NYT’s Bruni Still Looney for Texas Democrats: GOP ‘Blood in the Water’

April 16th, 2018 6:18 PM

For the second week in a row, The New York Times Sunday Review featured Frank Bruni, former White House reporter, once again using the slot to cheerlead for Democrats to take over Texas in the November elections: “Will Democrats Win the House? Ask Texas.” The text box: “The victory-starved party smells ‘blood in the water.’”

Times reporters like former Houston bureau chief James McKinley Jr. have long been obsessed with turning Texas blue for years, at any level of politics, state or national. Bruni picked up that torch and ran with it, giddily hopeful that this year it will finally happen:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s wish list of House seats to flip from red to blue includes slightly over 100 districts -- remember, it’s a wish list -- and is chockablock with the usual swing states.


But wait, what’s this? Texas once, Texas twice, Texas five times in all. It reads like a typo. It looks like a delusion. Predominantly Republican and perversely gerrymandered, the Lone Star State is where Democrats send their dreams to die. Only 11 of its 36 House seats are in the party’s hands.

But 2018 is shaping up as a year in which old rules are out the window and everything is up for grabs. Ryan’s planned retirement and the increasing disarray of the Republican Party illustrate that. So does Texas’ emergence as a credible wellspring of Democratic hope.

He then name-checked his favorite candidate:

Leave aside the Senate contest and Beto O’Rourke’s surprisingly muscular (if nonetheless improbable) bid to topple Ted Cruz. Several of the most truly competitive House races in the country are in Texas, which could wind up providing Democrats three or more of the 24 flipped seats that they need for control of the chamber. The state tells the tale of the November midterms as well as anywhere else.


“Democrats smell blood in the water,” Harold Cook, a former executive director of the Texas Democratic Party, told me, “and for the first time in maybe forever, there is a Democrat running in every single congressional district in Texas, including ones where it’s a ludicrous thought that a Democrat could conceivably win.” They’re that angry about Trump and that convinced that his turbulent presidency and failure to nudge his approval rating much above 40 percent could mean an enormous blue wave.


And the 31st? Well, it’s hard not to indulge in some optimism when your party’s leading candidate is a female war hero whose story is possibly becoming a movie, “Shoot Like a Girl,” starring Angelina Jolie. That candidate, M. J. Hegar, 42, did several tours of duty in Afghanistan as a search-and-rescue pilot and won a Purple Heart after she was wounded while saving fellow passengers when the Taliban shot down her helicopter.


Both have deep roots in their districts, where they spent their childhoods. Both are great-looking, as it happens. (That rarely hurts.) And both acknowledge the shock of Nov. 8, 2016 -- and the peril of what they’ve witnessed since -- as factors that motivated them to run and could be central to whether they win or lose. Trump is large in their minds and in their races.

Bruni is literally counting the days:

....There’s an unusual bounty of Democratic candidates of all kinds, and as Jones and Allred demonstrate, that’s not merely a numerical phenomenon. It has brought engaging new figures and impassioned new voices into the arena. On Nov. 6, in Texas and elsewhere, we’ll see how much that matters.