Democrats Hope 2020 Is the Year They Flip the Texas House
In 2014, when John Shanks moved to Collin County, there were about 20 dedicated Democratic Party volunteers. Now Mr. Shanks, the executive director of the county’s Democratic Party, has several hundred — so many that he has trouble finding work for them all.
“We’ve had about four years of people getting used to the idea that their vote really can matter,” Mr. Shanks said. “We’ve grown into realizing that you can make a difference. And as they realize that and wake up, things become more competitive.”
Dem's Fight for the House Will Shape Texas Politics for Years
The number is etched in Sharon Hirsch’s mind: 391. That’s how many votes she lost her 2018 race against Republican state Representative Matt Shaheen by, in Collin County’s House District 66. If 10 more people in each precinct had voted for her, she calculated, she would have won. “It really stunk to lose. I’m not gonna lie,” Hirsch says.
The district is diversifying and she believes his politics are out of step with a community that prides itself on strong public schools and good parks, and is turned off by the rise of right-wing Trumpism. Apart from the 2019 school finance bill that passed out of the House near-unanimously, “I can’t think of any bill that he has supported that has been something good for the community,” she says of Shaheen, one of the most conservative members of the Texas House and a leading proponent of the “bathroom bill” legislation targeting transgender people. (Shaheen declined to be interviewed by the Observer.)
Where Could Texas Actually Turn Blue in 2020
This is the first time that [Lorenzo] Sanchez, a Mexican American real estate agent, has run for office. He is soft-spoken and earnest, not the prototype of a Texas politician. Still, he placed second in the March primary and eked out a win in the runoff, which was delayed until July because of the coronavirus. Sanchez, who is gay, says his parents spoke Spanish at home and that he didn’t learn English until he started attending public schools. He was 12 when his family moved from the Midwest to Plano, in the district he now hopes to represent. After attending college in Chicago and working briefly in Denver, he settled back in the district in 2018, when his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. He launched his campaign in July 2019.
“I don’t think I ever thought I would ever go and get involved in politics,” he admits. “I’m doing this for the people I care about who have been getting the short end of the stick for too long.”
Sanchez’s campaign looks bootstrapped. He posts selfie videos of himself chatting and driving. His nieces, one with epilepsy, make cameos in other videos. He jokes about his roommate, Liz, feeding him. Yet while Leach maintains an overall fundraising lead of about $200,000, Sanchez raised $693,000 between July 5 and Sept. 24, surpassing the $532,000 Leach raised in about the same period.