The Future of Democrats in Texas

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Crossposted at OpenLeft

I have been involved in national politics in one way or another for about 25 years now, and have been part of literally thousands of national discussions on political targeting. For most of that time, the state of Texas sticks out as the great oddity, the exception to all other demographic trends that seem to hold true around the rest of the country. At the beginning, people in targeting meetings are always saying things like “If you look at the demographics in Texas, it ought to be winnable.” By the end of every cycle, none of us at the national level is targeting the state and the state-wide Democratic candidate loses by 10-12 points.

It wasn't always this way. In the 1960s, a President from Texas led the way in getting civil rights legislation, Medicare and Medicaid, and many of the other progressive reforms of that decade. Even as the rest of the south was turning to the right and the Republican Party in those years, Texas elected crusading liberal Ralph Yarborough in 1964. A couple of decades later, Democrats – including legendary populist progressive Jim Hightower – swept to power in the 1980s, culminating with Ann Richards historic victory in the 1990 Governor's race.

But that was a while ago now. The Rove-DeLay machine has been remarkably effective over the last couple of decades. Democrats have not won a gubernatorial race since Richards' victory (and they haven't won a Presidential race since Carter in 1976). Republicans have controlled both Senate seats since Lloyd Bentsen stepped down in 1993. They have had the majority in both legislative chambers since 2003. And this has all happened as the number of Hispanics in Texas has steadily, inexorably risen year after year.

I explain why that's so important, and what I think the future of Democrats in Texas looks like, in the extended entry.In the other big state where Hispanics have grown so dramatically and consistently as a percentage of the population, California, the state has become overwhelmingly blue in Presidential, Senate, congressional, and state legislative elections, even though it had consistently supported Republican Presidential candidates in prior decades. Only the most moderate Republican governor in the country has kept the gubernatorial chair in GOP hands. All the smaller states in the southwest with steadily growing Hispanic populations – Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada – have gone from being Republican strongholds to being purple – and all of them went for Obama last year.

Look at these Texas statistics (according to data from the Forward Texas Foundation):

  • Anglos will be down to 52% of the adult population by 2010, and 49.99% – less than half – by 2012.
  • 85% of the new adult citizens eligible to vote since 2002 are minorities, most of them Hispanics.
  • Barack Obama, who didn't spend a dime targeting Texas in the 2008 general election, lost Texas by about 950,000 votes. Between 2008 and 2012, there are projected to be 1.2 million additional eligible minority voters added to the population of the state.

With statistics like these, and the trends in other formerly Republican southwestern states, you would think Democrats would be confidently developing a Texas strategy for 2010 and 2012. With George Bush gone and discredited, the DeLay machine out of commission, and a really nasty 2010 gubernatorial primary in the works between Kay Bailey Hutchison and goofy incumbent Rick Perry, you would think Texas would be at or towards the top of Democratic target lists. But in two recent trips to Texas, one to Austin and one to Houston, my talks with Texas Democrats did not reveal anything close to that kind of optimism. Sentiments ranged from being very pessimistic about the gubernatorial race to some folks who thought it was “possible if everything went our way.” And very few people I know either in Texas or in the Obama political operation are taking Texas seriously as a potential swing state in the 2012 election.

So what is going on in Texas? It's not that there aren't some smart Democratic political operatives doing good work there. For example, Matt Angle, Martin Frost's former head of the DCCC, has led an effort to revitalize the state Democratic Party, and has made significant progress in picking up competitive state legislative seats, rebuilding the party's voter file, increasing candidate fundraising, and creating a strong opposition research and rapid response capability. Another example is the great work of Burnt Orange Report in becoming the Texas blogosphere's online hub for progressive political activism.

But the fundamental problem for Texas Democrats will not be solved until the political class there and nationally finally does something about the elephant in the room: the abysmal turnout of minority voters, especially Hispanics. In 2008, Hispanics made up 32% of eligible voters in Texas, a number which will likely be about 35% by 2012, but they were only 20% of the electorate. In the 2006 off-year elections, while 45% of eligible Anglos voted, only 37% of African-Americans, 24% of Asian-Americans, and 25% of Hispanics voted.

These voter turnout problems are not inevitable. Texas is 47th in the country in turnout of eligible voters. And other states, with investment of resources to make it happen, have shown dramatic increases in Hispanic voter turnout that Texas has not seen: Colorado increased Hispanic turnout by 86% in 2008 over 2004, while New Mexico had 50% Hispanic turnout in the 2006 off-year elections compared to 25% in Texas.

It is a simple, undeniable fact: if Texas got the number in Hispanic turnout that these other states got, they would become a purple or even blue state overnight.

This hasn't happened in part because Texas is a big state and it would cost a lot of money to run the kind of voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives that have happened in other states, and national Democrats have written off Texas year after year as unwinnable, so they haven't invested the resources. But money alone is not the reason: Texas Democrats have raised and spent tens of millions of dollars per election in statewide races over the last couple of decades, but they've spent the vast majority of their money on expensive TV advertising buys. The consultants who run Texas Democratic politics don't make money on voter registration or GOTV drives, they make money on TV ads, and they have never invested in the kind of project that would pick up far more voters for Democrats than most media campaigns. And while I don't believe you can win a statewide campaign without spending money on TV, I also don't believe you can win in Texas as a Democrat if you don't devote a whole lot more to the field.

It's time to change this dynamic once and for all. Democrats already are the dominant party in California, New York, and Illinois, while Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan are purple. In the next tier of states in the electoral college, Virginia, North Carolina, and Indiana became purple in 2008, joining long time blue (Massachusetts, New Jersey) and purple (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri) double digit states. Imagine if the last of the big states became purple again, making Georgia the biggest solidly Republican state. It would be extremely tough for the Republicans to put together an electoral college majority if that were the case.

It's time for Texas and national Democrats to make this kind of investment in voter engagement work in Texas.

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29 Comments

  1. Arizona…
    “All the smaller states in the southwest with steadily growing Hispanic populations – ***Arizona***, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada – have gone from being Republican strongholds to being purple – and all of them went for Obama last year.”

    I don't believe that Obama won Arizona…

    http://www.npr.org/news/specia

  2. Thanks for the post, Mike!
    One thing to add to this — I had the opportunity to see David Plouffe speak and ask him some questions before I graduated from the Kennedy School. His main points about Texas:

    1) Voter registration must be a huge priority, and

    2) If Texas Democrats can get within 47-48% of the statewide vote this year, then OFA would have to take a serious, serious look at doing in Texas in 2012 what they did in Florida in 2008.

    • 47%-48%
      You mean for the 2010 governor's race?

      Whew, that's a task. I know Bill White has been doing voter contact/field in East texas and the urban centers, no clue on the Valley, also i have no idea what the field campaign is/has been for any statewide candidate that ran in the last 4 years here.

      Alright, the goal is to win with 50%+, failing that, better get at least 47%.

      Maybe the republicans will just give up in Harris and Dallas counties, that'd give us a nice boost. :-D

  3. Robert Ryland on

    Well well well
    Welcome to the party, Mr. Lux.

    Stimulating the Hispanic vote in Texas is a long term project, and no one wants to take it on. Period.

    You're spot-on about the consultants here, of course, but try telling that to the people who've run the Texas Democratic Party into the ground – hell, underground even – over the last 15 years.

    You'll hear things like “the climate has been terrible for Democrats down here”, “Bush was too popular here”, and “it would have been a waste of money to back so-and-so in [1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006 - take your pick]“. But the question no one ever seems to wrestle with is “why was the climate so bad?”.

    The reasons, of course, have as much to do with the cowardice and cluelessness of those who called the shots in Texas Democratic circles as it had to do with any “climate”.

    But it is what it is, and now we have all manner of lower-tier Democrats throwing spitballs at our nutty governor from all angles for his abject failures, but not a single one of consequence willing to challenge him (or his alter ego) electorally. We've got a party that mocks its' own candidates and refuses to back them substantively because they weren't chosen by a trust that has zero statewide wins in 15 years (and does just as much PR damage to the progressive cause as they give dinero to their chosen few downballot challengers). We've got an uncreative and gutless hierarchy calling most of the shots and shying away from anything resembling a muscular progressive populism even though the demographics exist to make it viable, because of their almost knee-jerk fear of the word “liberal” and looking like they might care what happens to working people in this state. Sure, they pay the requisite lip-service when it's safe. But basically they're all living in in 1998 or 2002 because that's when the big meanies shoved one up their culo and made them squeal. It's so bad, we've got some presumptuous suit from Ft. Worth who used to make paper with Dubya at taxpayer's expense, calling himself a 'Democrat' and threatening to go home and make more money if the 3.5 million Democrats in Texas have the temerity to not hand him their nomination for Governor.

    Yes, Mike, our leadership vacuum is so bad, we've got spare-ass Bush friends filling the void with Rotarian arrogance and trying to bring back the good ol' days. Shit, at least LBJ knew how to read polls and election results.  

    Yeah, Mike, it's pathetic, I know. We've got a winnable state that's unwinnable, because we can't accrue the critical mass to call out the rich tort lawyers, toll road lovers and other insulated bougies and told them to stand down and get out of the goddamn way. No one has with the stroke to move the cookie stacks has told all these the naysayers, doomsayers, and self-serving asshats, “hey, you guys have been getting your asses kicked with this lily-livered bullshit. How's about we try being using what money we have at our disposal to walk like Democrats this time, and see where the hammer falls?” The People are gonna have to do it themselves if it's gonna get done, but someone has to start fueling the groundswell; someone who with a close-range position has to step up and fire some shots and slap their soft-and-tenders on the table.

    In short, Mike, expectations have been lowered to Dan Quayle territory, where we'll be patting ourselves on the back if we can just pick up 2 seats in the state house and get within single digits of the Ag Commissioner's race. Then we'll be struttin'.

    Woohoo!! We're on our way, kids! Another 20 years and Hispanics will have 60% of the population, and then we'll show 'em!

    • You and I have the same glasses on.
      I am so glad to find someone who can see the state of the TDP for what it is.  I'm thrilled that you are willing to say it so clearly and boldly.  

      The people who have led the party through numerous defeats think they are the experts and anyone who hasn't been around as long as they have couldn't possibly be better at running the party than they are.

      We need to either work around the party machine or take it out – quickly and intensely.  

      Are you starting a movement?

      • Robert Ryland on

        Well, no.
        I work within and without that state party structure. I take the good, try to dispense with the bad, and support Democrats, which is more than those running the state party have done. (No, I don't mean you, Brian Pendleton…) It's gonna be an evolution, not an overthrow, because we don't have Fred Baron or Mikal Watts money. Perhaps there is another hope, but I haven't stumbled upon it yet.

        But we can bitch together and drink Tecate after we blockwalk, and push Bill Brannon for State Chair. How's that sound?  

  4. Beware Demographic Determinism
    This case for Texas “in play” — as the stock traders say — rests on generic assumptions about voter registration and crude demographic projections. I gather that is the very essence of “targeting”. Whatever it is, it is not new: The vast but unrealized potential of the “Hispanic” vote is a staple of wisdom among political consultants from Angle to Rove.

    There are at least three other reasons Texas should be in play:

    First, party identification here is not very different from elsewhere in the country, especially in the urban and suburban areas where Obama ran very well indeed. He carried Harris County — bigger than 25 states — where the county party and Obama leave-behind campaign cooperated in a way the state party and national Obama campaign did not.

    Second, brief as our Obama encounter was, the effects on political participation (registration + turnout) rates were dramatic, especially in urban and suburban areas of Harris County. Did I mention that everybody in Harris County is some sort of minority now and the state party's race-politics have a negative effect.

    Third, non-generic policy questions — like opposition to toll roads and almost anything to do with public education or “insurance” (government-licensed policy rackets + loan sharking + claims processing mills) — resonate with voters. But, the cringing and check-list liberalism of generic office-seekers and their risk-averse consultants precludes exploiting any issue.

    So, what's the problem with “Turning Texas Blue”, besides the fact that this is just a slogan, not an actual plan?

    Hispanic

    This is a census category, not a homogeneous community or voting block in the way generic consultants like Angle and Rove keep expecting it to be or self-styled leaders claim to represent.

    Voter registration

    Texas Democrats and Republicans long ago purged the Jim Crow Texas Election Code of explicit racism. But, with a helping hand and a blind eye, the DoJ helped them collaborate to make voter registration, re-registration, and de-registration powerful instruments of economic discrimination and disenfranshisement, especially when it comes to young, working families. Indeed, “young” and “working” turn out to be more useful categories of political analysis and mobilization than “Hispanic”.

    Party identification

    Texas has a Jim Crow Democratic Party establishment which is openly hostile to any populist candidate or progressive agenda to the left of the DLC. Its operational doctrine is “the way we've always done it!” This rule-driven, lawyer-ridden party establishment baffles and demoralizes all but a handful of sycophants and hangers-on in Austin. So, the only sort of of statewide candidate that could have any credibility at all would have to run against the Austin establishment. But, that would cost them the support of the Washington establishment, which is solidly behind the Democratic Party of Greater Austin.

    Political participation

    Winning elections in Texas takes raising political participation. But, the state party does not have that tool-set or mind-set. They are courting “likely voters” in a few districts, suppressing primary contests, spending the max $/vote on media and direct mail, and averting their eyes at the vested interests of self-perpetuating office-squatters in safe-seats. This is actually a set-up for the kind of attack politics that worked for the GOP in 1994 and 2002 when, sadly, the present party leadership kept their jobs or, in the case of Angle, moved their catastrophic focus from Washington to Austin.

    Non-generic policy questions

    The problem here is that the Democratic Party of Texas is largely just the Speaker's claque. And, the Democratic Speaker in Jim Crow Texas leads the Whig factions of both parties. So, there cannot really be much a policy dispute over anything with a well-funded lobby in Austin. Hence, the cringing and checklist liberals have to deal with matters within the narrow confines of bi-partisan concession-tending. Apart from grandstanding on social issues, — taking the sort of bait Obama does not — they are left to mock outrage (contingent-fee trail-lawyers) and pie-in-the sky (contingent-fee bond-lawyers), not very serious positions on any particular question other than Hold Harmless! and Jes' He'p Ever'body!

    Texas is so big and diverse, it needs to build a something very different from the sort of party one would expect to find in Alabama. It needs to be like VA, NC, or FL in many respects, only different, unique, actually.

    It will have to be self-governing and self-sustaining, not just a hobby for a few rich, bored or dead trial-lawyers and a meal ticket for would-be lobbyists and legislative aides masquerading as campaign consultants.

    • the Democratic Party of Greater Austin
      What a great phrase. Lots better than the Austin Centric wording I have seen and used in recent posts.

  5. Scapegoating Hispanics
    Though assuredly unintended, there is an implied scapegoating of Hispanics to this analysis.  Anglo liberals have done it for years, and I have seen it offend a lot of Hispanic political activists.

    Their replies usually point to a long list of lackluster or flawed Democratic candidates who were unable to generate enthusiastic support among Hispanics.  More ominous, they also point to a paternalistic attitude eminatng from urban Anglo liberals.

    I think their points are largely valid.  More importantly, I think it speaks to a larger problem within the party and its activists across the state.  Simply put, there is too much debate about who's to blame and not enough about how we can develop practical, realistic plans to get things done.

    The answers are not as simplistic as spending more money on GOTV and less on TV.  We have to do both.  The real question is, how do we spend our money more efficiently and more effectively?

    There's no doubt that we need to improve Hispanic turnout, and the best way to do it is to end the blame game and start working with Hispanic leaders — right now — on an achievable plan. A program imposed from Austin will fail just like the many others that preceded it.

    At the same time, Anglo Democrats need to confront another question: Why are we running so poorly among Anglos?  What can we do to fix it?

    We need to drive our party forward, but it's pretty hard to do that if we're always looking in the rearview mirror for someone to blame.

    • yessiree
      there is no plan.

      Hispanics turn out enthusiastically in the primary because candidates actually (gulp) talk to them!

      If we prioritized the areas south and west of Bexar County as much as we prioritize metro Houston and Dallas…they would turn out.

      No tony sanchez 02 comparisons need apply. sanchez was a horrible candidate with a horribly flawed strategy who never ran as an Hispanic after the Spanish-language debate with morales in the primary.

      It isn't about having an Hispanic candidate on the ballot.  Jeff is right on: it is about developing a real strategy to speak to and motivate OUR voters.

      The old adage that “if we could just get them out” hasn't worked in a really long time and likely won't work this time.  We have to employ a modern ID and turnout effort to make all of our voters feel invested in the process and motivated to participate.

      There are as many white voters who actively vote against their own interests each cycle as their are Hispanic voters that fail to turn out.

  6. Rahm McDaniel on

    Good thread
    Mike, you mention “some smart operatives” and I don't disagree. But our party in general has an enormous overhang of institutionalized strategic error and a culture of losing that “some smart operatives” can't singlehandedly overcome.

    Put it another way: let's say you personally had a half million dollars put aside for supporting campaigns for whatever reasons from noble to selfish. Will you have more success pressing your agenda, whatever it is, with the GOP or with us?  

  7. misternaxal on

    Antique Lege Show
    Good read, Mike. Glad to see you posting here.

    While I am in sympathy with many of the views of Messrs Ryland and Behrman, I think the chief problem that we, as Texas progressives, have to overcome is a structural one. It's the nature of our state legislature.

    We have a legislature constructed on 19th century rules governing one of the largest and most dynamic states in the U.S. at the dawn of the 21st century. $7200 a year for State legislators? $7200 a year for the Lieutenant Governor? The salary structure of our Lege guarantees that the interest groups are heard over the voices of the people of Texas. Guarantees it.

    Our lege is also biennial. That was probably adequate when it was written into the Texas Constitution in 1845. You know what else was adequate in 1845? Determining the number of Representatives in the state legislature by the number of free men (i.e. not African-Americans and not women). The business of governing a 21st century state cannot be adequately done once every two years in 140 day increments.

    Our 19th century legislature is the single biggest hindrance to progressive politics in Texas. Unfortunately, I feel that it's one that we will be saddled with for years to come because of the success of the Republican efforts to salt public opinion about government. They've poisoned the well to the point where we can't even think about considering modernizing our quaint legislative branch.

    A state lege that is driven into the arms of interest groups out of necessity is largely incapable of progressive reform or progressive initiatives. I think that with some rare exceptions (Anchia, Van De Putte and Watson to name three), it is also a system that does not create a bench of candidates for statewide office. This, as much as progressive governance, is vital to having a shot at statewide offices.

    I don't know what the answers to these problems are, but I do feel we need to take a longer look at these structural issues rather than just the TDP. One thing is for certain: Our Democratic firing squads have no shortage of ammo.

    • Robert Ryland on

      Perhaps.
      But it's ultimately a pointless discussion. The structure of lege isn't changing anytime soon; that's more of a pipe dream and excuse.

      As for building depth, the GOP has had plenty of success using the Lege as a bench and farm system. Perry, Patterson, Staples, Combs, KBH all started out there. It's a safe bet that folks like Dan Patrick, Dan Branch, and several others will use it as a stepping stool soon.

      It's been a bad bench-builder for US because, as JRBehrman implied, a number of our upper-tier seats have been kept warm by ineffective and often clueless incumbents in safe districts. I can think of more than a couple of state Senators who are taking up needed space and should step aside already to let some of our more promising young talent have a crack at it…  

  8. Great comments
    And this post generated a lot of thoughtful phone calls from folks in TX who know the politics here. I learned a lot from all the dialogue, and hope to get the chance to do more posts on TX politics.  

  9. Umm…
    Didn't some candidate in 2002 place his entire win condition on drastically increasing the Hispanic vote… geez, I think he WAS Hispanic himself!  Of course he didn't have the resources to do what you're talking about… WAIT, Tony spent more money on field and field based activities than anybody, Democrat OR Republican, in Texas HISORY!  

    Perhaps, just perhaps, the reason Texas voting patterns aren't the same as California or SW states is that Texas is fundamentally DIFFERENT.  Politics isn't one sized fits all.  And Texas is the single most unique state in the US in terms of politics (there's a reason that so many great political consultants come out of here.. from Begalla and Carville to Rove and his possee).  

  10. Why We Lose

    One of the biggest reasons that we lose in Texas is that we have had it drilled into our heads that we can't win, so why bother.

    I can't tell you the number of people who have said to me as an excuse as to why he/she doesn't vote:

    “My vote doesn't count.”

    “We aren't swing state.”

    “Republicans will win, anyway.”

    Clearly this is suppressing our voter turnout.  Until we convince our party leadership in Austin and DC to quit telling everyone that we can't win, we won't.

    It drove me crazy last summer when I looked at an electoral map on I think it was NPR's website.  It showed that McCain had only a 9% lead in Texas, but had Texas as blood red.  Arkansas, OTOH, McCain had a 13% lead.  But Arkansas was listed as purple…a swing state.

    That map proved that not only did we convince ourselves that a win was impossible, we convinced the media, too.  They were blatantly ignoring their own numbers.

    We need everyone including the president to say over and over that it looks like Texas is going Blue this year. We have plenty of Texas Democrats on the national stage.

    If starting now, Jim Hightower, Lou Dubose, Wayne Slater, Bill Moyers, Jim Lehrer, Dan Rather and the rest said everytime they go on some show like The Daily Show or MSNBC or Real Time with Bill Maher, that it looks like Texas is going blue this election.  Then the money and campaign support would flow into the state in 2010 and 2012 instead of out.

    If the party advised Texas students living out-of-state to vote by mail in Texas and out-of-state students to register here and vote, instead of the reverse, we could win.

    While we are at it, I want President Obama at OUR STATE CONVENTION!!  

    We should have rightfully had both Obama and Clinton at our state convention in 2010.  It was the 1st convention after the primary.  It was a primary that we turned out record voters.  Their absense said as much as anything else that we were worth the time for the contentious primary, but never mind the general.

    While we are talking about that convention, Candidate Banners Belong Behind the Podium, not corporate banners.  Can't we at least pretend that we aren't bought and paid for by Fluor and Bechtel and Conoco?

    But back to my point.  Our problem is psychological.  That is the biggest problem that we need to overcome.

    • David Van Os on

      Good for you, Aimlessness.

      You are right about the psychological sabotage of our Texas Democratic statewide tickets that has been occurring with regularity since at least 1998. But it is not a result of incompetence, accident, stupidity, or benign neglect. The architects of the sabotage are not so devoid of ordinary intelligence as to let such a huge elephant sit in the room without noticing it.

      You are almost onto the TDP's dirty little secret.

      The dirty little secret is that in most of the general elections since Martin Frost and his proteges, such as Matt Angle, have been influencing and/or controlling TDP strategies, the forfeiture of all 29 statewide offices in the state executive and judicial branches of government has been by deliberate design.

      One might ask, why in the world would they do that? Very simple: because most of the Democratic nominees for the statewide offices during this tragic time have been too much like real Democrats for their Bush-kissing tastes.

      And how and why did it get like this? Because the Beltway Democratic Consultantocracy has written off Texas in presidential elections for 28 consecutive years, thus starving Texas voters of real Democratic presence, depriving party activists of real infrastructure material, and rendering the Texas Democratic apparatus easy prey for self-serving political hustlers and phonies.

      Having a state Democratic convention hall in 2008 that was decked out in corporate logos while Democratic candidate banners were prohibited was indeed highly telling.

      If it weren't so tragic, it would be hilarious to see a member of the Beltway Consultantocracy, as Mr. Lux apparently characterizes himself, who has participated in a quarter-century of snubbing Texas voters, complaining that Texas voters demonstrate the inevitable result of decades of disregard. It's like deliberately starving a person and then accusing the person of being weak from starvation.

      My BOR diary post, “It would be hilarious if it weren't so tragic”, replies to Mr. Lux and elaborates on these themes at

      http://www.burntorangereport.c

      David Van Os

      San Antonio, Texas

  11. A Few Random Observations
    We've known that voter participation correlated with social economic status since the 1950s. Why should we be suprised when this formula works among Hispanics in Texas?

    That said, we have long known that a well-organized effort can raise levels of participation. After World War II, the UAW did major work in Michigan, putting its adaption of pretty traditional methods between two covers in a pamphlet, “How to Win.” (Republicans bought thousands of copies of it during the 1950s and 1960s.)

    The size of Texas does not make such an effort futile; the targetting of 20 counties for intensive work could produce a significant change in local and statewide contests.

    Don't expect Hispanic leaders in those counties to lead the parade; their hold on party positions is potentially at risk if turnout increases. Like Texas Republicans leaders before 1952, some of them are like Japanese gardeners.

    The easiest way to generate more interest among Hispanics is to place Hispanics in races for upper-tier state offices. Got it?

    Liberals should give up on using the example of Ralph Yarborough: he was first elected in a multicandidate special election, receiving less than half of the vote, then re-elected in 1964 with LBJ heading the ticket and Barry Goldwater crumbling before children, dandelions and mushroom-shaped clouds. Forget the Ann Richards story too; Claytie shot himself in the foot, blowing a sure-win. The point is that liberals face an uphill battle they've rarely won in Texas. Running a liberal Democrat for statewide office is pretty much like running an intellectual for the lege in East Texas. I'd vote for Kirk Watson for pretty much any office, but I doubt that he could hold the core. (Schieffer will do even worse!) Find Hispanic candidates who can win support from labor, urban liberals, and black Texans.

    • Texun, could you explain this comment?
      Don't expect Hispanic leaders in those counties to lead the parade; their hold on party positions is potentially at risk if turnout increases.”

      Sorry if I am being dense, but how does increased GOTV put their “hold on party positions” at risk?

  12. Plenty of Latinos in the Lege
    There are plenty of Latinos in the Texas Legislature.  Lon Burnam is one of our best reps.  If you want to get rid of some dead weight, how about ones like the idiot that authored the sexy cheerleader bill.  But a better idea is to replace REPUBLICANS!

    Why must we always set up our firing squads in a circle?

  13. Not sure I agree FWDem
    When I look at the voter turnout in Harris County, the state house districts with Hispanic leadership do not have compelling turnout.  I opine that because their reps don't have real challengers, and are very safe, they don't feel the need to lead (or dare I say even particpate) in heavy GOTV.  I may be wrong, and while I absolutely do acknowledge that the population in those districts has been the subject of way too much subversive disenfranchisement, I must lay some of the blame on the leaders in those districts.

    I'd love to see our elected Hispanic representatives and State senators be organized, challenged and compelled to come up with a comprehensive GOTV plan for their communities.  Am I wrong to expect and hope for that?

  14. rofl! gotta be kidding
    “Plenty of Latinos in the Texas Legislature”  You meant to say, there are enough?

    There are none from Tarrant County, a major metropolitan area.  You have to allow all communities to have a place at the table.  Tarrant could become more cometitive with an empowered and engaged Latino community that has matured. Dallas County has two Latino legislators and they now have swept the county races.  This is because all communities, black, white, and hispanic have skin in the game.  Democrats of all descriptions –all ethnicities and sexual orientations pulled together for the big team win.

    And I don't agree that Lon is one of our best reps.  I prefer serious-minded and credible representatives like Gallego, Anchia, and Hochberg.  Lon is a sideshow, not a serious rep.

  15. what is your point again?
    So, should we have an anglo dem representing Carol Alvarado's district?  That will better turn out Hispanics?

    Any reps who are not helping with a coordinated campaign in resources and time should be chided.  That has nothing to do with race.  There are disinterested Democratic state reps all over the state and of every ethnicity.  All legislators should be encouraged to help the party in general elections.

  16. I agree with you.
    But if the consensus in this particular conversation is that we have never had Hispanic turnout at the level that it could be, then please accept my comment for what it is. We should look to the leaders a bit more for well, um…leadership on this issue of GOTV.

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