Joe Biden Debate Crash Could Derail
Dems' High Expectations for House

Capitol Inside
July 3, 2024

The Democrats' hopes for significant gains on the critical Texas House battlefield could be sinking fast as a consequence of President Joe Biden's floundering since an abysmal performance at the debate with Donald Trump last week.

Texas Democrats who thought the storm would pass got a jarring wake up call on Tuesday when veteran U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Austin urged Biden to call off a re-election bid to clear the path for Vice-President Kamala Harris to lead the ticket in November.

Doggett - a former Texas senator and state Supreme Court judge - implored Biden to follow the lead of the most successful Texas Democrat in history and to bow out of the race before it's too late.

“I represent the heart of a congressional district once represented by Lyndon Johnson,” Doggett said in a statement. “Under very different circumstances, he made the painful decision to withdraw. President Biden should do the same.”

Democrats in potentially competitive state House races here woke up on Wednesday to headlines on polls that suggest that Trump is on track for a landslide victory in the general election despite the fact that he lied his way through the CNN debate and only won because Biden did so bad.

Trump has been major baggage for the Republicans in Texas and beyond since emerging as the party ruler in his first White House race. That's a fact that's uncontrovertible based on historical election data. But the minority party nominees for the House here face the prospect for a potential perfect storm if Democrats at the national level fail to unite with no time to waste behind a consensus presidential candidate. Doggett appeared to be speaking for the vast majority of Democrats who love Biden but have decided in the past six days he no longer has a realistic chance for a rebound.

A replacement for Biden at the top of the ticket could give the Democratic nominees a spark in House races in which they'd appeared to have an edge after the current president had closed the gap in the national and battleground state polling in the weeks leading up to the debate. But potential Plan B contenders like the Democratic governors of California and Michigan - Gavin Newsom and Gretchen Whitmer - may be able to give down-ballot nominees in Texas more juice than a VP who was predictably invisible for the past four years.

The Capitol Inside crystal ball see Democrats in position to pick up six or seven seats in the lower chamber in Austin almost a month ago when Biden caught Trump in polls and seemed poised to pass him. No one - after all - had ever been elected as the American president as a convicted felon who paid hush money to an porn actor.

All bets are off now - however- as a consequence of Biden's bombing on the stage in Georgia last Thursday night. The forecast - while historically blurry and subject to dramatic change - has been adjusted for the time being to reflect a net gain of a two Texas House seats for the Democrats in 2024.

The uncertainty could be a drag on fundraising for Democrats who have a chance to be competitive in races for House seats that the GOP controls. The turmoil at the top of the ticket could be contagious if Democrats at the national level fail to get the train back on track and provide no real help in battles for state offices like the House.

Democrats in the worst case scenario could lose up to four House districts that Republicans have a chance to flip in November. Republican Don McLaughlin, the mayor of Uvalde, has the best shot on paper to turn a blue district red in a fight with Democrat Cecilia Castellano in the general election in an open race in a swath of Texas on the southwestern border.

The seats that GOP State Reps. John Lujan of San Antonio and Angie Chen Button of Garland are fighting to defend are the most vulnerable on paper for the Republicans. Democrat Kristian Carranza is taking aim at Lujan in a district that Beto O'Rourke carried in the 2022 general election in a losing fight with Governor Greg Abbott. Button faces her toughest test yet amid opposition from Democrat Averie Bishop - a former Miss Texas who's had the makings of a strong challenger in a district where Abbott edged O'Rourke by 1 percentage point.

GOP State Reps. Janie Lopez of San Benito and Morgan Meyer of Dallas are doing battle with Democrats Jonathan Gracia and Elizabeth Ginsberg in contests that the GOP could lose if the event of a national climate shift. Democrats have a shot at a seat in the San Antonio area where Republican Marc LaHood is facing Democrat Laurel Swift in a district where the GOP nominee unseated State Rep. Steve Allison in the March primary election.

Democratic State Reps. Eddie Morales of Eagle Pass and Mihaela Plesa of Dallas could be in some degree of added danger in potential swing districts where they're facing GOP challengers Robert Garza and Steve Kinard respectively in the fall.

more to come ...

General Election November 5, 2024 - Ranked on Turnover Odds
2022 Governor Race Results Abbott vs. O'Rourke
1 118 John Lujan (I) Kristian Carranza DEM +1.5
2 112 Angie C. Button (I) Averie Bishop GOP +1.4
3 80 Don McLaughlin Cecilia Castellano GOP +5.9
4 37 Janie Lopez (I) Jonathan Gracia GOP +3.4
5 121 Marc LaHood Laurel Jordan Swift GOP +3.7
6 108 Morgan Meyer (I) Elizabeth Ginsberg GOP +6.5
7 74 Robert Garza Eddie Morales (I) DEM +0.8
8 70 Steve Kinard Mihaela Plesa (I) DEM +6.9
9 52 Caroline H. Davila (I) Jennie Birkholz GOP +6.7
10 138 Lacey Hull (I) Stephanie Morales GOP +9.8
11 34 Denise Villalobos Solomon Ortiz Jr. DEM +4.7
12 63 Ben Bumgarner (I) Michelle Beckley GOP +11.0
13 94 Tony Tinderholt (I) Denise Wilkerson GOP +10.9
14 97 John McQueeney Carlos Walker GOP +11.8
15 122 Mark Dorazio (I) Kevin Geary GOP +10.7
16 96 David Cook (I) Ebony Turner GOP +11.6
17 61 Keresa Richardson Tony Adams GOP +13.4
18 66 Matt Shaheen (I) David Carstens GOP +15.1
19 67 Jeff Leach (I) Makala Washington GOP +14.0
20 65 Mitch Little Detrick Deburr GOP +15.2
    GOP Seats in Red DEM Seats in Blue  
    (I) = Incumbent    







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