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How the races for 3 open congressional seats in North Texas are shaping up

A look at the 3 open congressional seats in North Texas
A look at the 3 open congressional seats in North Texas 06:12

NORTH TEXAS – It's not often a congressional seat opens up in North Texas, but this year is a rarity in politics: there are three open Congressional seats in our region.

  1. The 12th Congressional District in parts of Tarrant and Parker counties where Republican Kay Granger is retiring at the end of the year after what will be 28 years of serving in Congress.
  2. There's also the 26th Congressional District in portions of Tarrant, Denton and Wise counties and all of Cooke county, where Republican Dr. Michael Burgess has served since 2003.
  3. And finally, the 32nd Congressional District in parts of Dallas and Collin counties, where Democrat Colin Allred first entered office in 2019.

SMU Political Science Professor Matthew Wilson spoke with CBS News Texas about the coming changes. "It will certainly result in an unusual amount of turnover within the delegation from this part of the state. It also speaks to the fact that increasingly, members of the House are frustrated with the way that Congress works."

In the 32nd Congressional District, there are 10 Democrats running in the primary to succeed Congressman Allred.

They include Callie Butcher, Raja Chaudhry, Alex Cornwallis, former Dallas City Council Member Kevin Felder, State Rep. Julie Johnson of Farmers Branch, Zachariah Manning, Jan McDowell, Justin Moore, Christopher Panayiotou and Parkland Hospital Trauma Surgeon Dr. Brian Williams.

This will remain a Democratic held seat.

Wilson said, "This Democratic primary on March 5 is really where the action is. Whoever emerges from that is overwhelmingly likely to hold the seat."

From early on, he said two candidates rose to the top, when it comes to fundraising: Johnson and Williams.

Records with the Federal Election Commission show Johnson has raised more than $1 million since announcing her run and still has more than $573,000 in her campaign account.

Williams has raised nearly $1 million and still has more than $543,000 in the bank.

Wilson said, "It is almost certain to go to a runoff. It would be very surprising if any one of those candidates were able to capture the nomination in the first round. They've got a lot of money to do advertising, They've got a lot of money for the ground game for block walking, canvassing, etc. in a crowded field like that. That's a huge advantage, because it gives you a leg up in terms of making that all-important runoff."

Johnson has also racked up numerous endorsements from elected leaders and associations.

Both candidates have focused on improving healthcare, access to reproductive rights and tightening gun restrictions.

Wilson said, "What you see in a Democratic primary is much more focused on Democratic base issues like abortion. There's been a sparring back and forth of who would be most aggressive in protection abortion access or fighting for abortion access."

In the 26th Congressional District, 11 Republicans are vying to succeed Congressman Dr. Michael Burgess.

This is a Republican-held seat, so the winner of the primary will likely win the general election this fall.

Wilson said, "I suspect that two of those four will end up in a runoff because I think a runoff in this district is virtually certain."

A top tier of candidates has emerged Wilson said, including Brandon Gill, who has won endorsements from former President Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz.

Southlake Mayor John Huffman is being backed by North Texas Congresswoman Beth Van Duyne, and former Gov. Rick Perry.

Scott Armey, who ran for the seat in 2002 against Burgess, and who is the son of former Republican majority leader in the House Dick Armey, has racked up endorsements from numerous Denton County leaders.

Wilson also mentioned entrepreneur Luisa Del Rosal, who grew up in Mexico, but became a U.S. citizen legally.

Other candidates include Neena Biswas, Vlad De Franceschi, Jason Kergosien, Joel Krause, former State District Judge Doug Robison, Mark Rutledge and Burt Thakur.

Trump's endorsement, Wilson said, is a big help to Gill. "Trump's endorsement immediately gives him a certain amount of credibility with part of the Republican base, and that makes him a viable candidate here, and that's why we've started to see attack ads against him."

Wilson said while a Trump endorsement is no lock for the Republican nomination, it will help land him a spot in the runoff.

That, he believes, will leave Huffman, Del Rosal, and Armey fighting for the remaining position in a runoff.

"Armey has as you say name recognition among older voters in the district. He's a very kind of traditional fiscal conservative, low spending, low taxes. That certainly was a Republican message that is father put forward. We'll see if that resonates now 30 years later. Huffman, I think, is contending for some of the same voters the kind of very conservative MAGA crowd that Gill appeals to. So he's the one who probably has the most interest attacking Gill and trying to peel off some of that support. I think Luisa Del Rosal was trying to mobilize some new voters, younger voters, suburban voters into the electorate to try to increase turnout, increase the range of participation."

In the 12th Congressional District, five Republicans are vying for this Republican-held seat.

Among them, State Representative Craig Goldman of Fort Worth, who has a huge lead in fundraising, bringing in over $1.1 million to his campaign, and he still has more than $1 million in his campaign account.

Businessman John O'Shea has raised over $230,000 and has nearly $46,000 in his account.

The other candidates are Clint Dorris, Shelle Gardner and Anne Henley.

O'Shea has been endorsed by Attorney General Ken Paxton, while Goldman has locked-up endorsements from Gov. Greg Abbott, former Governor Rick Perry, and Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker among many other elected Republican leaders.

Wilson said Goldman could win this primary outright, which is 50 percent plus one vote. "Goldman is definitely the odds-on favorite here. He's got most of the Republican establishment coalesced behind him, he's got a big fundraising edge. If O'Shea is somehow able to even take this to a runoff, that's a bit of a feather in the cap for Ken Paxton because Ken Paxton is really kind of going in alone on this one against the rest of the Republican power structure in the State. Even if it does go to a runoff, I would still see Goldman as the favorite to ultimately secure this nomination."

Trump has not made an endorsement in this race.

While each Republican primary race is different, one common theme is that border security is the top issue among the candidates. "They differ a little on the policy details and that's important. But where they're all on the same pages, they all think we need much stricter enforcement than what we have now, and that's where the overwhelming majority of the Republican primary electorate is."

Early voting continues through March 1.

Election Day is March 5th, part of the Super Tuesday presidential primary.

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