrat Carol Donovan hopes to take it away this year.
District 107 stretches through the homes of middle-class families in northeast Dallas, Garland and Mesquite into affluent neighborhoods surrounding White Rock Lake.
Donovan thinks it is turning blue.
“It’s a matter of overcoming the edge,” she said. “The district is evolving, and I think the district is a lot more even than the people who drew the lines anticipated.”
Sheets said his conservative views are attuned to the people of the district. Sheets was considered an ally of the tea party when he was first elected in 2010, but he said he has broadened his perspective.
“I think I’ve matured,” he said. “I got to the point of understanding the reality of where things are.
What this all basically boils down to is that Dallas County is 55% or more Democratic overall – no Republican has won a countywide race in Dallas since 2004 – but eight of the 14 State Rep districts were drawn to elect Republicans. Because of that, none of these are truly safe seats for the Rs – none gave Mitt Romney more than 59% in 2012. In a strong year for the Dems, these two districts and maybe one or two more could fall to them, and in a good year for the Rs they could all revert back. I don’t know what will happen this year, but I feel confident saying that there will be hotly contested races in these seats for at least as long as the current map is in place. It’s just a matter of math.