National Democrats are increasingly assertive about their chances in Texas this election — and they’re spending accordingly

Democrat Lizzie Pannill Fletcher and Republican Wesley Hunt are running for the Houston area’s 7th Congressional District seat. Credit: Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune and Hunt Campaign

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A leading Democratic super PAC is switching its advertising strategy in the Houston area from a defensive posture to an offensive one, a notable shift in the homestretch across Texas' wide congressional battlefield.

Beginning Thursday, the House Majority PAC, is redirecting TV ad spending from the 7th Congressional District — where freshman Rep. Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, D-Houston, is running for reelection — to the 22nd District, where Democrats are trying to flip the seat of retiring Rep. Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land. That's according to two Democratic sources familiar with information about media buys.

The shift is a move of confidence in Fletcher's reelection prospects, according to one of those sources who is familiar with HMP's strategy. HMP is a Democratic super PAC that aims to elect Democrats to the House and is aligned with House Democratic leadership.

The sources asked not to be identified because they were not given permission to discuss the strategy.

The race for Olson's seat pits Republican Troy Nehls, the Fort Bend County sheriff, against Democrat Sri Preston Kulkarni, the former diplomat who came up 5 points short against Olson in 2018.

Fletcher is being challenged by Republican Wesley Hunt, a graduate of West Point who served eight years in the U.S. Army. Hunt's campaign released an internal poll Friday that gave Fletcher a 2-percentage-point lead, within the margin of error.

There are no Republican outside groups supporting Hunt's campaign, but he handily outraised Fletcher in the third quarter of the campaign and reported $1.4 million in cash on hand at the end of September. Fletcher, however, maintained the cash-on-hand advantage, reporting she had $1.6 million for the final stretch of the campaign.

HMP's Republican counterpart, the Congressional Leadership Fund, is no longer on the air in Fletcher's district and does not have any plans to return but continues to monitor the race.

While national Democrats have designated 10 pickup opportunities across Texas, the GOP has focused its offense here on Fletcher’s district as well as that of Rep. Colin Allred, D-Dallas. But Fletcher’s seat was the only one that saw significant national investment until recently, as Allred’s GOP challenger, Genevieve Collins, has remained financially competitive partly due to her self-funding.