Republican Troy Nehls face off against Democrat Sri Preston Kulkarni in Texas' 22nd congressional district.
The House seat is open after incumbent Rep. Pete Olson announced his plans to retire after finishing his term in 2020.
The district contains much of the southern region and municipalities of the Greater Houston area.
Republican Sheriff Troy Nehls squares off against Democrat Sri Preston Kulkarni in Texas' 22nd congressional district. The seat is currently held by Rep. Pete Olson, who announced in July 2019 his plans to retire after 2020.
Nehls, who currently serves as the Sherif of Fort Bend County, is a veteran of the U.S. war in Korea. He was a member of the U.S. Army Reserve for 21 years and retired with the rank of major. This is currently his second term as Sherif. According to his campaign website, Nehls is running to increase the quality of mental and physical healthcare for veterans and protecting oil and gas jobs in Texas.
Before running for office, Kulkarni worked as a diplomat in the United States Foreign Service for fourteen years. He previously ran against Olson in 2018 to represent the district and narrowly lost by five percent. In 2015, he worked as a foreign policy and defense advisor for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Kulkarni was motivated to run for office after white nationalist protests in Charlottesville, North Carolina killed one person and sent a Houstonian in the hospital. In his campaign website, he notes that "these aren't issues of right and left but of right and wrong."
Texas' 22nd congressional district covers the south-southwest region of the greater Houston metropolitan area. This area includes most of Fort Bend County, a small section of Harris County, and the cities of Sugar Land, Missouri City, Needville, Rosenberg, and Friendswood.
The district is one of Texas' most racially diverse. Twenty-seven percent of its residents identify as Hispanic or Latino of any race, 19% are Asian, and 14% are Black, according to US Census Data.
The district has also shifted towards Democrats at a rapid rate in the past several election cycles. While Mitt Romney carried the district by over 25 percentage points in 2012, President Donald Trump won it by about eight percentage points in 2016, according to the Daily Kos, and in Texas' 2018 US Senate race, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Democrat Beto O'Rourke almost exactly tied in the district at 49.9% to 49.3%.
The money race
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Kulkarni has raised $2.4 million – over 4 times than his opponent, Nehls, with $500,000. Nehls has already spent most of his campaign donations and has only $30,000 remaining. In contrast, Kulkarni has $1.2 million in cash on hand for November.
What experts say
The race between Kulkarni and Nehls is rated as a "toss-up" by Inside Elections, The Cook Political Report, and Sabato's Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
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