HOUSTON – United States House District 22 has been reliably red since the days of Tom DeLay.
But with U.S. Rep. Pete Olson announcing his retirement, candidates have come out of the woodwork hoping to replace him.
Republicans are battling to keep the seat in their party and three Democrats are hoping to flip it blue.
Changing demographics mean the district is now in play
Two-thirds of District 22 is in Fort Bend County and that area's increasingly diverse demographics mean there are more voters who traditionally vote for Democrats.
Olson won reelection in 2018, but it was close. Democrat Sri Kulkarni lost by only 5 percentage points.
"Sri Kulkarni is the one who essentially showed Democrats that this race is competitive and one they can win," said Mark Jones, professor of political science at Rice University's Baker Institute.
Who is running?
So far, there are six Republicans in the race: Keli Chevalier, Greg Hill, Matthew Hitton, Howard L. Steele Jr., Kathaleen Wall and Thaddeus (Joe) Walz.
Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls has hinted he will run but he will have to resign his current position to do so and, therefore, is not expected to officially declare until shortly before the Dec. 9 filing deadline.
On the Democratic side, Sri Kulkarni, Nyanza Davis Moore and Derrick Reed are running.
What will it take to win?
Jones said both sides will need to focus on voters of color.
"The way a Republican wins is by not forfeiting of underrepresented minorities to the Democratic candidate. The way a Democrat wins is by winning a large share of the non-Anglo vote, as well as mobilizing non-Anglo turnout," Jones said.
The 2020 primary election is March 3.