‘Every day Congressman Roy spends in Washington he turns more into a creature of the swamp…’
(Bridget Bowman, CQ-Roll Call) Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy‘s decision to stall a disaster aid bill Friday is bringing new attention to the conservative first-term lawmaker, a prime target for Democrats in 2020.
Roy blocked a request to pass the $19.1 billion package by unanimous consent.
He raised concerns that the funds were not offset and that the package lacked money to process migrants at the southern border.
Democrats quickly slammed Roy’s move by focusing on the potential that disaster relief would be delayed. The Texas Democratic Party noted in a statement that Texans are still without homes, an apparent reference the ongoing recovery from Hurricane Harvey.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out an email that described Roy’s move as “a dagger in the heart” to Americans waiting for disaster relief.
“Every day Congressman Roy spends in Washington he turns more into a creature of the swamp, making it clear why this is a top tier Democratic pickup opportunity,” DCCC spokesperson Avery Jaffe said in a statement.
Although he’s a freshman lawmaker, Roy is experienced on Capitol Hill. He previously served as Sen. Ted Cruz‘s chief of staff when Cruz led efforts that forced a government shutdown in 2013 over funding for the 2010 health care law. Cruz and Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn, who is up for reelection, voted for the disaster aid bill on Thursday.
A member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, Roy battled through an 18-person primary field in 2018 after GOP Rep. Lamar Smith announced his retirement. He was backed by the Freedom Caucus, and the Club for Growth spent more than $1 million to boost Roy in the primary.
When Smith announced his retirement, the district was thought to be in safe Republican hands since President Donald Trump had carried the 21st District by 10 points in 2016. But Roy narrowly won in 2018, garnering just over 50% of the vote to defeat Democratic Army veteran Joseph Kopser by 3 points.
Kopser, who raised $3.2 million in that race to Roy’s $1.9 million, is not running again, and so far Democrats are waiting for a challenger to take on Roy. In the first fundraising quarter of the 2020 cycle, Roy raised $253,000 and had $321,000 on hand on March 31.
Former Texas gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis, who garnered national attention in 2013 when she filibustered an anti-abortion bill in the state Senate, has said she is considering running in the 21st District.
Roy knocked Davis after she said she was considering running against him, tweeting that her “radical left Hollywood views are out-of-step with the Texas Hill Country values.” Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Likely Republican.
Democrats believe the 21st District, which stretches from San Antonio to Austin, and others in Texas represent pickup opportunities because of shifting demographics and recent gains in the suburbs. The DCCC has opened up a Texas headquarters in Austin and is targeting six GOP-held seats in Texas in 2020, including Roy’s.
The DCCC conducted a poll from April 4-6 in Roy’s district and two others. Of those surveyed, 37% believed Roy should be reelected, 41% would either vote to replace Roy or consider voting for someone else, and 12% were unsure. The poll had a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points and surveyed 401 likely general election voters via a mix of live cellphone and automated calls.
(Jennifer Shutt contributed to this report. )
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