September 27, 2020

Democrats position for battle in former GOP strongholds in Collin, Denton

Tight margins last election cycle are making the suburban Texas House seats battlegrounds in the 2020 contest for control of the chamber.

Narrow wins in Collin and Denton Counties last election cycle make these competitive battleground seats in 2020. Two GOP House members are fighting to hold onto their seats, while Carrollton Democrat Michelle Beckley is battling to keep the district she wrested from Republican control in 2018.

Early returns showed Beckley with a strong lead over Democratic primary challenger Paige Dixon, according to unofficial results. Meanwhile, Republican Kronda Thimesch, a Lewisville school board member who was endorsed by Gov. Greg Abbott, maintained a comfortable lead over civil engineer Nancy Cline.

The contest, which has already drawn hefty spending by Abbott, will likely be heated through November. Beckley shocked many in 2018 when she ousted a Republican who far outspent her in the traditionally conservative House District 65. The bird shop owner won in 2018 by fewer than three percentage points, signaling the seat still is in play.

“The voter turnout exceeded expectations for Denton County Democrats,” Beckley said in a statement Tuesday. She said she was “confident we have the momentum to keep this seat blue in 2020.”

Thimesch claimed a win, saying she and her family are “humbled by the strong margin of victory and so grateful to this district and the hundreds of volunteers who made tonight possible.”

In Collin County, a traditional GOP stronghold that is becoming a battleground in 2020, one Democratic primary appeared headed to a runoff.

Attorney Tom Adair took an early lead in the four-way Democratic primary for House District 67, which stretches from Plano to Allen. Attorney Rocio Gosewehr Hernandez and real estate agent Lorenzo Sanchez were close behind, with former legislative staffer Anthony Lo trailing, according to unofficial results. If no candidate wins a majority, the top two would go into a runoff election on May 26.

The eventual winner will face off against Republican Rep. Jeff Leach of Plano in November.

In another Collin County Democratic primary, retiree Sharon Hirsch maintained a strong lead over opponent Aimee Garza Lopez, a neurologist. Hirsch came within 400 votes of besting the Republican incumbent Rep. Matt Shaheen in 2018. Shaheen is running for reelection in the House District 66, which covers West Plano.

Democrats need to flip 9 more seats to take control of the state House. However, Republicans are mounting a spirited defense, with Abbott already pouring money into several races.

Suburban districts outside Dallas are key in 2020, where growing black and Latino populations are helping to turn longtime Republican strongholds purple, political scientists have said.

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