Crenshaw looms large as Democrats look to flip Texas House seat

Democrats hoping to turn Texas blue see a tempting — if formidable — target in freshman Rep. Dan CrenshawDaniel CrenshawSecond night of GOP convention outdraws Democrats’ event with 19.4 million viewers GOP sticks to convention message amid uproar over Blake shooting The Hill’s Convention Report: Mike and Karen Pence set to headline third night of convention MORE (R).

Crenshaw’s seat is one of several in Texas Democrats are contesting this cycle, and the party is bullish that the 2nd District — and the state at large — are in play. But while several other Democratic House contenders are either competing for open seats or in districts with lesser-known incumbents, the party could face headwinds trying to unseat a rising GOP star in Crenshaw, who has been cast as a future Republican thought leader. 

On paper, the 2nd District is similar to other areas where Democrats saw massive gains in the 2018 midterms. It has a high number of college graduates, it includes parts of a major city — Houston — and the surrounding suburbs and about 44 percent of adults there are either Black or Hispanic, two demographics that lean Democratic.

But in 2018, as Democrats captured the House, they lost an open race to Crenshaw by more than 7 points. And the former Navy SEAL and combat veteran is running for reelection with a campaign account of over $4 million and a mushrooming national profile.

Democrats have thrown their support behind Sima Ladjevardian, a prominent Houston attorney and health care activist who fled Iran as a child, survived cancer and advised former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s 2018 Senate campaign, setting her up to run as a candidate with a compelling life story who reflects the growing diversity of the Houston area and Texas at large. 

“I want somebody who cares and can give back and can represent the people of the community, and I’m the person to take him out,” Ladjevardian said in an interview. “It’s my duty for a country that’s taken care of me to give back and make sure I do that.”

Democrats see promising signs that the district could be moving in their direction.

While Crenshaw won in 2018 by a healthy margin, O’Rourke lost there by just 1 point the same year. The party has also been able to narrow the margins in presidential races — the district went for the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainAnalysis: Biden victory, Democratic sweep would bring biggest boost to economy The Memo: Trump’s strengths complicate election picture Mark Kelly: Arizona Senate race winner should be sworn in ‘promptly’ MORE (R-Ariz.) by 20 points in 2008 and now-Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyTrump ‘no longer angry’ at Romney because of Supreme Court stance GOP lawmakers distance themselves from Trump comments on transfer of power McConnell pushes back on Trump: ‘There will be an orderly transition’ MORE (R-Utah) by 27 points in 2012, but President TrumpDonald John TrumpSteele Dossier sub-source was subject of FBI counterintelligence

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