Poll shows Candace Valenzuela leads race to fill open GOP congressional seat

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Democratic candidate Candace Valenzuela appears to be comfortably ahead in her race to flip a vacated GOP congressional seat in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Valenzuela leads Republican candidate Beth Van Duyne by a seven percentage point margin, 48 to 41 percent, according to an internal poll of 400 likely voters commissioned by the Democratic House Majority PAC.

It is the second poll showing Valenzuela ahead of her Republican opponent. DCCC polling released last month fresh after Valenzuela’s primary win showed her six percentage points ahead of Van Duyne. 

The poll, conducted last week and released Thursday, shows that voters in the North Dallas-Fort Worth area district, which includes Irving, Carrollton, and the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, are turning or being galvanized against President Trump.

In 2016, Trump carried the district by six percentage points, 51 percent to 45 percent. The new poll shows Biden leading Trump 49 to 44 percent. The district’s trend away from Republicans is heightened by the candidacy of Van Duyne — a former Irving mayor whose Trump-like tenure made headlines for being anti-Muslim and devoid of accomplishments. 

“Valenzuela has a compelling personal story — she was homeless as a child, eventually became a teacher and a school board member, and would become the first Afro-Latina in Congress,” the campaign said in a prepared statement following the poll’s release. 

The suburban district is considered one of the likeliest GOP-held seats to flip in 2020. In 2018, Democratic candidate Jan McDowell lost to Rep. Kenny Merchant by 3 percentage points. The retiring Republican congressman has held the district since 2005.

The polling showing Valenzuela ahead is particularly impressive not only because of the district’s history but also because of the latest finance reports released in June that show Van Duyne leading Valenzuela about four-to-one in remaining cash on hand, $483,332 to $110,665. 

In an interview with the Signal earlier this year, Valenzuela spoke about the district’s recent trend toward Democrats, aided by new residents and changing demographics.

“My husband and I moved here back from California,” she said. “We’re both Texans by birth, but go to work in Plano. And there’s been companies that have opened up in the area that have attracted folks from other states. That’s one factor, and I think another is people moving out of urban Dallas into the suburban areas. Texas 24 is completely suburban. And so over the past decade or so, you’ve seen an increase in the minority population here. So the phenomenon of this being a majority-minority district is very recent.”

Photo: Candace Valenzuela campaign website

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