Texas Democrats Looking to Challenge Established GOP

** Hold for Story by Will Weissert Slugged Betos Battle** In this Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018, photo, Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke, right, passes a "No Border Wall" sign during a visit to the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, a possible location for a border wall. O'Rourke is running against well-funded incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in deep-red Texas, where a Democrat hasn't captured statewide office since 1994. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

** Hold for Story by Will Weissert Slugged Betos Battle** In this Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018, photo, Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke, right, passes a “No Border Wall” sign during a visit to the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, a possible location for a border wall. O’Rourke is running against well-funded incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in deep-red Texas, where a Democrat hasn’t captured statewide office since 1994. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Democrats in deep-red Texas voted in force in the first-in-the-nation 2018 primary elections Tuesday, propelling women candidates toward possible challenges to entrenched male Republicans in Congress and venting their midterm anger at President Donald Trump. The biggest question was whether Texas is just the start of what’s to come nationwide.

Energized Texas Democrats appeared poised for their biggest turnout in a midterm primary in more than a decade, despite the long odds this November of ousting Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and other statewide officeholders who’ve fervently stood by Trump. But with the GOP’s majority in Congress on the line this fall, Democrats in Texas barreled out of the gates to vote. They showed up in bigger numbers than Republicans during voting before election day in Texas — the nation’s biggest conservative state. Republicans retook the overall lead in turnout as results trickled in, but Democratic voting remained high.

Nationally, Democrats have their sights on flipping three GOP-controlled congressional seats in Texas that backed Hillary Clinton over Trump in 2016, including a Houston district where two women were the top vote-winners in early returns in a race likely to go to a May runoff. Cruz and his Democratic challenger who has generated national excitement despite facing long odds, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, easily clinched their party nominations for the Senate. Meanwhile, several congressional races packed with candidates were expected to head to May runoffs.