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February 13, 2020

Congress Contender Gets Nod from Establishment Group
in District Where Trump Still Appears to Be on the Sidelines

By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor

Texas Congress Target
Races Fundraising 2019
Republican Frontrunners
Kathaleen Wall (R)
Congressional District 22
Total Donations: $1,604,971
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $583
Wesley Hunt (R)
Congressional District 7
Total Donations: $1,327,789
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $808,341
Genevieve Collins (R)
Congressional District 32
Total Donations: $791,838
Campaign Loans: $124,400
Cash on Hand: $787,049
Pierce Bush (R)
Congressional District 22
Total Donations: $663,097
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $640,850
Beth Van Duyne (R)
Congressional District 24
Total Donations: $586,105
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $435,382
Cindy Siegel (R)
Congressional District 7
Total Donations: $218,607
Campaign Loans: $206,954
Cash on Hand: $79,797
Floyd McLendon (R)
Congressional District 32
Total Donations: $333,355
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $158,252
Sunny Chaparala (R)
Congressional District 24
Total Donations: $3,916
Campaign Loans: $321,760
Cash on Hand: $300,826

Source: Federal
Election Commission

 

 

A Dallas Republican who's competing for Congress in a district that the GOP hopes to reclaim this fall scored an endorsement on Thursday from an anti-abortion group that's been associated with the party establishment and berated on the hard right in Texas.

U.S. House hopeful Genevieve Collins had been conspicuously missing in a package of endorsements that President Donald Trump tweeted out this week to Republican candidates who've been widely viewed as frontrunners in two of the hottest congressional contests on the Texas ballot in 2020.

Trump pitched his support to Wesley Hunt of Houston and Beth Van Duyne of Irving on Wednesday as the candidates who've been the apparent primary favorites for the GOP in target races. But the president hasn't taken sides up to now officially in the district where Collins is vying for a shot at freshman Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin Allred of Dallas in November.

Trump also has appeared to stay out of an open congressional race in the Houston area where Kathaleen Wall and Pierce Bush have had the most money in a GOP primary field with 16 contenders including a pair of formidable rivals in Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls and Greg Hill. The Congressional District 22 fight could require spring runoffs on both sides of the aisle with Sri Preston Kulkarni as the 2018 nominee for the Democrats in a field with three primary rivals this time around.

In a race without a clear-cut favorite at this point, Trump could be waiting for a nominee to emerge before investing significant political capital in CD 22 where Democrats think they have a decent shot to win this fall. But Collins has appeared to be the strongest candidate for the GOP on paper in Congressional District 32 after raising almost three times more campaign cash in 2019 than Floyd McLendon - a Dallas Republican who has his sights set on a spot in a primary runoff there this spring.

Hunt has appeared to have the inside track in a field with three primary rivals in a quest for a seat in a district where Democratic U.S. Rep. Lizzie Pannil Fletcher of Houston ousted a veteran Republican incumbent in 2018. Houston Republican Cindy Siegel will be fighting to force Hunt into overtime if Trump's show of confidence on social media doesn't propel him to an outright win in round one next month.

Van Duyne - by the same token - has been running as the betting favorite in the primary in a bid for the Congressional District 24 seat that veteran GOP U.S. Rep. Kenny Marchant of Coppell decided to relinquish without a re-election bid in 2020.

All of the Republicans who are running for Congress here are portraying themselves as ardent Trump supporters as though their refusal to do so would be the kiss of death.

Bush - the son of Neil Bush with two former presidents in the family - has been dogged by questions about his participation in a protest over Trump immigration policies in New York City in 2017. But Bush has given Trump sterling reviews on his policies and leadership since entering the race for the CD 22 seat that Republican U.S. Rep. Pete Olson of Sugar Land is giving up.

But the president's absence in CD 32 could be more significant if he doesn't pick a candidate before the primary as one of the two Texas congressional districts that the Democrats turned blue in 2018 with the Allred and Fletcher wins.

It's possible that Trump has avoided the race in Allred's district up to now as a result of McLendon's status as a member of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's staff. But Collins has appeared to be more in line with the party establishment than the hard-line conservatives at the heart of the president's base. That could be a factor in Trump's neutrality in CD 32 so far despite praise for Trump that Collins has been shelling out as the vote nears.

Collins could catch some heat from conservative activists as a consequence of an endorsement that she received today from the Texas Alliance for Life. While the group has been a force in the Legislature's adoption of stringent abortion restrictions, conservatives have ripped it as a front group for relatively moderate Republicans who've been regarded as enemies in the eyes of the rival organization Texas Right to Life.

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