Texas, a state a little bit bigger than France, contains the polar opposites of America amidst its vast size. Houston, the third largest city in America, is a stark contrast to endless stretches of interstate freeways dotted with towns that have populations lower than 30 people and mid-size towns where people’s principle livelihood is local high school football.
Texas is stereotyped as overwhelmingly conservative, but is one of the states that approves of President Donald Trump the least, and there are a few Congressional districts that are a key part of Democrats’ quest to flip the House of Representatives in the upcoming midterm elections.
National figures in politics like the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have gotten involved in uncharacteristic ways by endorsing more centrist candidates in packed Democratic primary fields, which proves counterproductive and reflects badly on national Democratic political leadership, not a position in which they would like to be when preparing for the most important midterm election of the decade, or perhaps of all history.
Texas’ 7th Congressional district encompasses a portion of western suburbs of Houston and have packed fields of Democrats vying to face incumbent Republicans or maintain Democratic control in a key district. The 7th District candidates include a cancer researcher, lawyer and health care advocate, and a financial consultant, to name a few of the seven Democrats vying to unseat long-term incumbent Congressman John Culberson.
None of the candidates mentioned above bore the brunt of a brutal opposition research memo released by the DCCC to discredit her with very little plausible justification on their end.
Laura Moser, a journalist and founder of the Trump resistance tool Daily Action, is one of the more progressive candidates running in this race. Moser grew up in Houston, moved to Washington D.C. to work for Slate as their education columnist, founded Daily Action — a text messaging service which sends daily text messages of tangible actions to resist the Trump administration — after Trump was elected, and finally moved back to the district to run for Congress.
Even though Moser has not raised as much money as other candidates in the race have, she has more national notoriety than her fellow candidates because of her outspoken stances on social issues, which was why she was targeted by the DCCC.
Feb. 22, the DCCC posted a memo attacking Moser which described her as “a Washington insider, who begrudgingly moved to Houston to run for Congress.” In a statement to The Texas Tribune, DCCC spokesperson Meredith Kelly said that Moser’s “disgust for life in Texas disqualifies her as a general election candidate, and would rob voters of their opportunity to flip Texas’ 7th in November.”
This memo is akin to opposition research, which the DCCC would gather on Republican candidates, not members of their own party, and is a curious move considering that more progressive candidates have filed to run for election this year than ever before.
Similarly, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer endorsed health care executive Tahir Javed over State Senator Sylvia Garcia in the Democratic primary for Texas’ 29th Congressional District, saying: “His record as a job creator, healthcare executive and teacher give him the perfect mix of skills and experience to serve the district and Texas.”
This move was puzzling because Garcia had received all the support from local Democratic party officials, as well as national organizations like EMILY’s List, whereas Javed is a Democratic Party fundraiser who was able to raise as much money as he did because he was wealthy to begin with.
The DCCC is afraid of Moser because she represents the more vocal and progressive wing of the Democratic Party who have surged in popularity since Bernie Sanders’ run for presidency in 2016. Due to her national notoriety and how she speaks with a lot of conviction about her policies, she could make it to the runoff election if no other candidate gets over 50% of the vote outright, but may not stand a chance against Culberson, a Republican who cosponsored legislation that furthered the Obama birther conspiracy.
While the DCCC may see their decision to characterize Moser as a carpetbagger as pragmatic because the more moderate candidates in the race would have a better chance of winning against Culberson, in doing so, they undermine a candidate’s ability to effect change and reach constituencies that may have felt invisible in the pre Trump era. The Democratic Party is also a party that purportedly values issues of gender equity, which is incongruous with this incident and other incidents that have occurred in Texas’s congressional primaries.
Jo Nordhoff-Beard SC ’19 is an English major from Seattle. She enjoys Sam Hunt, flavored seltzer water, and reading memoirs written by women.