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Decision 2020: Democrats’ Lone Star hopes dashed as they come up bone dry in Texas

Dreams of turning Texas purple subsumed in a red wave in Tuesday’s vote

♦By Rich Shumate, editor

AUSTIN (CFP) — Heading into Tuesday’s election, Texas Democrats were hopeful that 2020 would finally be the year that the Lone Star State would turn purple.

They had targeted 10 U.S. House seats and had hopes of flipping a U.S. Senate seat and grabbing control of the state House — and perhaps even winning the state’s presidential electoral votes for the first time since 1976.

Exactly none of that happened.

U.S. Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, re-elected

President Donald Trump carried Texas by 6 points; U.S. Senator John Cornyn won by 10 points over Democrat MJ Hegar; none of the targeted U.S. House incumbents lost; and the balance of power in the Texas House will be about where it was before the election began.

The only bright spot for Democrats was that they kept the two U.S. House seats they flipped in 2018, as Collin Allred won re-election in Dallas, and Lizzie Fletcher won in Houston.

Perhaps nothing symbolized Democrats’ night of woe as much as what happened in the 23rd U.S. House District, which stretches across a vast expanse of West Texas from San Antonio toward El Paso.

This district is always hard fought, changing hands four times in the last 20 years. Two years ago, Republican Will Hurd won it by a mere 926 votes over Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones.

After Hurd retired, Ortiz Jones ran again and was expected to pick up the seat. But she lost to Republican Tony Gonzales by 9,300 votes, a worse showing than two years ago.

Democrats had also expected to pick up the Dallas-area seat that had been held by Kenny Marchant, but former Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne appears to have won a narrow victory over Democrat Candace Valenzuela, although the race has yet to be called.

Valenzuela had attracted national attention after winning the Democratic primary, picking up endorsements from Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Kamala Harris.

Republican House incumbents who survived included Mike McCaul in central Texas (+7), Van Taylor in the northern Dallas suburbs (+12), Chip Roy in the Austin suburbs (+7), Dan Crenshaw in Houston (+14), Ron Wright in suburban Dallas (+9), Roger Williams in metro Austin (+14) and John Carter in the northern Austin suburbs (+9).

Roy’s victory was particularly sweet for Republicans, as he defeated former Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis, who gained a national following in 2013 after filibustering to kill a bill restricting legal abortion, which she parlayed into an unsuccessful run for governor in 2014.

Davis moved from Fort Worth to Austin to run against Roy and raised nearly $9 million. But in the end, it was not enough to overcome Texas’s Republican tendencies.

Which was the story of the night for Texas Democrats.

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Former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman blames “deep state” for his indictment on corruption charges

Former Texas congressman accused of diverting charitable donations for personal use

♦By Rich Shumate, editor

HOUSTON (CFP) — Federal prosecutors are blaming former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman and an aide for an ongoing scheme to bilk $1.25 million from charitable foundations and divert it for personal use. But Stockman, in the dock, is blaming the “deep state” for his legal woes.

Former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas

Stockman, a Republican who served two stints in the House before losing a Senate primary in 2014, is facing charges of mail and wire fraud, money laundering, violating campaign finance laws, making false statements to the Federal Election Commission and filing a false tax return with the IRS. The indictment was unsealed March 28.

After his initial court appearance, Stockman proclaimed his innocence and said the “deep state” was trying to exact revenge for his longtime opposition to the IRS as a congressman, according to a report in the Houston Chronicle.

“This is part of a deep state that’s continuing to progress,” said Stockman, who was arrested at a Houston airport while trying to board a plane bound for the United Arab Emirates.

“Deep state” refers to a conspiracy theory that holds that unelected bureaucrats secretly run the U.S. government.

The indictment alleges that Stockman and an aide, Jason Posey, solicited donations from charitable foundations that they funneled to a web of non-profit groups they had set up, telling donors the funds would be used for “charitable and educational purposes.” Instead, the money was spent on personal expenses and to further Stockman’s political career, according to the indictment.

In all, $1.25 million in fraudulent donations were solicited between 2010 and 2014, according to the indictment.

Stockman, 60, was elected to Congress from a Houston-area district in 1994, on his third try. After two terms in the House, he left to make an unsuccessful bid for the Texas Railroad Commission in 1998.

He returned to Congress in 2013 but gave up his seat after a single term to make a primary run against Republican U.S. Senator John Cornyn.

In that campaign, Stockman tried to make the case that Cornyn, as a member of the Republican Senate leadership, had abandoned his conservative principles. But Cornyn crushed him by 40 points.

According to the indictment, some of the money diverted from the charitable groups was used to help Stockman’s Senate bid.

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