Don Huffines won state Senate District 16 from incumbent John Carona in a bitterly contested Republican primary in 2014, when no Democrat ran, so this will be Huffines’ first general election. His district covers much of suburban North Dallas. If 2016 presidential results are any indicator, Huffines could be in a spot of trouble. The district, which went for Romney by 15 points in 2012, went to Clinton by 5 in 2016. Democratic opponent Nathan Johnson has a narrow shot at recreating that 2016 coalition and convincing independents and Republicans he’ll be better than Huffines.
Johnson will have some help: There’s a lot going on in Huffines’ part of the world this cycle. Above him on the ballot, Pete Sessions’ Congressional District 32 overlaps with much of his district, meaning national money is pouring in from both sides. Under him, a number of contested Texas House races add another level of unpredictability, including House District 115, currently held by Matt Rinaldi. Huffines has been fighting hard to prop up Rinaldi, whose unpopularity in his own district just might drag Huffines down a bit, too.
Huffines, like a number of lawmakers who won office in 2014 through the Republican primary, is just a little bit off — at least, compared to people who have traditionally won districts like this. Huffines is a new-style libertarian in a district of wealthy suburbanites who care a lot about their school districts. Johnson, a lawyer, has an eclectic background — among other more notable and worthy achievements on his campaign website, he notes that his music production company made music for the anime Dragon Ball Z, which should win him ground in the male millennial vote.