Lulu Seikaly and the changing political landscape of North Texas

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A political sea change is taking place in Collin County. This year marks the first time in recent history a poll has shown the 3rd Congressional District, located north of Dallas, as competitive.

This district for so long was reliably red, but things are changing rapidly: Now, Democratic challenger Lulu Seikaly trails freshman Rep. Van Taylor by just six points.

The poll, conducted by Global Strategy Group, shows Taylor ahead of Seikaly 43 percent to 37 percent. The poll also shows Joe Biden leading Donald Trump by 2 points. If Texas were to flip blue this year, this district would certainly be a major factor.

Living in Plano with her husband, Seikaly has been on the campaign trail since October. Seikaly is the daughter of Lebanese-American immigrants who fled to America during the civil war of their native country. Her father is a pediatric specialist, and her mother is a registered nurse. Seikaly was raised in North Texas and earned a law degree from South Texas College of Law.

Seikaly, who is 34, advanced to the runoff for the third congressional district in March. In the runoff election, she won slightly more than 60 percent of the vote. Now, she’s making her case against Taylor, a somewhat inconspicuous Republican who also served as a state representative and state senator.

Even though Taylor avoids the antics of fellow Texas Republicans like Chip Roy or Dan Crenshaw, he is a reliable vote for the Trump administration. As Seikaly told the Texas Signal, “I have a representative who is a ghost, and silently votes with Donald Trump.”

Around the country, Democrats are looking to Texas with an optimism that hasn’t been seen in nearly four decades. In 2018, Beto O’Rourke came within three points of beating Ted Cruz in the third congressional district. Earlier this month, the district gained even more attention when Cook Political Report upgraded it from solidly Republican to likely Republican.

The recent primary election also provided some intriguing results. In the 2016 primaries, Republicans outvoted Democrats by more than 75,000 votes. Now, in 2020, Democrats actually outvoted Republicans in this district by more than 15,000 votes.

“For a long time people really assumed the district is Republican, no one took a second glance until Beto came within three points,” notes Seikaly. The 3rd Congressional District happens to be the most college-educated district that still votes Republican. A major reason Seikaly senses things are changing in Collin County is the shifting demographics: More families of first-generation Americans; those that relocated through work; or families from Dallas moving up north for better schools. 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Seikaly emphasized healthcare on the campaign trail. She often highlighted her support for increasing access to healthcare (including a public option for Medicare), lowering the cost of prescription drugs, and universal prenatal care and family planning services.

Now with COVID-19, healthcare remains one of Seikaly’s biggest focuses. Her parents have also been on the virtual campaign trail with her to talk about the need for increased testing and protecting the Affordable Care Act.  

Around the country, Seikaly is also gaining traction. During the primary runoff, she touted support from Fort Worth Congressman Marc Veasey, a rising figure in the party. After her runoff win, she also earned the endorsement from Off the Sidelines, the PAC started by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

The poll the campaign commissioned has some further hopeful metrics. Seikaly is known just to 18 percent of the electorate, and that’s mostly Democrats who voted in the primary. The more respondents learned about her, the margin between her and Taylor shrunk.

Seikaly views the results as a sign that this district is ready to send a Democrat to Washington. She would be the first Arab-American from the Texas delegation. Seikaly is ready for the responsibility, and to start fighting for a more progressive future for Collin County. “We can’t change Washington without changing who we send there.”

Photo: Lulu Seikaly

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