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September 14, 2020      5:20 PM

SB: General election campaigns ramp up with Texas House GOP embracing traditional block walking, Democrats going a different direction

Which side has more downside risk? Republicans who could offend voters by showing up in person during a pandemic or Democrats who may minimize voter contact by avoiding door knocking?

Across the state, there’s more discussion now among political professionals about whether candidates and their teams should be doing the one thing that has forever been a given for any successful bid for the Texas House: Block walking. In these local races – more akin to running for city council than to running for president – the old axiom is “if you’re walkin,’ then we’re talkin.’” In short, it has been easy to spot a losing campaign: It’s the one you can’t find on the streets.

The pandemic changes the calculus.

Just this weekend, Texas House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee Chairman Jeff Leach, R-Allen, was on social media defending his decision to embrace a field program including talking to voters at their doors. When accused of taking the coronavirus’ dangers too lightly, Chair Leach said, “We are taking all safety precautions and the vast majority of folks are gladly and eagerly opening their doors!” Leach also said it is possible to respect science and freedom simultaneously.

Striking that balance has become difficult.

After conversations with consultants, candidates, volunteers, and others familiar with how campaigns are operating one month from early voting, a fairly straightforward picture emerges.

By Scott Braddock

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