Election 2020

GOP Incumbent McCaul Holds Slight Edge In Rematch With Mike Siegel For Houston-Austin Congressional District

Republican Congressman Michael McCaul had the closest contest of his career in 2018 against Democratic attorney Mike Siegel

Siegel Campaign, Michael McCaul on Facebook
Democrat Mike Siegel, left, is challenging Republican Michael McCaul for a congressional district that stretches from Houston to Austin.

GOP congressman Michael McCaul continues to holds the advantage in the final weeks of his rematch against Democratic attorney Mike Siegel — but political experts say the challenger could be closing the gap.

McCaul is seeking a ninth term representing Texas’ 10th Congressional District, which stretches from western Harris County to Austin and covers several largely rural counties in between.

Those rural counties tend to vote Republican, and regularly delivered McCaul sizable majorities in most of his contests up until 2018.

But it was that most recent race — McCaul's first matchup with Siegel — that gave him his closest call to date. McCaul prevailed over Siegel that time by a little more than four percentage points.

This year, Democrats hope Siegel has enough support to bridge the gap.

"This race is marked by most of your political analysts around the country as ‘leans Republican,’" said political analyst Nancy Sims. "It's gone from ‘likely Republican’ to ‘leans Republican.’ So, like many of the races across Texas right now, it will boil down to voter turnout."

Sims said the Houston and Austin ends of the district, anchored in the suburbs of each city, are more likely to tilt Democratic.

"If (Siegel) can increase turnout, and if we continue to see voter turnout across the state at the levels it has been the first two days (of early voting), then he may have a chance to pick up those extra 6,000 votes or so he would need to win the election," Sims said.

Still, Sims said that the combination of the rural core of the district and McCaul's seniority as an eight-term incumbent combine to give him the edge over Siegel.

The main issues in the race have been health care, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the economy.

McCaul has been stressing the role he has played as an incumbent in securing aid for local hospitals, while the Bernie Sanders-backed Siegel has been calling for a much greater mobilization of the federal government to confront the crisis, akin to the New Deal.

McCaul has also used his role as head of the all-Republican congressional China Task Force to try to draw attention to the role he says the Chinese government played in the early spread of the coronavirus.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew Schneider is the senior reporter for politics and government at Houston Public Media, NPR's affiliate station in Houston, Texas. In this capacity, he heads the station's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments...

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