August 12, 2019

Races with Republicans Whose Names Have Come Up
in Speaker Scandal Saga Rise in 2020 Watch List Ranks

Texas Legislature & Congress Contest Ratings

Texas Congress Races to Watch in 2020 Election

By Mike Hailey

GOP State Rep. Morgan Meyer might have substantially more to lose than to gain as the legislator who has the high-wire task of spearheading a probe into a Texas House leadership scandal that should propel him to the top of the Democrats 2020 target list in light of the role that he'll have in it.

The fight for the seat that Meyer wants to keep had been ranked second on the Capitol Inside Races to Watch with Texas House Republicans on the defensive in 2020 in a district in the heart of Dallas where he dodged lightning last fall with a razor-thin victory over a Democratic challenger.

But the House District 108 battle has vaulted into the top spot on the watch list as Meyer prepares to convene the General Investigating Committee that he chairs on Monday in a hearing that will focus on bribery allegations that conservative crusader Michael Quinn Sullivan has hurled at GOP Speaker Dennis Bonnen.

Meyer is one of more than a half-dozen Republicans whose re-election bids have been elevated in the House battlefield rankings after having their names dragged into the mind-boggling fiasco that erupted last month when the Empower Texans CEO blew the whistle on a GOP colleague backstabbing scheme that Bonnen peddled to him at a confidential meeting at the Capitol on June 12. Sullivan contends that Bonnen sought to enlist his help in a Republican colleague targeting scheme in exchange for House press credentials for associates at a subsidiary.

The list of legislators who've been associated with the furor through no apparent fault of their own includes State Reps. Matt Shaheen of Plano, Jeff Leach of Allen, Craig Goldman of Fort Worth and Steve Allison of San Antonio - a quartet of Republicans who are competing for new terms in races that are rated among the top 10 in terms of Democratic takeover odds less than 15 months before the next general election.

Allison - a freshman who was elected last year as former Speaker Joe Straus' successor in the Alamo City - is one of 10 GOP lawmakers whose names were on a primary election hit list that Bonnen and State Rep. Dustin Burrows of Lubbock shopped to Sullivan in the conversation in the speaker's office two months ago.

Burrows, the House Republican Caucus chairman, appears to be out of the Democrats' reach as a legislator who's based in Lubbock in a district that's a dark shade of red. But Burrows might have invited a primary challenge as a product of the part he played in the GOP primary hit list pitch. Bonnen already has drawn at least one foe within the GOP in a coastal district that's almost as Republican as the area that Burrows represents.

But the House District 121 race that features Allison in his first re-election campaign has been bumped from 12th to 10th in the 2020 battlefield rankings in a district where Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz defeated Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke in November by one-fifth of one percentage point.

Two other Republicans who Bonnen wanted to oust with Sullivan's help - State Reps. John Raney of College Station and Phil Stephenson of Wharton - are seeking new terms in contests that are ranked 15th and 23rd on the races to watch list after initial ratings last month of 20 and 27.

The Collin County battles that feature Shaheen and Leach on the defensive have both jumped one spot in the rankings in districts where Democrats have their third and fourth best shots at flipping House seats from red to blue in 2020. Sullivan inserted Leach, Shaheen and Goldman into the mushrooming scandal saga when he accused them and three other House Republicans of condoning criminal and unethical activity with decisions to stand by Bonnen while refusing to listen to an audio that the activist recorded during the primary attack strategy discussion two months ago. The fight for the Tarrant County seat that Goldman is seeking again has been bumped up one spot in the rankings as well in a contest that's ninth on the watch list now.

One of the Republicans who Sullivan portrayed as a passive Bonnen defender - freshman State Rep. Mayes Middleton of Wallisville - is gearing for his first re-election bid in a race that's moved three spots up the watch list to the number 19 position.

Republican State Rep. Matt Krause of Haslet will be gunning for a new term in a Tarrant County contest that's climbed from 13th to 11th on the watch list in light of the incumbent's role as a General Investigating Committee member. Meyer and Krause could find their re-election hopes set back if the investigating panel takes any action that appears to be favorable for Bonnen.

Meyer's rise to the crowning spot on the list knocked the race that features GOP State Rep. Dwayne Bohac of Houston as the incumbent down to number two in the House battlefield rankings with more than a year to go before the vote.

President Donald Trump had lost to Democrat Hillary Clinton in Bohac's district in 2016 before O'Rourke defeated Cruz there by a half-dozen percentage points last fall. O'Rourke and Clinton won by 15 points and 6 points respectively in the district where Meyer was elected initially in 2014. O'Rourke - a former congressmen who's a candidate for president now - beat Cruz by almost 6 percentage points in 2018 in the districts that Shaheen and Leach represent.

While Bohac's name hasn't surfaced in the mud bath that has Bonnen at the center of it, the veteran lawmaker could be a victim of shifting demographics that favor the Democrats in a district where he edged out a Democrat by 47 votes out of more than 48,000 that were cast in the House District 138 race in 2018.

Meyer - like Bohac - barely survived a blue wave at the polls in November when the third-term Dallas lawmaker staved off a Democratic opponent in a contest that he won last fall by 220 votes in a district where more than 78,000 were cast. O'Rourke crushed Cruz in HD 108 in 2018 by more than 15 percentage points after Clinton beat Trump there by 6 points two years earlier.

The race for the seat that Republican State Rep. Jonathan Stickland of Bedford is giving up without a re-election campaign next year is ranked fifth on the revised watch list. Contests in districts where GOP State Reps. Angie Chen Button of Garland, Sarah Davis of Houston and Bill Zedler of Arlington have been planning to play defense are rated among the 10 races that Democrats have the best shots to flip in 2020.

The Democrats have been guardedly optimistic of taking the House back after almost 18 years as the chamber's minority party with Trump leading the GOP ticket as a president who's been major down-ballot baggage for Republicans in the Lone Star State in the last two election cycles. The Bonnen scandal that's destined to escalate could vastly improve the Democrats' chances for a west wing takeover next year.


1 Gina Calanni
HD 132 - Katy
Cruz 47.9% O'Rourke 51.4%
Trump 49.7% Clinton 45.4%
2 Michelle Beckley
HD 65 - Carrollton
Cruz 45.0% O'Rourke 54.1%
Trump 48.1% Clinton 46.1%
3 Jon Rosenthal
HD 135 - Houston
Cruz 46.4% O'Rourke 52.9%
Trump 48.6% Clinton 46.6%
4 Erin Zwiener
HD 45 - Driftwood
Cruz 43.8% O'Rourke 55.1%
Trump 48.8% Clinton 44.2%
5 Vikki Goodwin
HD 47 - Austin
Cruz 44.1% O'Rourke 54.9%
Trump 46.7% Clinton 46.5%
6 James Talarico
HD 52 - Round Rock
Cruz 43.1% O'Rourke 55.7%
Trump 46.7% Clinton 45.3%
7 John Turner
HD 114 - Dallas
Cruz 42.1% O'Rourke 57.1%
Trump 43.2% Clinton 52.1%
8 Rhetta Bowers
HD 113 - Rowlett
Cruz 43.8% O'Rourke 55.5%
Trump 47.2% Clinton 49.1%
9 Ana-Maria Ramos
HD 102 - Richardson
Cruz 40.6% O'Rourke 58.5%
Trump 42.7% Clinton 52.3%
10 Julie Johnson
HD 115 - Farmers Branch
Cruz 40.9% O'Rourke 58.2%
Trump 43.6% Clinton 51.5%
11 John Bucy
HD 136 - Austin
Cruz 40.6% O'Rourke 58.1%
Trump 44.2% Clinton 46.7%
12 Terry Meza
HD 105 - Irving
Cruz 40.5% O'Rourke 58.7%
Trump 43.6% Clinton 52.1%
13 Victoria Neave
HD 107 - Dallas
Cruz 40.1% O'Rourke 59.1%
Trump 43.4% Clinton 52.4%
14 Philip Cortez
HD 117 - San Antonio
Cruz 40.7% O'Rourke 58.3%
Trump 41.5% Clinton 52.4%
15 Mary Ann Perez
HD 144 - Houston
Cruz 37.9% O'Rourke 61.4%
Trump 38.3% Clinton 57.6%

2018 U.S. Senate & 2016 President Election Results
Ranked on Partisan
Turnover Odds
1 Morgan Meyer
HD 108 - Dallas
Cruz 42.0% O'Rourke 57.2
Trump 44.0% Clinton 50.3%
2 Dwayne Bohac
HD 138 - Houston
Cruz 46.4% O'Rourke 52.7%
Trump 47.5% Clinton 47.6%
3 Matt Shaheen
HD 66 - Plano
Cruz 46.8% O'Rourke 52.5%
Trump 48.7% Clinton 45.5%
4 Jeff Leach
HD 67 - Allen
Cruz 46.8% O'Rourke 52.3%
Trump 49.5% Clinton 43.9%
5 *Jonathan Stickland
HD 92 - Bedford
Cruz 50.8% O'Rourke 48.3%
Trump 54.3% Clinton 42.2%
6 Angie Chen Button
HD 112 - Garland
Cruz 44.8% O'Rourke 54.4%
Trump 47.1% Clinton 48.3%
7 Sarah Davis
HD 134 - Houston
Cruz 39.0% O'Rourke 60.3%
Trump 39.3% Clinton 54.7%
8 Bill Zedler
HD 96 - Arlington
Cruz 49.7% O'Rourke 49.5%
Trump 53.4% Clinton 42.3%
9 Craig Goldman
HD 97 - Fort Worth
Cruz 50.6% O'Rourke 48.6%
Trump 51.8% Clinton 42.1%
10 Steve Allison
HD 121- San Antonio
Cruz 49.4% O'Rourke 49.7%
Trump 50.8% Clinton 42.7%
11 Matt Krause
HD 93 - Fort Worth
Cruz 50.9% O'Rourke 48.2%
Trump 54.4% Clinton 40.0%
12 Lynn Stucky
HD 64 - Sanger
Cruz 49.3% O'Rourke 49.8%
Trump 53.9% Clinton 39.5%
13 Rick Miller
HD 26 - Sugar Land
Cruz 48.9% O'Rourke 50.5%
Trump 50.4% Clinton 45.5%
14 *John Zerwas
HD 28 - Richmond
Cruz 51.2% O'Rourke 48.1%
Trump 52.8% Clinton 42.7%
15 John Raney
HD 14 - College Station
Cruz 50.6% O'Rourke 48.4%
Trump 53.2% Clinton 38.1%
16 Tony Tinderholt
HD 94 - Arlington
Cruz 51.1% O'Rourke 47.9%
Trump 53.9% Clinton 40.5%
17 Sam Harless
HD 126 - Houston
Cruz 51.5% O'Rourke 47.8%
Trump 52.6% Clinton 42.7%
18 Brad Buckley
HD 54- Salado
Cruz 50.1% O'Rourke 49.0%
Trump 50.5% Clinton 43.6%
19 Mayes Middleton
HD 23 - Wallisville
Cruz 55.2% O'Rourke 44.0%
Trump 55.7% Clinton 40.7%
20 Jim Murphy
HD 133 - Houston
Cruz 54.2% O'Rourke 45.0%
Trump 54.2% Clinton 40.8%
21 J.M. Lozano
HD 43 - Kingsville
Cruz 55.3% O'Rourke 44.1%
Trump 52.9% Clinton 43.6%
22 Ed Thompson
HD 29 - Pearland
Cruz 52.3% O'Rourke 47.0%
Trump 54.5% Clinton 41.0%
23 Phil Stephenson
HD 85 - Wharton
Cruz 54.7% O'Rourke 44.7%
Trump 55.9% Clinton 40.9%
24 Dennis Paul
HD 129 - Houston
Cruz 54.0% O'Rourke 45.2%
Trump 55.0% Clinton 39.8%
25 Todd Hunter
HD 32 - Corpus Christi
Cruz 52.1% O'Rourke 47.0%
Trump 53.3% Clinton 41.9%
26 Jared Patterson
HD 106 - Frisco
Cruz 55.0% O'Rourke 44.2%
Trump 59.3% Clinton 35.6%
27 Valoree Swanson
HD 150- Spring
Cruz 57.0% O'Rourke 42.3%
Trump 58.7% Clinton 36.3%
28 Lyle Larson
HD 122 - San Antonio
Cruz 55.7% O'Rourke 43.4%
Trump 56.8% Clinton 37.2%
29 Candy Noble
HD 89 - Lucas
Cruz 55.6% O'Rourke 43.5%
Trump 57.9% Clinton 35.4%
30 John Frulllo
HD 84 - Lubbock
Cruz 56.0% O'Rourke 43.1%
Trump 59.1% Clinton 34.8%



* Not Seeking Re-Election


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