Wed Sep 18, 2013, 04:44 PM
marble falls (10,269 posts)
Democrats hoping for a blue Texas
Democrats hoping for a blue Texas
by Naureen Khan
September 18, 2013 2:45AM ET
It won't happen fast, but renewed energy in party and state's changing demographics give them hope.
DUNCANVILLE, Texas -- On an August afternoon in this Dallas suburb, nine Democrats gathered in the living room of Alice Kinsey, a 57-year-old mother of two, to celebrate President Barack Obama’s 52nd birthday and discuss their party’s future over chocolate cake and lemonade.
Kinsey, wearing a T-shirt declaring “Working Hard to Turn My Texas Blue,” is used to being a political minority -- her parents felt they were the lone liberals in her 9,000-person hometown of Lamesa in the panhandle. But in recent years Kinsey has found herself among more like-minded company. She and the others in the room have worked phone banks together and canvassed all over North Texas.
Democrats in Texas have had little to celebrate during the past 30 years. Since President Lyndon B. Johnson, a Texan Democrat, signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the state has shifted progressively rightward: In 1976, Jimmy Carter became the last Democratic nominee for President to receive the state’s electoral votes.
But Kinsey and the others are convinced that their party is finally -- really this time -- on the cusp of a comeback, and that Texas could sooner rather than later elect a Democratic governor and help send a Democrat to the White House. With 38 electoral votes, a Democratic Texas would make it near-impossible to elect a Republican president.
Among the group at Kinsey’s gathering was Caitlin Karbula, 24, a staffer for Battleground Texas, a nascent political organization that set up shop in Austin seven months ago with the ambitious goal of ending one-party rule in the state. The project was started by Jeremy Bird, who ran the national field operation for Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign and has exhibited a talent for coaxing Democratic-leaning, minority and young voters to the polls in key swing states. The organization, which has 19 full-time staff members and has raised $1.1 million this year according to its latest financial disclosure reports, is directing much-needed resources to the state’s starved Democratic Party.
There are smaller victories for Democrats, too. Last year, Mary Gonzalez, a 29-year-old openly LGBT and unapologetically progressive graduate student and activist, ran for a state House seat in a socially conservative West Texas district and won her primary against two male Democrats, and went on to win the general election uncontested.
"No one thought that someone like me would get elected and I think it is an indicator of things that are changing,” she told Al Jazeera. “People are now realizing Texas has much more potential to be progressive than anyone ever thought.”
Democrats in Texas, like Kinsey and her friends, believe that prolonged one-party rule has disregarded the needs of the state’s most marginalized populations -- the legions of low-wage workers in the state, the uninsured, and poor minorities. They also charge that decades of GOP dominance have created a culture of chronically low political participation.
But they see hope in the long-shimmering but unfulfilled promise of changing demographics in Texas, where 38 percent of the state’s population is Latino, a population that sides with Democrats nationally by a 2-1 ratio. Add in the new political infrastructure being built by Battleground Texas, and the recent infusion of energy in the party, led by Davis, and a Texas Democrat could believe that a purple Texas is at least in the realm of possibility.
“An immediate turnaround would be very difficult,” said former Sen. Bob Krueger, one of the last Democrats to have held statewide elected office in Texas -- and that was for all of five months in 1993.
Making matters more difficult is Texas’ new voter ID law, expected to take effect in 2014, which opponents say is designed to disenfranchise minorities and other Democratic-leaning voters. Under the new law, conceal-carry gun licenses are an acceptable form of ID at the polls; student ID cards are not. State GOP lawmakers have also used their dominance of the Texas House and Senate to redraw districts to maximize Republican voting power.
Meanwhile, Democrat hopes that Texas could turn blue if demographic trends persist and the GOP is unable to expand its appeal to Hispanic voters is nothing new -- political analysts and pollsters have been making those predictions for almost a decade.
Hispanics accounted for two-thirds of the state’s growth from 2000 to 2010, according to Census figures. But so far, Hispanic voters have not helped tilt elections toward Democrats as they have in some other states, like New Mexico, Nevada, California, and even Virginia. Nate Cohn of The New Republic posits that Latinos’ share of the voting-eligible population is just too low -- 26 percent versus the 57 percent of the electorate that is white -- and that Democrats would have to achieve record minority turnout and increase Obama’s popularity among white voters in order to win.
Progressive activists insist that the deeply-rooted culture of voter disengagement in the state is to blame, but that it can be changed. Texas ranked 48th in voter turnout in 2012, with 50.1 percent of all eligible voters showing up at the polls, according to an analysis by Nonprofit Vote, a nonpartisan organization that seeks to increase civic participation. Hispanic turnout in the state was even more dismal: 38.8 percent, according to Census figures.
Tilling the soil
5 replies, 907 views
Democrats hoping for a blue Texas (Original post)
|marble falls||Sep 2013||OP|
|marble falls||Sep 2013||#4|
Response to blkmusclmachine (Reply #2)
Thu Sep 19, 2013, 02:28 AM
Rstrstx (674 posts)
3. Aside from Wendy, they'll probably keep ignoring us a few more years
But keep an eye on Arizona - once you see the dems moving for that state it's a sign T-Day will be coming soon. AZ is like a mini-TX, much cheaper to flip, and has slightly more favorable demographics (Arizonans are basically Texans who don't go to church). A victory there can then serve as a blueprint for the invasion of TX.
Response to marble falls (Original post)
Thu Sep 19, 2013, 08:17 AM
marble falls (10,269 posts)
4. We lost it, we'll be the ones to get it back. The worst part of it is most Republicans...
aren't even Republicans, they're self centered greedy hateful "Christian" 'independent' Teabillies who hate both parties but have the GOP in a headlock.