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Texas Progressives Eye GOP House Seat That Got Away in 2018

The three Democratic candidates have collectively raised nearly $3.3 million to the incumbent’s $1.9 million.

Texas Republican Rep. Michael McCaul waits to address the media after a briefing on election security with House members in the Capitol Visitor Center on May 22, 2018.

The primary race between Democratic candidates Mike Siegel and Pritesh Gandhi is coming down to a competition between progressive endorsements and a well-funded opponent in Texas’ 10th Congressional district.

Siegel, a former civil rights attorney and public school teacher, is considered the progressive in the race with his support of hallmark progressive policies, such as universal healthcare and a Green New Deal. He won endorsements from former presidential candidates and progressive leaders Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). The AFL-CIO, Sierra Club and Our Revolution also endorsed his candidacy.

Gandhi is a primary care doctor, and he has received progressive organizational support in his own right. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) endorsed Gandhi, along with a small number of House members. Planned Parenthood Action Fund and gun control group Giffords both support his campaign. Gandhi, though, is considered more moderate, as he does not support some hallmark progressive policies such as Medicare for All.

On Super Tuesday, Siegel won the first round of voting with 44 percent of the vote, missing the 50 percent threshold to win the nomination outright. Gandhi received 33 percent, and Shannon Hutcheson, an attorney, came in third place with 23 percent of the vote. The race has come down to a second round of voting between Siegel and Gandhi.

The winner of the contest will challenge incumbent Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) in the general election. If Siegel wins the nomination, it would be a rematch for the two candidates. McCaul, who has represented the district since 2005, defeated Siegel narrowly by four points in 2018 — the closest margin of victory in McCaul’s tenure. The district has a Cook Political rating of “lean R” and a Cook partisan voting index of R+9.

Earlier this year, Texas was a disappointment for progressives who saw an opportunity to win the state for Sanders in March, but former Vice President Joe Biden won the state after his sweeping win in South Carolina and coalition of support from centrists. Now, though, progressives have found new targets in local congressional races, the Texas Tribune reported.

Since the start of the race, Gandhi raised more than $1.2 million, while Siegel only raised $833,000. As of now, Gandhi has roughly $93,000 cash on hand, compared to the nearly $171,000 Siegel has in the bank.

Fundraising trends in this year’s cycle, though, have dwarfed that of 2018. Last cycle, Siegel raised only $481,000, while McCaul was able to raise just over $1.7 million. In 2020, McCaul has raised north of $1.9 million, while the three Democratic candidates have collectively raised nearly $3.3 million.

Outside groups have spent more than $474,000 to support Gandhi’s candidacy. A majority of that spending has come from the 314 Action Fund, a liberal hybrid PAC dedicated to electing more scientists and candidates with STEM backgrounds to Congress. The group has also spent $108,000 opposing Siegel’s candidacy.

The candidates’ past experience has also played into their fundraising. Gandhi, who currently works in healthcare, has received $181,000 from healthcare professionals. On the other hand, Siegel, a former educator, has received nearly $54,000 from donors in the education industry.

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