Election 2020

With Sri Kulkarni, Democrats Now Hope They Can Flip The 22nd Congressional District

The district has been undergoing substantial demographic changes, and Democrats think they can make inroads.

Sri Preston Kulkarni is running as a Democrat to represent the Texas 22nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Sri Preston Kulkarni on Tuesday won the Democratic primary for U.S. House District 22 — a seat Democrats are hoping to flip come November.

With all precincts reporting, Kulkarni was projected to win 53.5% of the vote in unofficial results released by the Texas Secretary of State, according to the Texas Tribune.

Kulkarni, a former diplomat, ran but lost against Olson in 2018. Kulkarni is fluent in Spanish, Hindi, and Mandarin Chinese, which gave him an advantage in communicating with the district's large immigrant population.

Texas' 22nd Congressional District has been in Republican hands for most of the last 40 years. Its voters have frequently voted for Republican congressional candidates by a margin of two-to-one over Democrats.

But the district has been undergoing substantial demographic changes. Fort Bend County, which accounts for about 70% of the votes in the 22nd, is now one of the most ethnically and racially diverse counties in the country.

That diversity benefited Democrats in recent county-level elections. In 2018, Congressman Pete Olson (R) won reelection by just 5 percentage points. He announced last July that he would retire at the end of his current term.

Fifteen Republicans jockeyed to replace Olson. That race went to a runoff, with Troy Nehls and Kathaleen Wall both garnering less than 50% of the vote needed to win.

Fort Bend County Sheriff Nehls and Pierce Bush, grandson of President George H.W. Bush, entered the race with the greatest name recognition. But in what some considered an upset, Bush did not make the runoff.

Nehls ran on a pledge to crack down on illegal immigration and to support the funding of President Trump's proposed wall on the southern U.S. border. That’s a position he shared with Wall, a major Republican donor and former candidate for Texas' 2nd Congressional District.

The Democratic field was more compact, with just five candidates. Kulkarni’s main competitors for the Democratic nomination were attorney Nyanza Davis Moore and former Pearland city council member Derrick Reed.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media's business reporter, covering the oil...

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