National pundit Charlie Cook has moved the seat held by U.S. Rep. John Culberson (R-Houston) to toss-up from leans Republican, citing his relatively weaker financial condition and the swing from Romney +21 to Clinton +1 in four years. CD7 was one of seven districts nationally, and the only one in Texas, to shift toward Democrats, further bolstering the party’s chances of retaking the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018.
We still consider the district to lean Republican. Statewide Republican candidates not named Donald Trump carried the district by an average of 14 points, and Culberson defeated Houston attorney James Cargas by 12 points. Culberson received 56% of the vote, which was higher than all but one of the statewide Republican candidates.
However, the district is within reach of the eventual Democratic nominee if the 2018 election resembles this year’s Virginia Assembly elections, in which several dozen seats shifted toward Democratic candidates by 10 or more points.
Culberson has faced Cargas each of the last three cycles. Culberson defeated Cargas, 61%-36% in 2012, 63%-35% in 2014 and 56%-44% last year. Cargas raised $77K, $74K and $68K, respectively, for those campaigns. The field of potential 2018 challengers includes several candidates who have already raised considerably more.
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