Almost every political newsletter and many political news writers are now publishing their list of legislative races to watch. Perhaps they want to get a head start on the real campaign season that usually starts after Labor Day and ends in the Nov. 2 general election. After all, pundits have to opine about something; that’s what they do. They identify races where the incumbent or incumbent party may lose, but the list changes from time to time based on events.
For example, two weeks ago no one had House District 113 on the races to watch list. Long-time incumbent Joe Driver (R-Garland) was not considered to have a serious challenge by Democratic candidate Jamie Dorris. Then Driver was accused and admitted to billing both his campaign and the state for travel expenses over a several year period and suddenly HD 113 is on the races to watch list.
If you are interested in the races to watch this early in the election season, the Texas Tribune lists 21 races they consider real contests. It may be a sad commentary that out of 150 House races only 21 are worth watching, but then 91 of the candidates have no opposition at all. There are evidently no Senate races worth watching.
Few elections are interesting because most districts are drawn so that the opposing party has no chance of winning in the first place. Since it has been almost 10 years since the districts were drawn, there have been a few demographic changes in this the fastest growing state in the union, but even with those changes my guess is only about half of the Tribune list will really be worth watching.
If the 21 races were all to be won by the challenger, the Republicans would pick up seven seats in the Texas House, a substantial increase to their current six seat majority. That won’t happen. And between now and Election Day, the “races to watch” will likely change – campaigns have a way of doing that; ask Joe Driver.