AUSTIN (KXAN) — Both political parties recognize it: Texas is a swing state for the 2020 election. On the heels of the closest statewide race in decades, the Texas Democratic Party launched an effort to oust longtime incumbent Senator John Cornyn.
Boosted by recent fundraising efforts, Manny Garcia, Executive Director of the Texas Democratic Party tells KXAN they will begin a “war room” against Cornyn: new staff will be ramped up in the fields of data, communications, field, and opposition research.
“It will be the biggest battleground state in the country. The Texas Senate race is a top tier race and Sen. Cornyn is incredibly vulnerable,” said Garcia, “With all of that interest coming together. We’re going to have the resources necessary to make sure everybody knows what’s at stake in this election.”
Garcia wouldn’t detail specifics on fundraising but said it would be a “multi-million dollar” effort, bolstered by small-dollar online fundraising that has become the norm in democratic politics, mixed with national resources that come when six Congressional seats are targeted by the Democratic National Campaign Committee.
In response to the news, Sen. Cornyn’s campaign manager, John Jackson, wrote to KXAN, “Only the Democrat party would praise themselves for doing what should be their job. Texans won’t be fooled by their million from California and New York.”
In a memo, the Democratic party outlined their goal; the top being “define Cornyn before he defines himself.” That measure piggybacks on two recent polls showing a statewide race in Texas is “essentially tied” and another showing a large swath of Texans doesn’t know enough about Cornyn to make an opinion of him. Garcia hopes to “reveal him for what he is — a coward, afraid of shadows on his right and left.”
A challenger for Cornyn has not yet emerged but Congressman Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, and Williamson County veteran “MJ” Hegar have openly considered the idea. Cornyn’s campaign has already begun a campaign to define Castro – pointing to votes on Hurricane Harvey and support of the “Green New Deal.”
Senator Cornyn is one of the highest ranking members among Republican Senators and the Texas Republican Party is confident their side will win out in November 2020.
“In his senior level position in the Senate, he has done a fantastic job representing Texas, standing up for Texas. I have no doubt that he’ll make that case well,” said James Dickey, Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas.
Like Cornyn’s campaign, Dickey said this update is what statewide parties should be doing in the first place.
“We’ve always known how critical it is to earn the vote of every Texan. I’m glad to see the democrats waking up to that,” said Dickey.
The state GOP will now be focused on winning back more than a dozen seats they lost to Democrats in 2018.
This all sets up a battle in Texas suburban counties where both political parties recognize the swing voters live in Hays, Williamson, Fort Bend, Tarrant, Denton, and Collin Counties. Rural areas went big for Republicans. Urban areas went big for Democrats.
“Everywhere in the country you saw college-educated voters, you saw voters moving into new suburban districts, come to the democratic party. The democratic party earned their trust,” said Garcia.
In 2020, Texas will see some competitive races in places they haven’t before.