Republicans have created a new Houston-area congressional district for Wesley Hunt, but he doesn’t have a free ride – Houston Public Media
Houston’s newest congressional district was drawn to elect a Republican — in fact, experts say it was drawn to elect a particular Republican.
But this candidate faces a major obstacle on the road to the nomination of his party.
Former Army Captain and Iraq War veteran Wesley Hunt came within four points of beating Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher in 2020. Since then, state GOP lawmakers have created a new district, the 38th of Texas, specifically thinking of him.
TX-38 extends from the Energy Corridor in western Harris County north to Cypress and Tomball. It includes the more conservative parts of Fletcher’s former 7th Precinct with parts of the dark red 8th Precinct, from which Congressman Kevin Brady is retiring.
The result is a neighborhood likely to favor Hunt, according to political analyst Jacquie Baly.
“Wesley Hunt grew up in the district,” said political analyst Jacquie Baly. “He’s over a million dollars. His mentions include heavy hitters like (US House) Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senator Ted Cruz.”
And just last week, Hunt got his most high-profile endorsement yet: former President Donald Trump.
I’m honored to have President Trump’s endorsement! During his presidency, Donald Trump built the greatest economy our country had ever seen, we were respected on the world stage, and our enemies feared us. https://t.co/XWmj8prXaH
— Wesley Hunt (@WesleyHuntTX) February 18, 2022
In fact, Hunt’s latest campaign finance report shows him with $2 million, about 20 times more than his closest rivals in the Republican primary.
Hunt has nine opponents in the primary, but Baly thinks he can cross the 50% +1 threshold needed for a first-round win.
“Based on the last time we saw Hunt – who was in CD 7 – on the ballot for a Republican primary, he had multiple opponents at that time and won without a runoff,” said Baly. “There’s probably a good chance it will happen again. Even though he has nine opponents, this quarter is pretty much handmade and designed for him.”
But at least one of those nine – oil and gas engineer Mark Ramsey – could give Hunt a serious run for his money.
Ramsey’s campaign is more local, Baly said: His endorsements came from Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and state Rep. Mayes Middleton of the Texas Freedom Caucus.
What could really give Ramsey an edge, however, is the endorsement of the three main conservative senders of the slate: the conservative Texas Republicans led by Dr. Steven Hotze, the conservative Texas Review led by Red, white and blue co-host Gary Polland and the Link Letter.
Jones noted that Ramsey was able to pit his support, which comes mostly from local Republicans, against that of Hunt, which comes mostly from national Republicans.
“These slate mailers send endorsement lists to Republican primary voters, and especially in races where people don’t have a lot of information about the candidates, they tend to be quite influential,” Mark said. Jones, a political scientist from Rice University. “And the fact that Ramsey is endorsed by these three people means he’s going to get pretty extensive coverage in these mailings that are going out to all Republican primary voters in Harris County.”
Ramsey is unlikely to be able to knock Hunt out in the first round. But if the contest ends in May, Jones said, the momentum could shift to Ramsey as the more conservative contender.
“Ramsey’s objective, combined with the other eight minor candidates, is simply to keep Hunt below 50%, and therefore to force a second round, where the turnout will be considerably lower, and where Ramsey could have at least minus the possibility of winning,” Jones said. . “We know, especially in Harris County, that when turnout drops, it tends to favor the more conservative candidate with local ties and local roots, and that’s Ramsey, not Hunt.”
Hunt’s other rivals for the Republican nomination in TX-38 include retired Houston firefighter and small business owner Jerry Ford, technician Phil Covarrubias, consultants Alex Cross and Roland Lopez, teacher Brett Guillory, minister David Hogan, small business owner Damien Mockus, and oil and gas professional Richard Welch.
Whoever emerges from the crowded Republican field will face one of three Democratic candidates in the fall. The leading candidate in this primary is likely teacher and activist Diana Martinez Alexander, who previously ran an unsuccessful 2020 primary campaign for Harris County Commissioner for Precinct 3. Her Democratic rivals include Spring Branch ISD Superintendent Duncan Klussman and Centrell business owner Reed.
None of these Democrats are likely to fare well against the ultimate Republican nominee, due to the way the GOP-led Legislature has drawn the district.
“Republicans start with a 25-point advantage, which is unbeatable in any general election,” Jones said.
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