As Texans start heading to the polls today, incumbent Republican lawmakers in one of the state’s reddest counties are defending against heavily funded Democrat challengers looking to flip the Texas House in the November 2020 election.
Every partisan elected office in Collin County is held by a Republican.
Yet the two districts—the most urban in the county—are major targets for Democrat organizations aiming to win control of the Texas House by flipping seats from red to blue. Democrats have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the two races, hoping to gain a majority for next year’s redistricting process.
Shaheen, a former Collin County commissioner, is seeking a fourth term as a state representative. He’s a member of the conservative Texas Freedom Caucus and has a career “A” rating on the Fiscal Responsibility Index.
His House District 66 serves west Plano and part of far north Dallas.
Shaheen is facing the same Democrat opponent, Sharon Hirsch, who he beat last time by just 391 votes out of over 68,000.
Hirsch is a retired Plano ISD staff member and Democrat Party activist. She’s received $700,000 in campaign contributions this cycle—over $300,000 from the Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee, Flippable Texas Victory Fund, failed senate and presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke’s Powered By People PAC, and other Democrat groups.
Shaheen has raised $444,000 in donations this election cycle, according to the latest campaign finance reports from Transparency USA.
A Libertarian candidate, Shawn Jones, is also on the ballot for HD 66.
Leach, a commercial litigation, construction, and real estate lawyer, is running for a fifth term in the Texas House. He has a career “B” rating on the Fiscal Responsibility Index, dropping from an “A” after last year’s “purple” legislative session, in which he left the Freedom Caucus and ended up earning a 63 on the 2019 Index.
His House District 67 includes parts of Allen, Plano, and Richardson.
Leach’s Democrat opponent, Lorenzo Sanchez, is a local realtor who says he will be the first openly LGBTQ+ man in the Texas Legislature. Sanchez has received over $820,000 in campaign donations, the bulk coming from the same Democrat groups backing Hirsch.
But Leach has topped that, taking in over $1 million to defend against Democrats this election cycle. In 2018, he defeated a different Democrat by 51-49 percent, a margin of just under 1,700 votes.
Leach and Shaheen are among Democrats’ top targets to flip the Texas House, but the other three members of Collin County’s state House delegation also have opponents making an effort to take control out of Republican hands.
Like Leach, State Rep. Scott Sanford of McKinney is running for his fifth term and has a career “B” rating on the Fiscal Responsibility Index after earning a score of 63 in the 2019 session. Sanford’s House District 70 includes McKinney as well as smaller cities and unincorporated areas of the county to the north and east.
Sanford’s Democrat challenger, Angie Bado, has raised about $73,000, mostly from individuals—including $2,500 from McKinney Mayor George Fuller. Sanford has taken in $82,000 this cycle but has more cash on hand from previous years. His Democrat opponent in 2018 got just 38 percent of the vote.
State Rep. Candy Noble of Lucas is running for a second term serving House District 89 in southeast Collin County, which includes Fairview, Lucas, Murphy, Parker, Wylie, and parts of Allen and Plano. As a freshman, she earned a 69 on the 2019 Index.
Noble is again facing Democrat Ray Ash, who she defeated 60-40 percent in 2018. Ash, a small-business owner and tax attorney in Murphy, has received about $11,000 this election cycle. Noble has raised $116,000. Libertarian Ed Kless is also on the ballot.
State Rep. Justin Holland of Heath is seeking a third term representing House District 33, which encompasses the northern and eastern perimeters of Collin County, including part of Frisco, as well as Rockwall County, where he co-owns a real estate company. He has a career “F” rating on the Fiscal Responsibility Index and earned a 70 in 2019.
In 2018, Holland defeated his Democrat opponent 65-35 percent. He’s being challenged this year by Democrat Andy Rose, an LGBTQ-rights advocate from Farmersville. Rose has received $10,000 in campaign contributions, compared to Holland’s $162,000 in donations this cycle.
Political scientist Mark Jones of Rice University’s Baker Institute rates 27 Texas House races as competitive in 2020, including Shaheen’s and Leach’s. Democrats would need to flip nine Republican districts statewide to gain a majority of the 150 House seats.
Straight-party voting is no longer an option starting this year, so voters must select each candidate individually. Local elections rescheduled from May due to concerns about the Chinese coronavirus will also be on the November ballot.
Early voting in the November 3 general election runs October 13-30.
Information on voting in Collin County can be found online at collincountytx.gov/elections.
Updated on October 14 to add information on competitive races.