Case Study: Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo

In the 2018 midterms, largely regarded as a "blue wave" year, first-time candidate Lina Hidalgo narrowly unseated the Republican Incumbent County Judge in Harris County, Texas. The results were considered an upset, as Ed Emmett, the incumbent had held the position for 11 years and had won previous reelection races with landslide margins (Zaveri).

This is a very clear example of a Latina candidate performing well and overperforming the conventional wisdom with the help of demographics that favor their candidacies.  Harris County has changed tremendously over the past few decades. As of 2020, the county is 43% Hispanic/Latino, 28% White, and 19% Black (US Census Bureau).

This race is a very clear example of a Latina candidate performing well in a political environment that is very rapidly changing and diversifying. While only one Democratic Presidential candidate won Harris county between 1948 and 2008, it's moved in a direction favorable to candidates who appeal across racial lines and who advocate for progressive policies, much like Hidalgo.  

In the 2022 cycle, Hidalgo faced a tough reelection bid but ultimately prevailed over her challenger, Republican Alexandra Del Moral Mealer, by ~2%. The race focused on the perception of a rise in crime in Harris County, and Mealer went on the attack on that issue (Schneider).

Hidalgo is viewed by many as a rising star in the Texas Democratic Party, and a potential candidate for higher or statewide office (Martinez).

Prev Next