A remarkable thing is happening in Central Texas.
Just a few months ago, Texas House District 31, located in two counties north of Austin, was considered a "safe" seat for the Republican Party.
That is no longer true. M.J. Hegar (wife, mother, and military veteran) has shocked the pundits by making the district one in which the incumbent Republican (John Carter) just might be unseated! The seat is still rated by pundits as "leaning" or "likely" Republican, but no one now considers it a "safe" seat anymore. And Hegar has just completed a series of ads that will be released soon, and they could take the seat into the toss-up category.
Here is just some of what the Texas Tribune had to say about this race:
By force of her personal story and fundraising prowess, Hegar, a military veteran, has put this traditionally Republican stronghold of a House District on the midterm map. . . .
Since he was first elected in 2002, Carter has cruised to re-election. The district's voting history would normally suggest a similar outcome this year. But Democrats are seeing momentum in races across Texas and the country and hoping Hegar might turn out to be the right Democrat at the right time to flip the seat. . . .
Hegar blew Carter out of the water in fundraising over the summer largely on the strength of a biographical viral video. The 3-minute clip highlighted her military service, including being shot down by the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2009, as well as her successful bid to change the military’s policy on women in combat. It quickly gained more than 2 million views on YouTube and turbocharged Hegar's fundraising. Last month, she reported raising $1.1 million in the second quarter, four times Carter's sum over the same period. She also had a $300,000 cash-on-hand advantage. . . .
There are a few reasons some in GOP circles fear a perfect storm is brewing against Carter. Perhaps the one quietly discussed the most is that the mechanics, fundraising and tactics of modern campaigning have changed dramatically since his first successful run more than 15 years ago and he hasn't kept up. Also, Democrat Beto O'Rourke's spirited bid against U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is beginning to spook Republicans about how a potential surge in Democratic turnout might impact down-ballot races just like Carter's.
The shifting demographics of this district — particularly in suburban Williamson County — are also raising some alarm bells. While still considered a Republican district, it was redder when Republican officials drew its lines seven years ago. If a Democratic midterm wave sweeping across the country did reach Central Texas, could the district possibly flip? . . .
Carter is a senior member of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee. In political terms, this means that the House GOP campaign arm relies on him to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars every cycle to help other candidates.
But in his most recent campaign finance report, Carter shifted from a donor member — one who sends money to vulnerable members — to a recipient member. About a dozen U.S. House Republicans, including U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, donated money from their campaigns to Carter’s re-election effort. . . .
And so Carter looks to the fall for what could be the fight of his life.