January 25, 2020

House Caucus Chief Gives Biden Growing Edge
in Scramble for Support from Texas Legislators

By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor

Joe Biden widened his lead in the Lone Star State lawmaker endorsement sweepstakes on Saturday when the leader of the Democrats in the Texas House rallied behind the former vice president amid the assertiton that he has the best chance to give President Donald Trump the boot in 2020.

State Rep. Chris Turner joined seven Democratic House colleagues and three Texas senators on the list of legislators who've boarded the Biden train when he pitched his support to the ex-VP nine days before the presidential primary voting gets under way with the caucuses in Iowa.

Turner - the House Democratic Caucus chairman who's based in the Dallas-Fort Worth suburb of Grand Prairie - suggested that Trump had demonstrated his fear of facing Biden in the fall when he attempted to "manufacture dirt" on the potential general election challenger in a turn of events that culminated in his impeachment in the U.S. House and subsequent trial that's currently away in the Senate.

"Trump clearly knows the former vice president is the Democrat who poses the greatest threat in November," the caucus boss contended. "That in and of itself is a good reason to support Biden, but it’s far from the only reason."

Turner's emergence in the Biden camp gave the White House hopeful a total of eight Democratic state representatives on a supporter list that also includes three Texas senators and four Democrats in the state's congressional delegation.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has reaped endorsements from a half-dozen Democratic state representatives in Texas where State Senator Jose Rodriguez of El Paso and U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio are backing her bid for the party's nomination for president this year.

The group of Democrats who are on the Biden team includes State Senators Nathan Johnson of Dallas, Beverly Powell of Burleson and Joe Menendez of San Antonio. Democratic State Reps. Rafael Anchia of Dallas, Garnet Coleman of Houston, Ryan Guillen of Rio Grande City, Oscar Longoria of Mission, Eddie Lucio III of Brownsville, Armando Martinez of Weslaco and Victoria Neave of Dallas.

Democratic U.S. Reps. Colin Allred of Dallas, Vicente Gonzalez of McAllen, Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas and Filemon Vela of Brownsville also have endorsed the Democrat who'd been the country's second highest ranking leader for eight years when Barack Obama had been the president.

Warren has garnered endorsements from Democratic State Reps. Sheryl Cole of Austin, Art Fierro of El Paso, Mary González of Clint, Joe Moody of El Paso, Shawn Thierry of Houston and Joe Moody of El Paso.

But Warren could be at risk of an exodus of Texas legislators to the Biden camp before voters here cast ballots in the Super Tuesday primary election here on March 3 if she doesn't fare well enough in Iowa, New Hampshire and the other states that are staging primary elections before Texans vote to cut into the lead that Biden has enjoyed throughout the past year in the national polling.

Warren had appeared to have substantial momentum last fall when a pair of polls showed her within five to 10 points of Biden in Texas where U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont had been running second until then. The most recent Texas survey that CNN conducted here in December found Biden pulling further ahead with 35 percent support compared to 15 percent for Sanders and only 13 percent for Warren.

Texas is widely viewed as the nation's most pivotal battleground in 2020 when Democrats have a realistic shot to carry the state for the first time in 44 years. The Democrats also have a chance to take the Texas House majority back with a net gain of eight or nine seats in November depending on the outcome of a special runoff election on Tuesday.

Zwiener - one of a dozen freshmen House Democrats who wrestled seats from the GOP in 2018 - is the only state lawmaker in a highly-competitive re-election race this year to take sides so far in the White House battle. But Allred also will be hoping that an early endorsement in a Democratic presidential battle that hadn't been decided doesn't backfire on his own bid for a new term in 2020 in a district where he's high on the Republican hit list after ousting a veteran GOP congressional member in the last cycle.


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