North Texas

Democrats Join Increasingly Crowded Races in Deep-Red Texas

Former TV journalist, Dallas County sheriff, former governor's son enter statewide races

Some new faces hope to end a long political drought for Democrats in Texas.

On Thursday, former WFAA-TV journalist Brett Shipp officially announced his candidacy. He's running against five other Democrats who are hoping to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions in the 32nd Congressional District.

Shipp will join Colin Allred, Ed Meier, George Rodriguez, Lillian Salerno and Ron Marshall in the March Democratic primary – attempting to gain an edge in a district that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Elsewhere in the state, Andrew White, son of the late Gov. Mark White, added his name to the list of a half-dozen Democrats trying to unseat Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, including Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez.

They are among the latest to enter competitive statewide races in Texas that are growing crowded with Democrats.

Cal Jillson, professor of political science at Southern Methodist University, sees it as a sign the state's Democratic Party is hoping a stormy national political climate will lead to shakeup in Texas.

"Lots of candidates are saying things feel unstable now. They may feel more unstable a year from now when an election takes place and incumbents might be running into difficulty and I might be able to slip through," Jillson said.

Jillson adds the odds are stacked against Democrats in those statewide races. Even popular Democrats like U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke will face a tough fight to unseat U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. Still, their campaigns may serve to build momentum for the party in a deeply red state.

"They see themselves as building through several election cycles to becoming competitive, but that doesn't mean Democrats can't win some races – particularly local races here in the area," Jillson said.

He expects the down-ballot candidates to benefit in the next election cycle, especially in several Texas House races and local elections in North Texas.

"At the top of the ticket, Republicans are very comfortable there. They're secure," Jillson said. "But, in a lot of municipal races, Texas House races, there will be some Democratic wins."

The Texas primaries are March 6, 2018. The general election is Nov. 6, 2018.

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