Dallas Democrats Vying to Unseat Longtime GOP Rep. Pete Sessions Will Head to Runoff

WASHINGTON — Democrats will need an extra round to pick their choice to take on Dallas Rep. Pete Sessions, an 11-term Republican facing his stiffest political battle in over a decade.Civil rights attorney Colin Allred was poised to secure a spot in May's Democratic runoff election, where he would be joined by one other contender from the seven-person primary race in parts of Dallas and Collin counties.While Allred had a comfortable lead, former TV reporter Brett Shipp, former U.S. Agriculture Department official Lillian Salerno and former U.S. State Department official Ed Meier were locked in a close race for second."People responded to the fact that I'm from this area, that I'm running in my home, that I grew up here and that I know what people are facing," said Allred, a former professional football player.The outcome highlights an unusually active primary season that was driven by a charged political atmosphere all across the U.S. and a high degree of turnover in Texas' congressional delegation.Sessions' district is one of three GOP seats that Texas Democrats have marked as top pick-up opportunities. The others belong to Houston Rep. John Culberson and San Antonio Rep. Will Hurd, who will also face serious Democratic challengers in November.Then there are the eight openings created by the departures of Texas congressmen, including Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas, and Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Plano.Some of those contests offer better insight than others into the electoral dynamics of the Trump era. The Democratic effort to unseat Sessions could prove to be the bellwether, particularly since the powerful House Rules Committee chairman hasn't seen real political resistance in years.Sessions, who coasted to victory in his GOP primary, has not shied away from the challenge."This election is about deciding between a Nancy Pelosi liberal Democrat — trillion-dollar spending increases, higher taxes, single payer healthcare system, and "free" college for all — or the values that are embodied by North Texans," he said in a statement.But Democrats set their sights on the Dallas-based seat after Hillary Clinton bested Donald Trump in the district in the 2016 presidential election.Seven Democrats piled into the primary contest, with the field being rounded out by attorney George Rodriguez, retired engineer Ron Marshall and writer Todd Maternowski.While the district still tilts conservative, Democrats are champing at the bit."For some time, the people of this area have been hoping for a credible challenger to come forward and take on Pete Sessions," Allred said. "For years and years now, he's been so disconnected from this area."District 3: State Sen. Van Taylor bested two opponents to win the Republican nomination, making him Johnson's heir apparent.The district, encompassing much of Collin County, covers one of the most conservative swaths of Texas. Though the seat is open for the first time in two decades, Taylor avoided some of the more intense intraparty competition seen elsewhere in the state.On the Democratic side, lawyer Lorie Burch was leading three opponents.District 4: Heath Rep. John Ratcliffe defeated GOP challenger John Cooper, a land surveyor from Sulphur Springs, in the heavily Republican district. On the Democratic side, businesswoman Catherine Krantz was poised to advance to the general election.District 5: State Rep. Lance Gooden and political consultant Bunni Pounds appeared to be heading to a GOP runoff after battling in a packed primary competition to fill Hensarling's seat.Gooden, who lives in Terrell, touted his appeal to the rural part of the district that stretches into East Texas. Pounds, meanwhile, had the support of Hensarling, her former boss who spent the last 15 years representing the district.The GOP winner will be favored in the general election, which will include Democrat Dan Wood.District 6: In the race to replace Barton, former Tarrant County Tax Assessor Ron Wright and former Navy pilot Jake Ellzey appeared likely to advance from a crowded GOP primary field to a runoff.The Republicans mostly distanced themselves from Barton, who announced his retirement from the conservative district — which includes parts of Tarrant County and Navarro and Ellis counties — late last year amid scandal over lewd text messages he sent to a lover.On the Democratic side, 2016 Democratic nominee Ruby Faye Woolridge was heading toward a runoff against newcomer Jana Lynne Sanchez.District 24: Coppell Rep. Kenny Marchant cruised to victory over software developer Johnathan Davidson in the GOP primary. Accountant Jan McDowell was leading the Democratic contest in the longtime Republican stronghold.District 26: Pilot Point Rep. Michael Burgess scored an easy victory over businesswoman Veronica Birkenstock in the GOP primary, making him the favorite to secure a ninth term. Attorney Will Fisher was leading the Democratic primary over businesswoman Linsey Fagan.District 30: Dallas Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson trounced two opponents — filmmaker Eric Williams and former state Rep. Barbara Mallory Caraway — in the Democratic primary. Johnson, who's represented the district since 1993, will face no Republican opposition in November.Staff writers Katie Leslie and Tristan Hallman contributed to this report.  Continue reading...

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