March 10, 2020

Republican Neck-and-Neck with Congressional Dem
Who Defied Pollsters with GOP Incumbent Knockout

By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor

A new poll by a firm that U.S. Senator Ted Cruz's chief strategist runs shows GOP challenger Wesley Hunt running even with Democratic U.S. Rep. Lizzie Pannill Fletcher of Houston in the Texas district that the Republicans have the best shot here at flipping in November.

The Remington Research Group found Fletcher and Hunt with 45 percent support apiece in a survey that was taken in Congressional District 7 last week during the first two days after the Super Tuesday primary election. The Missouri-based group that Republican consultant Jeff Roe founded determined that Fletcher's advantage in name identification was offset by a relatively high unfavorable rating.

Forty-two percent of 1,005 likely general election voters gave Fletcher good marks while 36 percent have a negative impression of her and 22 percent had no opinion on the freshman Democrat who ousted a longtime incumbent for the GOP in 2018. Hunt scored a favorable rating of 40 percent compared to 23 percent who disagreed. Hunt appeared to be an unknown commodity with 37 percent of the CD 7 voters in the survey having no feelings good or bad on him.

The Texas Republican Party moved swiftly to capitalize on the poll amid the assertion that Texans in general view Fletcher as a puppet that U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi controls and former presidential contender Mike Bloomberg owns.

"Texans are fed up with Fletcher blindly following Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s every directive. She voted in lockstep with Pelosi a striking 98% of the time!" Sam Pohl, the communications director for the state GOP, declared. "On top of that, Bloomberg admitted he bought Fletcher’s seat with his fortune. Texans don’t want a D.C. insider who has already been bought by billionaires."

Hunt - a former combat pilot who's black - demonstrated his strength as a challenger when he eliminated a handful of primary rivals last week with more than 61 percent of the first-round vote. Fletcher ran unopposed in the Democratic primary in her first re-election race.

But the official for the state's ruling party didn't mention that the pollsters had underestimated Fletcher in her debut campaign in the congressional district that had been safely red until she wrestled it away in the last election cycle.

Fletcher had been trailing veteran congressional Republican John Culberson by one to three points in surveys that the New York Times conducted in the final two months before the 2018 general election. But a minimum amount of polling had been in the Houston area district where Culberson had appeared to be a slight favorite until Fletcher beat him by more than 5 percentage points with almost 53 percent of the vote.

Roe had a close call in the race at the top of the Texas ticket in 2018 when Cruz defeated Democrat Beto O'Rourke by less than 3 points as a U.S. Senate nominee who appeared to have significant coattails for down-ballot candidates like Fletcher.


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