Poteet real estate broker and State Republican Executive Committee member Marian Knowlton established a campaign committee for a potential challenge of Rep. Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City). Knowlton is also the chair of the Atascosa Co. Republican Party.
She would be the first Republican to seek the seat since 2012 (Ann Matthews, 34%), which was the only time Guillen was opposed in a general election.
As it is currently drawn, HD31 had been growing steadily more competitive. Of all the Democrat-held House districts, HD31 is the 11th “least blue” district, and nine of the less bluer districts were flipped by Democratic candidates in 2018. In 2002, the district’s current configuration was 25.3% bluer than the state as a whole. By 2018, it was just 7.9% bluer than the state, and that figure fell more than 10 points in the last four years.
The average statewide Democratic candidate in the district, as it is currently drawn, received 54% of the vote head-to-head against the Republican in 2018, down from 67% in 2002. Guillen over-performed other Democrats in the district in 2012 by 3.2%. We otherwise have no data on Guillen because he received 100% of the vote the rest of his time in office.
The number of straight-party Republican voters has nearly doubled since 2012, and the Democratic straight-party advantage in the district has fallen from around 11K votes in 2012 to fewer than 5K in 2018. While single-punch, straight-party voting will not be an option in 2020, the significant growth in Republican voting could make this race closer than history suggests.
Guillen entered the year with $354K on hand, his lowest cash-on-hand figure since June 30, 2008. Guillen had $1M on hand as recently as January 25, 2018, before spending nearly $1M on his primary race.
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