An under the radar race that’s prime to flip

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The race in the Texas sixth congressional district between challenger attorney Stephen Daniel and incumbent Rep. Ron Wright has been chugging along, under the radar from other clashes in the state. However, many pundits have looked at the district, which includes parts of Arlington, as well as Waxahachie and Corsicana, and have proclaimed it’s a sleeper for flipping, something Daniel himself sees in the final weeks of the campaign.

In 2018, Jana Lynne Sanchez ran for the seat. It was the first time in years a serious Democratic challenger had entered into the race. In the documentary film Surge, which recently premiered in Texas at the Dallas International Film Festival and is airing on Showtime, filmmakers chronicle the battle Sanchez endured to raise money and to get people interested in a race many deemed out of reach.

Sanchez came within seven points of Wright. Two years later, several polls are showing an even tighter race between Daniel and Wright, a combative Texas conservative and the former Chief of Staff to Rep. Joe Barton, who retired from the seat after explicit photos appeared on social media. Wright was recently hospitalized after complications from lung cancer treatment.

Wright has said that women who have abortions have committed murder and should be jailed. As a former columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he said that “white males are the only species without some form of federal protection.” Like most Republicans in Congress, he supports dismantling the Affordable Care Act. Texas currently leads the nation in the number of uninsured, and since the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 650,000 Texans have lost their health insurance.

Access to healthcare prompted Daniel to enter into the race against Wright. In an interview with the Texas Signal, he spoke about his background growing up in a small town and being the first person in his family to go to college. “There’s a lot of people who flat out can’t afford healthcare,” said Daniel.

All around him, Daniel says he sees Texas families scrambling to pay for healthcare plans that still make it impossible to access affordable prescriptions. He supports expanding Medicaid in Texas. In August, Missouri passed Medicaid expansion, joining other red states like Oklahoma and Utah. If the state of Texas expanded Medicaid, more than 1.5 million Texans would have affordable health insurance. “We have some leaders in the state that could easily help out if they just expand Medicaid, but they won’t do it based on politics,” said Daniel.

Like every campaign, Daniel and his team had to adjust to the pandemic era. He misses the in-person experience of block walking, where he could personally connect with voters. He particularly enjoyed campaigning alongside statehouse candidates. There are five competitive races in the sixth congressional district. Now, that campaigning has moved to Zoom and other virtual settings.

Daniel is optimistic. “The path to turning Texas blue goes through Texas sixth [district],” he said. Nearly seventy percent of the voting bloc in the district is in Arlington and Tarrant county. He sees firsthand how voters in the district are changing. The DCCC recently added the race to their Texas target list.

For Daniel, the recent presidential debate, crystallized just how much Republicans have fallen. “We have a president who won’t denounce white supremacy,” said Daniel. He also sees Texans that are fed up with the leadership of both Trump and Gov. Abbott when it comes to the coronavirus. All around him, Daniel sees a motivated voting base. “From the looks of things, turnout is going to be absolutely massive,” he said.

Later this fall, Arlington will host the NLCS and the World Series games at Globe Life Field. The Texas Rangers will not be playing in the postseason games as they finished last in the AL West. But this is 2020, and it’s full of surprises. It’s possible, Arlington will see another curveball in a flipped congressional district few could have seen coming.

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