The Jan. 28 special election is heating up for Texas’ 28th State House District, where Democrats are hoping to score a pickup that could better position them to flip the entire chamber in the fall.
Politico reports that the progressive group Forward Majority is spending $100,000 on TV, digital, and mail buys in support of Democratic Eliz Markowitz. Forward Majority’s TV spot is available, and it goes after Republican Gary Gates over child abuse allegations that were brought to the surface during his unsuccessful 2016 campaign for a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission.
The narrator declares that Gates’ “own kids told Child Protective Services he forced them to take vomit-inducing medicine” and “handcuffed and beat them with a wooden board.” She continues, “Gates then spent a fortune to shield alleged abusers like himself. Now he wants to represent us in Austin?”
In 2000, CPS removed Gates’ 13 children from his home, saying they were in “immediate danger.” Soon after, a judge returned the kids and the case was dropped, but not before serious accusations were levied against Gates, including allegations that he made his children miss meals as a form of punishment. CPS dropped the case within a year, but Gates went on to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a lawsuit against the agency, which ended up changing some of its policies to make it more difficult to take children out of homes.
Gates’ team responded to the ad by saying, “This basic attack has been refuted by the people who did the investigation … The people that researched this closely think Gates has done a tremendous job as a parent.” The candidate also released his own TV ad a few weeks before Forward Majority’s spot went up that included a testimonial from one of his daughters, who said that the candidate “adopted me and takes such good care of our family, no matter what.”
The 28th District, which is located in the Houston suburbs, backed Donald Trump 53-43 but supported GOP Sen. Ted Cruz by a smaller 51-48 spread last year, and if Democrats flip it this month, Team Blue would need to net just eight seats in the fall to take control of the state House for the first time in ages.
The district hosted an all-party primary on Nov. 5 and Markowitz, the lone Democrat in the race, took first with 39%, while Gates earned second with 28%, though the six Republican candidates collectively outpaced Markowitz 61-39. However, Markowitz recently released a mid-December poll from HIT Strategies that showed her tied with Gates 42-42 to argue that this contest is winnable, and Republicans haven’t responded with contrary data. This high-stakes race has attracted attention from national Democrats, with former Vice President Joe Biden endorsing Markowitz this week.
Let's turn Texas blue. Please chip in $3 to Eliz Markowitz today!