There’s always something to worry about.
With the Texas case moving forward, the boundaries of the congressional districts remain in question with the 2018 elections less than 18 months away. The Lone Star State’s primary filing deadline is in six months.
So, incumbent lawmakers and potential challengers are watching to see where the districts’ boundaries will fall, and weighing how that could affect the outcomes in next year’s midterms.
National Democrats have heard from candidates interested in [CD23]. And while they expect strong challengers to emerge, none have so far.
“Everyone’s kind of keeping their powder dry until it makes a little more sense to announce,” said [Colin] Strother, the Democratic consultant.
The court also ruled two other districts were unlawful: the 35th District, which stretches from San Antonio to Austin, and is represented by Democrat Lloyd Doggett; and the 27th District along Texas’ central Gulf Coast, represented by Republican Blake Farenthold.
[Michael Li, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice] speculated that, if the court rules the current map is also invalid, a new congressional map could lead to two or three more Democratic seats. Republicans currently outnumber Democrats, 25 to 11, in the Texas delegation.
But one GOP consultant focused on Texas did not believe a new map would result in a significant shift against the Republicans.
“There’s just not enough Democrats to roll around the state to really have massive amounts of change,” the consultant said. “You may lose one seat.”
The consultant also said the uncertainty would not have an effect on congressional campaigns for incumbents, since they are accustomed to the constant legal battles over the congressional lines.
But Strother said Democrats had to be prepared just in case.
“The nightmare scenario for Democrats is we don’t have people preparing for the emergency that this district or that district suddenly gets great for Democrats … and it’s too late,” he said.
Strother said he didn’t see many Democrats preparing for races just yet, but pointed to Joe Kopser in the 21st District as someone jumping in early in a race rated Solid Republican by Inside Elections.
Kopser, an Army veteran and technology businessman, recently announced that he would challenge GOP Rep. Lamar Smith in the central Texas district. It is possible a new congressional map could have a ripple effect and alter the lines of Smith’s district.
While the district is not on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s list of 2018 targets, the committee is waiting to see how the redistricting case pans out.
I’m not worried about this. Districts that aren’t likely to change or which won’t change that much ether already have candidates or candidates in waiting – Pete Gallego is circling around CD23, for one, and there are other candidates looking at it as well – and in the districts that may change a lot, like CD27, there’s really no choice but to wait and see what they actually look like. Sure, Republican incumbents who are already sitting on a decent pile of campaign cash will have an advantage, but that was always the case, and it may not matter that much in any event, depending on how the districts get drawn. As far as CD21 goes, a look at the FEC reports shows that there are at least three other candidates running against Lamar Smith, one of whom has been out there for a couple of months. We’re going to have plenty of candidates, and some of them will have a decent chance of winning. It’s all good.