Lawmakers from the border say they are teaming up to influence the 2020 races for control of the Texas House. Credit: Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

Texas Democrats from the border team up for new PAC in effort to flip the state House

A group of Democrats representing the state’s border with Mexico in the Texas House has launched a new political group to unify their ranks and pitch in on the fight for the lower-chamber majority this November.

The House Speaker Pro Tem, Rep. Joe Moody of El Paso, is helping organize and serving as the treasurer of the group, Corazón de la Frontera PAC, or “Heart of the Border.” The PAC plans to help statewide by aiding freshman Democrats in their reelection bids as well as Democrats running to flip open seats in battleground districts.

More broadly, though, Moody told The Texas Tribune that he wants to make sure the perspective of border-area lawmakers is strongly represented as Democrats aim to take control of the lower chamber this November.

“It’s a collaborative effort between all the members that represent the border communities and it’s born out of shared experience, and this is a group that represents communities that on a bad day are demonized by our political opponents and on a good day are marginalized by our political allies,” Moody said. “As the tide continues to turn in Texas politics, these are members that want to change the dialogue about the border, that want to make our presence known.”

The border has been at the forefront of some of the fiercest policy debates in Austin in recent years. And for the El Paso delegation, there remains a particularly strong will to push for change — and robust representation — after the 2019 massacre there by a gunman who killed 23 people at a Walmart had warned about a “Hispanic invasion” in a manifesto he posted online.

Moody said the group will directly contribute to candidates and make in-kind contributions, like mail pieces, if needed. The PAC “certainly want[s] to raise and spend six figures,” he said.

Democrats are currently nine seats away from the majority in the House, following their gain of 12 seats in 2018. The PAC is focused on defending those 12 seats, while also helping Democrats capture the four seats in competitive territory where Republicans are retiring.

The PAC adds to a growing universe of Democratic groups looking to play a role in capturing the House, an effort being spearheaded by the House Democratic Campaign Committee.

Moody, who is involved with the committee, said he has been “working in coordination” with its chairwoman, Rep. Celia Israel of Austin, and he also been talking to Rep. Garnet Coleman of Houston, who is leading a new effort to raise money for incumbents running for reelection.

“I think what we’ve seen this cycle is that there are a number of members in our caucus that are engaged in races across the state in various ways … and everyone is pushing toward the same goal,” Moody said. “Cooperation, coordination, conversations — those are all important to make sure that it works well.”

According to Moody, the border-area lawmakers who have signed on to Corazón de la Frontera PAC include Reps. Mary González of Clint, César Blanco of El Paso, Lina Ortega of El Paso, Art Fierro of El Paso, Tracy King of Batesville, Richard Peña Raymond of Laredo, Ryan Guillen of Rio Grande City, Oscar Longoria of Mission, Bobby Guerra of Mission, Armanda “Mando” Martinez of Weslaco, Sergio Muñoz Jr. of Palmview, Terry Canales of Edinburg, Eddie Lucio III of Brownsville and Alex Dominguez of Brownsville.

Author: PATRICK SVITEKThe Texas Tribune

Cassi Pollock contributed reporting

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