Democratic Senate candidates battle for nomination in a newly purple Texas
The Lone Star state could end up as a swing state this November, according to political experts. Tuesday's Democratic Senate runoff could pave the way for the notoriously red Texas to turn blue.
The two Democrats competing tonight to run against Republican incumbent Senator John Cornyn – Air Force veteran MJ Hegar and State Senator Royce West – said they know this year, Texas politics are hard to predict.
Voters have become more diverse both in identity and beliefs.
“That’s what Texas looks like now," West said.
“A third of our state is independent, and that doesn’t mean that they’re moderate," Hegar said.
The runoff isn’t just about who will face off against Sen. Cornyn in November. Voters are also determining which candidate they want to lead the growing Democratic base in Texas.
“They are looking for something different than partisan politics," Hegar said. “There’s a lot on the line in this election.”
With a pandemic and racial divide on the minds of voters, West said getting Democrats in office is what’s needed.
“It’s time for a change," He said. "There’s a need for a change here in Texas.”
There’s no doubt that Tuesday's victorious candidate will have an uphill battle as recent polls have Cornyn on top by more than 10 percent.
Liz Harrington, the national spokesperson for the Republican National Committee, said the party is confident both Cornyn and Trump will hang on to Texas in 2020.
“We know the support is very strong on the ground," Harrington said. "President Trump has unified the Republican Party like never before, and we’re going to continue to keep Texas red.”
But political expert Dr. Todd Belt said he expects many Texas voters will be split between parties come November.
“When we’re talking about Senate, governor, president, those are pretty high-profile races," Belt said. "People really do have preferences that can diverge from one party to another."
The Cornyn campaign said they’ll be releasing a statement on the race ahead once the runoff election wraps up on Tuesday night.