Nov. 8 will be the first general election under Texas’ new maps, which are redrawn once every 10 years as part of the state’s redistricting process.

Tarrant County will welcome two freshmen legislators from Districts 92 and 93, no matter the outcome, after two incumbents chose not to seek re-election for their current seats.

Those races are part of 11 contests that will determine who will represent Tarrant County in the Texas House. Even though the lines of House districts shifted during redistricting, many races feature incumbents hoping to hold onto their seats. Four incumbents are running for another two-year term and are unopposed. The remaining five lawmakers are in contested races.

Open seats

No incumbents are running in races for Districts 92 and 93, which poses both challenges and opportunities for candidates in these races, University of North Texas political science professor Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha said.

With its newly redrawn lines, District 92 now includes parts of Bedford, Euless, Hurst, Arlington and Grand Prairie. District 93 includes all of Blue Mound, some northern parts of Fort Worth and Saginaw and goes up to Haslet. 

“Certainly there’s a lot of opportunity for candidates to change the dynamics of the race based on (reaching) the voters who don’t vote, the demographic changes (and) the redistricting, which means that there are more voters who don’t know who the candidates are,” he said. “There’s a real opportunity there, but there are significant costs to trying to reach out to those voters.

But he said that politicians can’t bank on demographic shifts as their main strategy.

“For years and years, the general conventional wisdom in Texas (was) Texas is going to turn blue because of the Latino vote,” he said. “But we’re starting to have a more nuanced conversation about how the Latino vote is not a monolith.”

However, the way demographic groups are divided through processes like redistricting will still have a significant impact.

“Texas Republicans were in charge of redistricting,” he said. “Therefore, Republicans are going to draw the maps in a way that will benefit Republicans.

He did note that while District 93 looks like a win for Republicans, District 92 looks better for Democrats. 

District 92

First-term state Rep. Jeff Cason, R-Bedford, decided not to run for re-election in District 92 after the redistricting process, which was led by his GOP colleagues, shifted the borders to favor a Democratic win.

Last December, he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he was encouraged to run for the likely Republican seat in District 93, but he opted not to leave his home and move to a new district.

Republican Joe Livingston, a realtor, and Democrat Salman Bhojani, an attorney and former Euless City Council member, are both vying for the open seat.

Livingston, 65, said he has been interested in serving in the Texas House since his college days.

“I have always wanted to run for state house, but I never wanted to challenge any of the incumbents… I never wanted to primary anybody because I liked them,” he said. “This became an open seat, and so I decided that it was my time.

Bhojani, 42, his opponent, said that he wanted to take action rather than complain, which is why he ran for City Council in 2017. He lost that race but won in 2018 when there was another open seat

“I’m an immigrant from Pakistan and have worked really hard and lived the American dream,” he said. “In 2016, we elected our former president, and I felt that was not the right decision for America. And we somehow lost civility and respect for each other.”

Both candidates discussed a need to address property taxes.

“Is it fair to price somebody out of their home?” Livingston said. The fact that you bought a home, you can afford it and because of inflation, your home value goes up … whether they need the money or not, they collect more from you because your value went up.” 

Additionally, as a means to help curb rising property taxes for everyone, Livingston suggests auditing budgets so that taxing entities are not taking in more money than they need.

“I think that there’s a lot of waste in government spending,” Livingston said. “And I think that the waste needs to be eliminated and they need to examine the budgets.”

Bhojani pointed to Texas’ $27 billion surplus and would like to see the state allocate more of its budget to funding schools. He also noted that another way to take pressure off of the state budget is to pass a Medicaid expansion, which would allow the state to take federal money to expand access to health care.

He also mentioned legalizing marijuana and looking into sports betting as other potential income streams.

“People are doing it right and we’re just not getting taxed on that. So we’re not getting our fair share,” he said. “There’s also sports betting … people are going across state lines … opening up their phone and then betting on the games in Texas. Guess who’s getting the revenue?” 

Bhojani raised $84,126 and Livingston raised $5,751 between July and September, according to reports filed with the Texas Ethics Commission.

District 93

Rep. Matt Krause, R- Fort Worth, currently holds the seat for District 93, but decided to run for Tarrant County district attorney instead of seeking another term.

After winning enough votes to garner a runoff election during the DA primary, Krause ultimately lost to fellow Republican Phil Sorrells

Nate Schatzline, 30, who oversees operations for The Justice Reform, saw an opportunity when he heard about the open seat.

“​​I thought, you know, Rep. Matt Krause is stepping down and he’s been a hero for us for so many years,” he said. “I decided that it was just time to jump in the race.” 

Schatzline said one of his priorities will be supporting parental rights in education. Currently, schools are acting as “political indoctrination rather than an education setting,” he said.

“One bill that I plan to file is a parental rights and education bill, which ensures that parents never lose their right to have a say so in what their child is learning,” he said over the phone.

He also mentioned property taxes as a concern.

“I believe that property taxes are unconstitutional. Property taxes are the quickest way for us to never actually own our property because we’re always paying the government for it,” he explained. “And so I’m against property taxes altogether. But I also believe that eliminating property taxes in the next session or two sessions is a pipe dream. I just don’t think that it’s possible.”

He said he hopes that the budget surplus can be used to provide taxpayers immediate relief and wants to look at spending cuts as a potential long-term solution.

“I’m not saying cutting teacher salaries. I’m not saying cutting the budgets for our schools. But I am saying that in every single governmental system, there is waste,” he said. “And the reality is … it’s not our money. It’s taxpayers’ money.”

His opponent, Democrat KC Chowdhury, and his campaign did not respond to multiple interview requests. He raised $380 in political contributions from July to September.

Schatzline has raised $32,312 from July to October, according to reports filed with the Texas Ethics Commission

Other contested races

Five house districts each include incumbents fighting to keep their seats. The incumbents and their challengers are as follows:

  • District 94 covers Hurst, Bedford, and east Fort Worth
  • District 95 includes south Fort Worth, southeast Fort Worth, Forest Hill, Everman and Edgecliff Village.
  • District 97 covers southwest Fort Worth, Benbrook, Crowley and White Settlement.
  • District 98 includes Keller, Westlake, Southlake, Grapevine, Colleyville and north Euless.
  • District 99 covers west Fort Worth, River Oaks, Lake Worth, Westworth Village, Westover Hills, Samson Park and Azle

While there are some exceptions, Matthew Wilson, an associate professor of political science at Southern Methodist University, pointed out that the odds generally favor incumbents.

“Incumbents usually do win. Incumbents typically are re-elected at about a 90% clip — certainly, that’s true in the U.S. Congress, and I think the numbers at the state level are similar,” Wilson said.

By definition, incumbents have at least one or more past victories to lean on, but Wilson said that the nature of their relationship with constituents is changing.

“Incumbents build up less of a personal vote today than they once did because we have become so polarized by party,” he explained. “It used to be that an incumbent, through his or her service and working with constituents over the years, could win over a lot of the members of the other party to their side. That’s harder and harder to do.”

Uncontested races

These four seats are uncontested and the incumbents will serve another term in the House, barring unforeseen circumstances. They are: 

Marcheta Fornoff covers the arts for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at marcheta.fornoff@fortworthreport.org or on Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Marcheta Fornoff

For just over seven years Marcheta Fornoff performed the high wire act of producing a live morning news program on Minnesota Public Radio. She led a small, but nimble team to cover everything from politics...