Changing Population, Democrat Energy Make Race a Tough Fight

The terms “toss up” and “bellwether” risk overuse in commentary swirling about the race for Texas’ 32nd Congressional District.

It’s hard, however, to ignore these expressions in the fight for the 32nd, which covers Preston Hollow and the Park Cities.

Democrat challenger Colin Allred, a civil rights lawyer who served in the Obama Administration and a former NFL linebacker, faces incumbent Pete Sessions, a high-ranking House Republican.

Sessions, who chairs the powerful House Rules Committee, has won every contest for the seat since 2004. However, some observers say a noticeable surge of Democrat energy suggests this election could be tight.

Consider 2016 when Sessions ran unopposed, but voters in the 32nd narrowly favored Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, 49 to 46 percent. This district carried John McCain and Mitt Romney in the two previous presidential elections.

An explanation comes from Cal Jillson, an SMU political science professor often interviewed as an expert by state and national media. He said the shift results from an energized block of minority voters.

Also, observers say corporate relocations to North Dallas brought new voters to the 32nd district—many of them young adults from Democrat stronghold states like California.

Thus, Democrat leaders put a bullseye on Texas’ 32nd as one of 23 seats they need to help regain majority power in the House, Jillson said.

“So, yeah,” he said of the race, “it’s a bellwether.”

Despite his recent entry into politics, many judge Allred to be a formidable first-time candidate and a strong fundraiser, including Jillson.

The professor added, however, that the GOP faithful doesn’t want to lose the 32nd. Jillson said Sessions already has a massive war chest that will get even bigger down the home stretch.

He predicted the incumbent would win, but it could be a very tough fight.

“The ongoing demographic change in the district has diluted some of Pete’s advantage,” Jillson said. “I think this race certainly is the most difficult he’s had since he defeated Martin Frost 14 years ago.”

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