The first $100 million campaign ad?
Nah, not quite. It doesn’t have a Michael Bay budget, just a facsimile of one, but it’s fun and potentially a smart way to raise the name recognition of, and a little cash for, the five non-Crenshaw candidates here. (How many persuadable voters will sit through a four-minute ad is a separate question.) The less fun part of the ad is the fact that it’s necessary in the first place. Texas is no longer a Republican lock, as Ted Cruz has been reminding everyone following his political near-death experience in 2018. Even Crenshaw isn’t a sure thing this fall despite his high profile. His district is rated as “likely Republican” by the Cook Political Report even though he’s raised big money. Democrats think he’s a bit exposed on how Trump, and he, have handled the pandemic, but they know beating him is a longshot.
The lesser-known candidates beside him in the ad face stiffer challenges. Wesley Hunt and Genevieve Collins are running against Democratic incumbents who were swept into office in the Democrats’ 2018 blue wave. Those seats are favored to stay blue. Democrats are also favored in TX-23, where Tony Gonzales is running. That’s Will Hurd’s old seat, which broke for Hillary by three points in 2016 and then for Beto O’Rourke by five in 2018. Beth Van Duyne has a better shot in TX-24, which O’Rourke won by 3.5 points two years ago but which remained controlled by House Republicans. That’s because the incumbent, Kenny Marchant, had represented the district since 2005. He’s retiring, leaving the novice Van Duyne to try to hold the seat. Dems think they have a shot there if the national picture turns gloomy for Trump: “If more sitting U.S. House Republicans get into trouble around the country, the national outside groups may have to pull back toward a defensive posture focused on incumbent protection.” That would leave Van Duyne to fend for herself.