Over to Brazoria County for this one.
A Bernie Sanders’ liberal is taking on one of the most conservative members of the Texas House of Representatives in District 29 in Brazoria County, presenting voters with, perhaps, the starkest contrast between candidates of any race in Texas.
Democrat John T. Floyd, 48, who was a Bernie Sanders’ state delegate, is challenging Republican Ed Thompson, 65, who earned a 98 percent rating from the ultra conservative Eagle Forum.
The candidates may offer the most radically different visions of government of any race in Texas, said Elizabeth McLane, chairwoman of the government and economics department at Alvin Community College.
Floyd is making an audacious challenge in the most conservative of Texas’s 21 largest urban counties, McLane said. Even so, Democrats’ chances are better than ever and are likely to keep improving as the district becomes more urbanized.
District 29 stretches roughly from Beltway 8 south to FM 2004, with the city of Pearland covering the north end of the district, Manvel and Iowa Colony in the northeast, Alvin in the east central and Liverpool farther south. Nearly half the district’s population of 176,000 is in Pearland.
Nearly all the district’s growth is in west Pearland, which is trending Democrat. East Pearland is the oldest part of the city and dominated by traditional conservatives, as are the two other largest cities, Manvel and Alvin. The rest of the district is largely rural.
The expanding and increasingly diverse population in Pearland could make Republican control of the district difficult within five to 10 years, McLane said.
Floyd is a knowledgeable and articulate lawyer who could benefit from the population boom, making him the strongest candidate the Democrats have fielded for the house seat in more than a decade, she said.
Let’s maintain some perspective here, because this isn’t a swing district. John McCain carried this district 62.6% to 36.6%, and Mitt Romney did a little better, winning it 63.3% to 35.4%. It may well be that the demographics are going in a Democratic direction, but until we see that in an election result it doesn’t mean much. Floyd’s candidacy will provide an interesting data point in a longstanding debate – is it better in a non-hospitable district like this to find a candidate for the minority party who is a reasonably close ideological fit, or one who provides a clear and consistent contrast between the choices? The former approach tends to be the more common one, but that’s not what we have here. I’ll be sure to check and see what the numbers have to say when it’s all over.