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Begin Battleground Texas

by: Michael Hurta

Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 09:30 AM CST

Reinforcements have arrived in the form of cavalry. Battleground Texas is here.

For years and years, Texas Democrats have been holding down the fort without much help. Texas Democrats have had some good days (winning 74 House seats in 2008) while still failing to smell a majority. Activists have told anyone who would listen around the country that Democrats can win if only with some help, but we've persevered on our own. Now, however, the much anticipated Battleground Texas is here. The reinforcements have finally arrived.

Advised by the National Field Director from Obama for America, Jeremy Bird, Battleground Texas launched as a "multimillion dollar effort" to elect Democrats statewide in Texas again. Bird summarized Texas Democrats' frustrations while stating Battleground Texas's purpose:

With its size and diversity, Texas ought to be a place where local races are hotly-contested and anyone who wants to be President has to compete. Yet time and again, grassroots volunteers throughout the state have told us that Republican officials in Austin and Washington have failed to stand for Texans. We know part of the problem is too few Texans are participating in the democratic process - so we're bringing some of the best talent and strategies in politics to the Lone Star State to help expand the electorate by registering more voters and by mobilizing Texans who are already registered but haven't been making their voices heard.

Leading the effort, based out of Austin, are Jenn Brown and native Texan Christina Gomez. Brown comes to Texas as the organization's Executive Director after she successfully ran  President Obama's field operations in Ohio. Gomez returns home to the fight as Battleground Texas's Digital Director after serving as a digital strategist for the Democratic National Committee.

Can this major effort mobilize Texans in a way that makes a difference? As organizers from Battleground Texas have spoken with Democratic Party leaders in Texas, the answer is clear: Yes we can. The smartest political minds in the country  clearly give Texas Democrats an edge we didn't have before, especially when backed by national donors, but we still need to fight, too. Join the effort at battlegroundtexas.com or read on to see how change can come to the Lone Star State.

A fact-sheet provided by 270 Strategies, Jeremy Bird's new firm, reiterated points made by Texas Democrats over the yeras who have tried to gain buy-in from national donors and operatives:
  • At the most basic level, the latest census statistics show fully 56% of the Texas population is Latino, Asian-American, African-American, or another minority group - yet we're not seeing anything close to this kind of diversity reflected in the people who represent Texans in public office.
  • The non-white vote is growing rapidly in Texas. Even if the Democratic Party does nothing for the next 8 years, Democrats will gain a net 2 percentage points just due to demographic change.
  • There is plenty of room to increase voter participation among key communities in Texas - just 49% of eligible voting age African-Americans and 35% of eligible voting age Latinos voted in 2008.

The fact-sheet then also emphasized that the share of Latino voters in Texas, 26.4%, is the second largest of any state in America. The report then noted that among the 10 states with the largest Latino electorates, only Texas (and Arizona) voted GOP in 2012. Yet, at the same time, 70% of Texas Latinos supported President Obama in his reelection.

These numbers seem seriously favorable for Democrats in such a Republican state, so Battleground Texas proposes a simple solution: do what has worked before. Battleground Texas's active engagement approach has succeeded in other states. In Colorado and Nevada, voter participation among minority populations rose dramatically in voter-registration and Get-out-the-vote efforts that were made as the states turned blue.

The voter participation comparisons between those Democratic states and Texas is stark. But Texas has not seen sustained campaigning from Democrats with any major force in many years. A continued and consistent effort can make a big difference. It won't happen overnight, but the will is there: we can become Battleground Texas.  

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