Analysis: Enough Safe GOP Seats To Hang On To Texas House Majority

Currently there are 83 Republicans and 67 Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives. According to one of the more respectable political scientists in Texas, the number of “Safe Republican” districts in the 2020 election still outnumber “Safe Democratic” seats — by 10, and enough for the GOP to hold on to a majority in 2021.

Mark P. Jones of Rice University released his 2020 Texas House Ratings on New Year’s Day, analyzing each of the 32 Texas House races up for grabs in the 2020 election year. Below are his ratings:

Toss Ups:

HD 26 — Open seat Fort Bend County of which we have written plenty. Currently held by embattled Rep. Rick Miller (R).
HD 65 — Michelle Beckley (D) in Denton County.
HD 66 — Matt Shaheen (R) in Collin County in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area.
HD 112 — Angie Chen Button (R) in Dallas County.
HD 132 — Gina Calanni (D) in Harris County in in urban Houston.

Likely Democratic:

HD 74 — open seat in in Maverick County in far Southwest Texas currently held by Poncho Nevarez (D) with drug-related issues.
HD 102 — Ana-Maria Ramos (D) in Dallas County
HD 105 — Terry Meza (D) in Dallas County
HD 115 — Julie Johnson (D) in Dallas County
HD 136 — John Bucy III (D) in Williamson County in the Austin metro area.

Lean Democratic:

HD 45 — Erin Zweiner (D) freshman Rep in Hays County in the Austin metro area.
HD 47 — Vikki Goodwin (D) freshman Rep in Travis County, in Austin.
HD 52 — James Talarico (D) freshman Rep in Williamson County.
HD 108 — Morgan Meyer (R), a committee chairman in Dallas County.
HD 113 — Rhetta Bowers (D) in Dallas County.
HD 114 — John Turner (D) in Dallas County.
HD 135 — Jon Rosenthal (D) in Harris County.
HD 138 — Open seat in Harris County currently held by retiring Dwayne Bohac (R).

Lean Republican

HD 28 — Open seat in Fort Bend County currently held by retiring chairman John Zerwas (R)
HD 54 — Brad Buckley (R) in Bell County in Central Texas.
HD 64 — Lynn Stucky (R) in Dallas-Fort Worth exurb Denton County.
HD 67 — Jeff Leach (R) in Collin County.
HD 92 — Open seat in Tarrant County in Fort Worth currently held by conservative firebrand Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R).
HD 96 — Open seat in Tarrant County currently held by longtime and staunchly conservative Rep. Bill Zedler (R).
HD 121 — Steve Allison (R) in Bexar County in an affluent area of San Antonio who succeeded former Speaker Joe Straus.
HD 143 — Sarah Davis (R) in Harris County.

Likely Republican

HD 29 — Ed Thompson (R) in Brazoria County, outside of the Houston metro.
HD 32 — Todd Hunter (R), a longtime powerful chairman in Nueces County in Galveston.
HD 93 — Matt Krause (R) in Tarrant County in and around Fort Worth.
HD 94 — Tony Tinderholt (R) in Tarrant County.
HD 97 — Craig Goldman (R) in Tarrant County.
HD 126 — Patricia Harless (R) in Harris County in the Houston metro area.

From the hip: We would add at least two more Toss Ups to the ratings.

Republicans will likely perform better than expected. President Donald Trump will do better in 2020 than in 2016. This will provide some coat-tails to consider for down-ballot candidates. 2016 and 2018 were “peak Democrat” years, made evident by “push back” efforts in the suburbs, particularly in the areas north and west of Austin where Republican turf was taken back from Trump-bashing liberal ground troops.

With that said, and being situated in the Austin metro, we disagree that HD 136 is safe for Democrats. It was a fight for them to win it with an incumbent who presumed he was safe. It will take another fight with only freshman name ID for Democrats to retain it. Call this one a Toss Up.

We would also place HD 47 in Austin into the Toss Up category — with five candidates in a pact not to fight one another through the Primary but to take shots at freshman incumbent Goodwin. Republicans are hungry to win back a long-held Republican seat by Rep. Paul Workmantheir only state House seat in Austin.

Suburban Fort Worth and Tarrant County is rightfully predicted to stay in the deep red territory, as are urban Dallas and urban Houston seats likely to stay Democrat. The battle will be in the “urban suburbs,” where Democrats are banking on rapidly changing demographics to hand them automatic victories.

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