The “Lucky seven” who could change Texas and U.S. politics

Photo by Joan Brook for The Texas Tribune

Texas Democrats have a chance to make history this November by electing seven African American Democrats to serve in the United States House of Representatives: incumbents Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas (CD-30), Shelia Jackson Lee of Houston (CD-18), Al Green of Houston (CD-9), Marc Veasey of Fort Worth (CD-33) and challengers Shirley McKellar of Tyler (CD-1), Adrienne Bell of Houston (CD-14) and Collin Allred of Dallas (CD-32).

Seven African American Democratic U.S. Representatives from Texas would be almost twenty percent of the state’s 36-member House delegation. Not even California with its fifty-three member U.S. House Delegation would have more African American Democratic members. The seven from Texas would be more than double the three in the California delegation.

Not only could Texas Democrats make history by adding three new black members to Congress in November, but also by investing money and volunteers in support of McKellar and Bell on par with what is being invested in Allred and in Lizzie Pannill Fletcher. Democrats would increase the likelihood of Turning Texas Blue and electing members of our statewide ticket, including U.S. Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke, as a result of increased voter turnout.

In fact, state and national Democrats should invest heavily in all seven congressional districts in Texas where black Democrats are running for Congress. Doing that would also help increase black voter turnout in November. That turnout is going to be a key factor in Democrats winning statewide in Texas this November. Additionally, if the party can pick up three to four new congressional seats in Texas, it is much more likely to retake the U.S. House in November. If done right, Texas Democrats can help make it possible to, once again, have a Democratic Speaker of the U.S. House in 2019.

Some "experts" will say that investing in all these congressional districts in Texas is a waste of resources, but these are the same people who did not think Doug Jones could win a Senate seat in Alabama, and did not see Democrats almost winning back the Virginia House of Delegates last year. 

State and national Democrats should also invest in winning back the Texas House and electing a Democratic Speaker there. State Rep. Eric Johnson of Dallas has already officially announced his candidacy for Speaker. A Democratic Speaker could help move our state in a more inclusive and progressive direction and make sure that redistricting in Texas after the 2020 Census is a fair process that protects the voting rights of all Texans and does not discriminate against black, Hispanic or Asian Texans.

What happens in Texas this November will help shape the direction of the Texas Legislature and Congress in 2019 and beyond.

For Democrats in Texas, winning in November begins by investing in all seven districts where black Democrats are running for Congress in this year's general election.