When it comes to running for office, some candidates need massive amounts of persuasion. For Becca Moyer DeFelice, running against a Republican state representative in a tight swing district, the extremism of the Texas GOP was enough.
Under Republican leadership, Texas has lurched even farther to the right. The last legislative session saw several rightwing priorities enacted, including a six-week abortion ban, permitless carry, voter suppression laws, and school-censorship bills meant to stamp out critical race theory. Seeing all that extremism take hold, Moyer DeFelice decided to challenge Republican incumbent State Rep. Steve Allison in House District 121.
Moyer DeFelice spoke with the Signal about that decision, and the state of the race with less than four months until Election Day. A major factor in her decision to run was her 12-year-old daughter. “The future that we are leaving our children is very much at risk,” says Moyer DeFelice.
House District 121 is one of a few swing districts throughout the state after redistricting took place last year. Moyer DeFelice ran in the 2020 democratic primary. Ultimately, Celina Montoya was the democratic nominee and lost to Allison 46.5 to 53.5 percent. Notably, it was a district that Biden narrowly won by 2.7 points. Under the new map, Trump would have carried it by 2.3 points.
According to Moyer DeFelice, the district is still moderate. And many of the recent headlines, including the overturning of Roe v. Wade, have impacted the race. “The incumbent is absolutely a hardline anti-abortion representative,” noted Moyer DeFelice.
After the tragic shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, gun safety is also on the minds of potential constituents, which is an area Moyer DeFelice is familiar with from her work with Moms Demand Action, where she served as Texas Deputy Chapter Lead. Moyer DeFelice, who grew up on a farm in rural Pennsylvania, is a gun owner, but supports practical gun safety measures like background checks and preventing the open carry of long arms in public places. Parents are receptive to those reforms. “Parents regardless of their party do want their kids to come home every day from school,” she says.
When it comes to healthcare, Moyer DeFelice also sees an opening for commonsense reforms. She previously worked with State Senator Roland Gutierrez to pass SB 1380, a rural mental health bill, which was one of the few bright spots of the last legislative session. Now, she is also talking up ways to improve healthcare in Texas, the state with the highest uninsured rate in the nation.
Framing the issue is important for Moyer DeFelice. When talking with voters, she emphasizes that expanding Medicaid would reclaim our federal tax dollars, in addition to benefiting the state overall. “Being willing to message this differently may be our path forward,” she says.
With early voting starting in less than 100 days, it’s crunch time for all candidates in Texas. As an AAPI candidate, Moyer DeFelice is running as a member of a community that is woefully underserved in Texas, despite being the fastest growing demographic in the state. Someday soon, she hopes, the state will finally have leadership that mirrors the state. “Having a legislative body that more closely reflects the state of Texas can only benefit all of us.”