A 2020 priority: taking back the Texas House

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National attention on Texas is focused on key congressional races and the weakness of President Trump and Sen. John Cornyn in the state. But strategists and activists are also prioritizing flipping the Texas House of Representatives in 2020.

Beto O’Rourke is one of those, and since dropping out of the presidential race last month the former El Paso congressman has been funneling attention and support to the task at hand. 

“In 2018, I carried nine of the 17 districts now represented by Republicans,” O’Rourke said in the email on Monday showcasing Flip the Texas House, a newly formed group created by supporters O’Rourke’s Senate campaign. 

In eight of those 17 districts, Republicans won by less than five percentage points, making them winnable.

O’Rourke went on to direct his 1.7 million Twitter followers to donate to Flip the Texas House and highlighted the importance of winning the chamber. According to the Flip the Texas House website, donations will contribute to voter registration efforts in these key districts, including pre-filled forms and other voter outreach methods. 

What’s at stake

If Democrats take back the lower chamber next year, it would give Democrats a seat at the table in a particularly critical legislative session. In 2021, lawmakers will meet to redraw both state and congressional districts. Texas has become one of the most gerrymandered states in the nation. One study by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University found that Texas had one to two extra GOP congressional seats attributable to partisan gerrymandering bias. 

Victory for Dems in the Texas House would also usher in a new era of lawmaking, with long-ignored bills on issues like health care, gun safety, school finance and marijuana legalization finally getting more of a shot at passing.

And, as importantly, bills anathema to progressive values — anything curbing reproductive rights, discriminating against LGBTQ people, or loosening gun restrictions —would be dead on arrival.

Photo: Thinkstock/Getty

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