Ahead of pivotal election in three weeks, claims of child abuse dog GOP candidate for Texas House seat

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An ad featuring allegations of child abuse by the Republican candidate running against Democrat Eliz Markowitz for the Texas House begins airing this week. The special election in the Houston suburbs is Jan. 28.

The 30-second ad titled “Abuse,” highlights past allegations made against Gary Gates.

“His own kids told Child Protective Services he forced them to take vomit-inducing medicine, handcuffed, and beat them with a wooden board,” the ad, paid for by the Forward Majority Action Texas, says. 

Longtime conservative firebrand Michael Quinn Sullivan wrote in 2016, referring to Gates, who was running for Texas Railroad Commissioner,  “A person whose children repeatedly allege is engaged in criminal child abuse is simply not qualified for public office.” 

Gates has denied the allegations. But the six-figure ad buy is the latest example of how Democrats are making flipping the Texas House a top priority.

On Monday, Joe Biden endorsed Markowitz.

“Not only is Eliz an educator and activist– she’s the kind of fighter who will bring heart and smarts to the statehouse and to communities across Texas and at home in Fort Bend County,” Biden said in a statement.

Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg has canvassed for Markowitz. Beto O’Rourke has been phone banking and door knocking on her behalf.  

An internal poll released by the Markowitz campaign last month showed her tied with Garry Gates 42-42. When respondents were given more information about Markowitz, her support increased to 58 percent. 

The Jan. 28 race is the first Texas House race of the year, and arguably the most important too. Observers of the race have called the special election a political bellwether, or a race that could forecast how things will turn out in November.

“This is the single most important race to start off 2020 because if we can flip this seat we will bring in a vast amount of resources to flip the remaining 8 seats needed to take control of the Texas House,” Markowitz told the Signal in an interview last week.

Markowitz said District 28 was vulnerable to a Democratic takeover because of its demographic makeup. “The population itself has changed dramatically and become much more diverse,” Markowitz said referencing the region’s growing Asian population. “We’re now a majority-minority county, and we’re very close to being a majority-minority district.”

If Democrats secure the Texas House in 2020, it would be the first time in 17 years. It would also give Democrats a chance to influence the redistricting process in 2021. 

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

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