Lone Star State races heat up as Democrats target GOP seats

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- The ballot you cast this election could help determine which party is in power of Capitol Hill. Our Washington Reporter Alana Austin breaks down some of the Texas races that are heating up.

The Texas Senate race is one of the most closely-watched races in the country. Even if the GOP pulls it off, this race has some ripple effects and could help Democrats in the Lone Star state.

“The partisan leaning of the state is still very much Republican," says Michele Swers, a political scientist at Georgetown University.

The experts didn’t predict the fiercely competitive race between Republican Senator Ted Cruz and Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke. But Swers says O’Rourke’s popularity nationwide may not translate back home in Texas.

“It’s going to be a tough election for him," said Swers.

In midterm elections, the party in control of the White House tends to lose seats in Congress.

“Even if Beto O’Rourke loses, he may bring out enough progressive voters in districts like Will Hurd’s to bring other candidates across the finish line,” said Swers.

Hurd is seeking a third term, narrowly winning in 2016, in a district that also backed Hillary Clinton. Swers says democratic challenger Gina Ortiz Jones is running a competitive race, but Hurd set himself up for victory, by setting himself apart.

“He seems to have managed to do something that’s very difficult to do in this current, polarized environment, which is kind of create his own brand that’s separate from his own party," explains Swers.

Swers says Texas Democrats also saw an opening this year with so many Republicans in Congress retiring. She explains that when there’s not an incumbent on the ballot, the race tends to be more of a toss-up.

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