February 11, 2020

Bush vs. Wall Heads Congress Primary Sizzler Card
with Incumbent Dem Duel with Liz Warren Pick Next

Texas House Incumbents Texas House Open  
Texas Senate Primary U.S. Senate Primary  

By Mike Hailey

A trio of Texas congressional hopefuls appear to be prohibitive favorites with massive money advantages in Democratic primary fights with foes in districts that they will be attempting to flip this fall. A couple of Republicans look like locks as well for nominations in U.S. House districts that the GOP hopes to reclaim in November based on the flow of cash into campaigns in the past year.

But the two hottest races for Congress here in the opening round of the 2020 elections feature a veteran Democratic incumbent in a duel with a heavily armed challenger and an epic showdown in an open contest where a Republican from the state's most famous political family is squaring off with a rival who's been on record spending spree.

Democrats Gina Ortiz Jones of San Antonio of Austin, Wendy Davis of Austin and Sri Preston Kulkarni of Sugar Land are in a group of seven contenders who raised seven-digit sums last year for races that Democrats are targeting on the congressional battlefield in Texas in 2020. None of those three have had any competition from primary opponents in the campaign chase for U.S. House races up to now.

A pair of Republicans in fall target races - Wesley Hunt of Houston and Genevieve Collins of Dallas - have the odds on their sides as well after amassing war chests that have been three times the size of those that their closest competitors in the donor dollar derby had in 2019. Addison Democrat Kim Olson - the party's nominee for agriculture commissioner in 2018 - raised almost three times more last year than the primary opponent with the second most amount of cash for an open U.S. House race in a Dallas area district that could go blue this fall.

With the primary election just three weeks away, however, a fight with 16 candidates for an open seat in the Houston area is crowning the Capitol Inside Races to Watch on the U.S. House battleground in Texas in 2020 with Kathaleen Wall and Pierce Bush as the marquee candidates for the GOP.

After falling short in a bid for a separate congressional seat in 2018, Wall raised more than $1.6 million last year in Congressional District 22 where she'd spent almost all of it by the time January rolled around. While Bush only reported contributions of $663,000 in 2019 after a late break from the gates, he doesn't need as much as the average candidate in light of name identification that's pure gold as a product of family that's produced two presidents and governors in Texas and Florida.

The second-ranked Texas congressional contest in round one has a pair of Laredo Democrats doing battle in a South Texas district where U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar of Laredo is doing battle with Jessica Cisneros in a race with a price tag that had reached the quarter-million dollar mark before the end of December.

Cuellar raised more than $1.5 million in 2019 - more than any other Texas incumbent with the exception of U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw - a freshman Republican who reaped almost $4.3 million in supporter donations last year for his first re-election race. But Cisneros established her credibility as a challenger in Congressional District 28 where Cuellar is based when she raised $979,000 last year with a boost from a pitch by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren as one of the Democrats' top-tier presidential contenders.

A three-way fight among Democrats who raised almost $2 million combined last year ranks third on the hot U.S. House battle list in round one in a potential swing district where Republican U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul of Austin is seeking a new term. Austin Democrats Pritesh Gandhi and Mike Siegel are competing against Shannon Hutcheson of Bastrop for a shot at McCaul this fall in a race that could be in the minority party's reach if a second consecutive blue wave rolls through the Lone Star State in 2020.

Gandhi and Hutcheson both raised more than $750,000 in 2019 before heading into January with $450,000 in reserve. Siegel - the 2018 Democratic nominee who lost to McCaul by 4 percentage points with minimal funding - reported donations last year of almost $439,000 for a comeback bid.

Ortiz Jones and Kulkarni also are attempting to bounce back in 2020 after congressional primary victories in the last cycle when they lost in close races to Republican incumbents who aren't running again this year. Ortiz Jones was the leading fundraiser by far last year in open U.S. House contests with contributions of almost $2.5 million before ending December with more than $2 million in the campaign bank. Kulkarni rounded up more than $1.1 million in 2019 in a district where his closest competitors in the fundraising department had about eight times less.

Davis - a former state senator from Fort Worth - generated more than $1.8 million last year after relocating to the Capital City for a fight in a district where rookie Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Roy of Austin will be on the defensive for the first time in a targeted race.

While Ortiz Jones is widely viewed as the frontrunner on both sides of the aisle in Congressional District 23, Olson has been the leading fundraiser with contributions of $837,000 last year in another open fight in Congressional District 24 where Candace Valenzuela of Dallas has raised nearly $331,000 in 2019 in a bid for a second primary runoff spot there.

The Democrats' 2018 nominee in CD 24 - Jan McDowell - didn't raise a sufficient amount of money last year to be viewed as competitive in a comeback race in a district where she came within 3 points of a monstrous upset 15 months ago in a fight with an incumbent Republican who's heading for the exit now.

Republicans Beth Van Duyne and Sunny Chaparala raised $586,000 and $331,000 respectively last year as the apparent frontrunners on their side of the aisle in round one in CD 24.

After rounding up more than $1.3 million from supporters in 2019, Hunt appears to be the strong betting favorite in a bid for the GOP nomination and a shot this fall at freshman Democratic U.S. Rep. Lizzie Pannill Fletcher of Houston. Collins raised almost $792,000 from contributors last year for a war chest that she supplemented with $124,000 in loans as the frontrunner in Congressional District 32 where she hopes to challenge freshman Democratic U.S. Rep. Colin Allred of Dallas in November.

Another Democratic primary winner in 2018 - Julie Oliver - appears to be the first-round favorite at this point in a bid for a rematch this fall with Republican U.S. Rep. Michael Williams in Congressional District 25 where a blue tsunami is the minority party's only real hope.

Beth Van Duyne (R)
Congressional District 24
Total Donations: $586,105
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $435,382
Chris Ekstrom (R)
Congressional District 13
Total Donations: $30,816
Campaign Loans: $500,000
Cash on Hand: $175,765
Mike Siegel (D)
Congressional District 10
Total Donations: $438,900
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $151,560
Cindy Siegel (R)
Congressional District 7
Total Donations: $218,607
Campaign Loans: $206,954
Cash on Hand: $79,797
Sima Ladjevardian (D)
Congressional District 2
Total Donations: $407,781
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $377,746
Josh Winegarner (R)
Congressional District 13
Total Donations: $344,565
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $281,653
Floyd McLendon (R)
Congressional District 32
Total Donations: $333,355
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $158,252
Candace Valenzuela (D)
Congressional District 24
Total Donations: $330,773
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $141,776
Sunny Chaparala (R)
Congressional District 24
Total Donations: $3,916
Campaign Loans: $321,760
Cash on Hand: $300,826
Julie Oliver (D)
Congressional District 25
Total Donations: $323,944
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $129,826
Tony Gonzales (R)
Congressional District 23
Total Donations: $320,364
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $266,841
Greg Hill (R)
Congressional District 22
Total Donations: $305,306
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $178,430
Elisa Cardnell (D)
Congressional District 2
Total Donations: $284,374
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $90,603
Troy Nehls (R)
Congressional District 22
Total Donations: $208,747
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $129,241
Donna Imam (D)
Congressional District 31
Total Donations: $107,531
Campaign Loans: $100,000
Cash on Hand: $187,070
Renee Swann (R)
Congressional District 17
Total Donations: $25,425
Campaign Loans: $155,000
Cash on Hand: $158,362
Brandon Batch (R)
Congressional District 11
Total Donations: $175,422
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $106,346
J. Ross Lacy (R)
Congressional District 11
Total Donations: $173,929
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $53,390
Christine Mann (D)
Congressional District 31
Total Donations: $170,759
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $45,580
Jon Hollis (R)
Congressional District 32
Total Donations: $161,880
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $4,034
Nyanza Moore (D)
Congressional District 22
Total Donations: $142,528
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $1,154
Derrick Reed (D)
Congressional District 22
Total Donations: $142,458
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $38,261
Heidi Sloan (D)
Congressional District 25
Total Donations: $136,461
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $82,204
Raul Reyes Jr. (R)
Congressional District 23
Total Donations: $106,121
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $36,326
Jamie Berryhill (R)
Congressional District 11
Total Donations: $93,266
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $79,416
 
 

Texas Congress Primary
Races to Watch in 2020

Ranked on Competitive
Potential & Frontrunners

1

Congress District 22 - GOP
Pierce Bush
Kathaleen Wall
Troy Nehls
Greg Hill

2

Congress District 28 - Dem
Henry Cueller (Inc)
Jessica Cisneros

3

Congress District 10- Dem
Shannon Hutcheson
Pritesh Gandhi
Mike Siegel

4

Congress District 7 - GOP
Wesley Hunt
Cindy Siegel

5

Congress District 24 - Dem
Kim Olson
Candace Valenzuela

6

Congress District 24 - GOP
Beth Van Duyne
Sunny Chaparala

7

Congress District 17 - GOP
George Hindman
Renee Swan
Pete Sessions

8

Congress District 13 - GOP
Chris Ekstrom
Josh Winegarner

9

Congress District 32 - GOP
Genevieve Collins
Floyd McLendon
Jon Hollis

10

Congress District 13 - GOP
August Pfluger
J. Ross Lacy
Brandon Batch

11

Congress District 22 - Dem
Sri Preston Kulkarni
Derrick Reed
Nyanza Moore

12

Congress District 21 - Dem
Wendy Davis
Jennie Lou Leeder

13

Congress District 23 - Dem
Gina Ortiz Jones
Rosey Abuabara

14

Congress District 23 - GOP
Tony Gonzales
Raul Reyes Jr.

15

Congress District 25- Dem
Julie Oliver
Heidi Sloan

16

Congress District 2 - Dem
Sima Ladjevardian
Elisa Cardnell

17

Congress District 31 - GOP
John Carter (Inc)
Michael Williams

18

Congress District 31- Dem
Donna Iman
Christine Mann
Tammy Young

 

 

Congress Races to Watch
Primary Election Fundraising

January-December 2019
Campaign Loans
Cash December 31
 
Gina Ortiz Jones (D)
Congressional District 23
Total Donations: $2,454,733
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $2,028,187
Wendy Davis (D)
Congressional District 21
Total Donations: $1,846,371
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $1,214,794
Kathaleen Wall (R)
Congressional District 22
Total Donations: $1,604,971
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $583
Henry Cuellar (D-Inc)
Congressional District 28
Total Donations: $1,501,689
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $2,935,884
Wesley Hunt (R)
Congressional District 7
Total Donations: $1,327,789
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $808,341
August Pfluger (R)
Congressional District 11
Total Donations: $1,227,187
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $1,011,312
Sri Kulkarni (D)
Congressional District 22
Total Donations: $1,111,461
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $661,592
Jessica Cisneros (D)
Congressional District 28
Total Donations: $979,073
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $615,442
John Carter (R-Inc)
Congressional District 31
Total Donations: $938,565
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $773,979
Genevieve Collins (R)
Congressional District 32
Total Donations: $791,838
Campaign Loans: $124,400
Cash on Hand: $787,049
Kim Olson (D)
Congressional District 24
Total Donations: $837,148
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $504,667
Pritesh Gandhi (D)
Congressional District 10
Total Donations: $757,297
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $450,752
Shannon Hutcheson (D)
Congressional District 10
Total Donations: $750,978
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $455,577
Pierce Bush (R)
Congressional District 22
Total Donations: $663,097
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $640,850

Source: Federal
Election Commission

 

 

 

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