GOP poll finds close race for Democratic seat in Houston suburbs

Republican Wesley Hunt led Rep. Lizzie Fletcher by 2 points, survey found

Texas Republican Wesley Hunt is challenging Rep. Lizzie Fletcher in the Houston-area 7th District. (Nathan Ouellette/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Texas Republican Wesley Hunt is challenging Rep. Lizzie Fletcher in the Houston-area 7th District. (Nathan Ouellette/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted September 5, 2019 at 10:00am

Texas Rep. Lizzie Fletcher could be in for a tough reelection fight in 2020, according to a new Republican poll released Thursday. The survey gave GOP challenger Wesley Hunt, a former Army captain, a 2-point lead over the freshman Democrat in the Houston-area 7th District.

The poll was paid for by the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with House GOP leadership and a major spender in House races. Forty-five percent of those surveyed backed Hunt, while 43 percent backed Fletcher. The poll had a margin of error of 5.3 points, according to a polling memo shared first with CQ Roll Call. 

Democrats are going on offense in Texas next year, targeting six GOP-held House seats, buoyed by recent retirement announcements of several Republican congressmen there. But the CLF poll underscores that the two House Democrats who unseated Republican incumbents in 2018 — Fletcher and Rep. Colin Allred — also face competitive races.

Hunt is not the only Republican bidding to take on Fletcher in the 7th District. Former Bellaire Mayor Cindy Siegel is also running, but several House Republican leaders have signaled that Hunt is their preferred candidate.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has endorsed Hunt, and his leadership PAC made the maximum contribution to the Army veteran in the most recent fundraising quarter. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise and a handful of other GOP lawmakers have also donated to Hunt through their PACs. Siegel received a donation from VIEW PAC, which backs GOP women running for office. The CLF poll did not test Siegel against Fletcher.

Hunt has raised $514,000 through June 30, compared to Siegel’s $261,000. Fletcher has continued her strong fundraising, with her campaign raising more than $1.1 million so far and ending the most recent fundraising quarter on June 30 with $945,000 in the bank.

Fletcher’s race is expected to be competitive. She defeated longtime GOP Rep. John Culberson last fall by 5 points in a district that had backed Hillary Clinton by 1 point two years earlier. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Likely Democratic.

The poll also found that 39 percent of those surveyed did not know Fletcher or had no opinion of her. Thirty percent viewed her unfavorably while 31 percent viewed her favorably. Voters surveyed were split on whether the congresswoman should be reelected. Twenty-nine percent said she should be reelected, 36 percent wanted to “give someone else a chance” and 36 percent were unsure.

TargetPoint Consulting interviewed 336 active voters for the poll from Aug. 10-11, surveying them via a mix of landline and mobile phones.