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"What might have been" is a favorite game of political junkies, particularly election junkies - stories of races past, narrow victories or losses that wound up redefining politics in a particular state or region for years to come. To find the latest (and greatest?) what-might-have-been in the Lone Star State, the second-largest state in the nation, we have to go back to 1998.

Then-Governor George W. Bush, having won a surprising victory over well-liked Democrat Ann Richards in 1994, was gearing up for a crushing reelection victory to solidify his bona fides for a 2000 presidential run. The state Democratic Party was licking its wounds from Bush's victory in 1994 and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison's victory in 1993 (taking the old seat of Democratic Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen).

The Dems were far from dead, however, at least at the time. They held several important statewide offices, including those of Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock, Land Commissioner Garry Mauro, and Comptroller John Sharp. All three men had won reelection even in the Republican wipeout of 1994, as had Attorney General Dan Morales and Treasurer Martha Whitehead. And the Democrats enjoyed a majority in the State Legislature to boot, along with a majority of the state's Congressional delegation.

Bush looked too strong to beat, but the Democrats decided to take a shot anyway. Bullock wouldn't run for Governor (he got along well with Bush, and in fact endorsed him in his presidential run), or anything at all (he was also 69 years old and would die of cancer within a year). So the Democrats nominated Mauro for the office.

Sharp was perhaps the strongest statewide candidate, but wary of Bush's strength, he took a step down and ran for the vacant office of Lieutenant Governor. For his open office, the Democrats found a gem of a candidate: Paul W. Hobby, the 38-year-old son of one of Texas' most beloved politicians, longtime Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby.

Aside from an almost certain loss in the gubernatorial race, it all looked great on paper, especially as resistance started to build nationwide to Newt Gingrich's impeachment of popular Democratic President Bill Clinton.

Unfortunately, Bush's reelection campaign, headed by Karl Rove, slaughtered Mauro at the polls, receiving 69% of the vote. The landslide was so overwhelming that another Rove client, an Agriculture Commissioner named Rick Perry, rode Bush's coattails to pull out a very, very narrow victory over Sharp for Lieutenant Governor, 50% to 48%.

Paul Hobby's race was even closer; he lost his bid for Comptroller by one-half of a point. Dan Morales retired, and was replaced as Attorney General by Republican John Cornyn.

If Bush's coattails at the top of the ticket had been even slightly shorter, John Sharp and Paul Hobby would almost certainly have won. Instead, Sharp, Morales, Mauro and the late Bob Bullock shared the distinction of being the last Democrats elected statewide in Texas.

The 1998 election would come to define the next decade-plus of politics not just in Texas, but nationally. Rick Perry would ascend to the governorship in 2001, while John Cornyn would become a U.S. Senator two years later. Meanwhile, Bush's landslide reelection vaulted him to the top of the 2000 Republican presidential field and paved the way for his ascendance to the Presidency.

1998 was the beginning of the end for the Texas Democratic Party; it was also their last, best chance to keep the statewide bench alive. It's hard not to think about what might have been if things had gone slightly differently.

At the very least, John Sharp, had he performed just slightly better in 1998, would have become Governor in 2001 when George Bush was elected President. As an incumbent, he might actually have won reelection in 2002 - Democrats like Brad Henry in Oklahoma and Phil Bredesen in Tennessee were able to win that year. Given the strong performance of Democrats statewide in 2006, there's a chance John Sharp could still be Governor today. It's also likely that as Governor, Sharp could have prevented the infamous mid-decade redistricting that cost the Democratic Party six U.S. House seats (and cost Texas dearly in terms of influence; three of the defeated Democrats, Jim Turner, Martin Frost and Charlie Stenholm, all would have become committee chairs upon the Democratic victory in 2006).

If only.

Texas Democrats started to claw their way back, nearly winning a majority in the State House in 2008 before losing 23 seats in the 2010 avalanche. Statewide, though, Democrats haven't even come very close to victories (the closest was Sharp's bid for Lieutenant Governor in 2002, which he lost by 6 points).

Usually the breakdown is something like this:

A bad candidate in a bad year loses by 20-odd points.
A good candidate in a bad year, or a bad candidate in a good year, loses by 15 points (like Bill White last year, who lost by 13, or Rick Noriega in 2008, who lost by 12).
A good candidate in a good year could probably break single digits.

So where do things go from here?

For one thing, the demographics of the state are changing rapidly, and will continue to do so...and that's going to change voting patterns, eventually. It's projected that by 2020 - just ten years from now - the Hispanic population will outnumber the white population in Texas. (In fact, there are already more blacks and Hispanics than whites in Texas).

Texas Hispanics frequently don't vote in numbers proportional to their share of the population, which is one part of the reason that Republicans still dominate in Texas (witness the 2010 victory of white Republican Blake Farenthold in a Democratic, majority-Hispanic district, TX-27; only about 100,000 votes were cast total in that election, less than half the number of votes cast in some other Texas districts). Still, the larger Texas' Hispanic population gets, the better off the Democrats will be long-term.

At the local level, the Dems have probably got nowhere to go but up. Republicans have supermajorities in the state House and Senate, which is probably not sustainable, and they should lose some seats in 2012 just because of how big their majorities are.

Statewide, the next big prize is the 2012 U.S. Senate race, an open-seat battle to fill the seat of retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Public Policy Polling was in the field last weekend in Texas, and they have some fairly unsurprising numbers. They tested four Republicans (Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams, Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, and Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones), along with three Democrats (former Rep, Chet Edwards, John Sharp, and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro.

For brevity's sake I've only included the numbers for Edwards and Sharp (the two stronger Democrats) against Dewhurst and Williams (the strongest and weakest Republicans, respectively), but you can click through for all the matchups.

Public Policy Polling. 1/14-16. Registered voters. MoE 3.3%.

David Dewhurst (R) 50
Chet Edwards (D) 31

David Dewhurst (R) 49
John Sharp (D) 31

Michael Williams (R) 42
Chet Edwards (D) 31

Michael Williams (R) 42
John Sharp (D) 30

None of the candidates are well-known at all, except Dewhurst. Sharp's favorables are the best among Democrats, Dewhurst's the best among Republicans.

Dewhurst is well-known, has plenty of money, and is relatively well-liked. If he wins the primary, he's almost assured victory.

Will he win the primary? The Tea Party loves Michael Williams (a radical Jim DeMint type), and they love Solicitor General Ted Cruz, so I'd pick one of those as the likeliest candidates to catch lightning in a bottle and upset Dewhurst.

If that happens, a Democrat like Sharp or Edwards might, maybe, maybe have a shot at making this race competitive. Williams' leads are relatively thin for Texas - only 11-12 points - he's considered an extremist, and he's a pretty bad fundraiser.

Sharp's the only Dem in at the moment. You could do worse - he is, as noted above, the last Democrat to actually win statewide, and he's got money of his own.

Interestingly, the Democrat currently pulling the best numbers statewide in Texas is actually Barack Obama:

Mike Huckabee (R) 55
Barack Obama (D) 39

Mitt Romney (R) 49
Barack Obama (D) 42

Newt Gingrich (R) 48
Barack Obama (D) 43

Sarah Palin (R) 47
Barack Obama (D) 46

Rick Perry (R) 45
Barack Obama (D) 45

Those are pretty good numbers. No Democratic presidential nominee since Bill Clinton has come within single digits in Texas (he nearly won the state in 1992). Yet there Obama is...and not just against Palin, but against Romney, widely considered the most "electable" Republican.

It's odd that right at the moment when Texas Democrats appear to be at lowest ebb, there's actually the potential for Barack Obama to contest the state (all it takes is an improving economy and a Palin nomination).

So it's been a rough 12 years for Texas Democrats, ever since the near-misses of 1998. Things are about as bad right now as they've ever been.

Is this where the revival begins? It might be. If the Presidential race is genuinely competitive for the first time in two decades, it's likely to be a pretty decent year for Democratic candidates for the Texas House and in U.S. House races, even if the Senate seat remains out of reach.

Let's hope these numbers hold, and that the state's changing demographics coupled with an increasingly unpleasant collection of Republican presidential candidates can breathe some life into the Texas Democratic Party.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 02:09 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  That about the ONLY ray of hope... (0+ / 0-)

    the demographics of the state are changing rapidly, and will continue to do so...and that's going to change voting patterns, eventually. It's projected that by 2020 - just ten years from now - the Hispanic population will outnumber the white population in Texas.

    Lord knows we white folks aren't ever going to vote decently, as an aggregate. (Do I really need to cite literally EVERY election in American history as evidence?)

    I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

    by punditician on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 02:15:06 PM PST

  •  In a state where 6 (or was it 7?) ... (12+ / 0-)

    ...congressional seats were uncontested by Democrats in 2010 because they are just too Republican, and the massively Republican state legislature will soon begin redistricting to gain them more seats, including the four they got as a result of last year's Census outcome, I'm pretty pessimistic that we're going to see much of revival of Democrats any time soon. That doesn't, obviously, means we should give up. But, for now, my condolences to blue Texans.  

    Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 02:21:27 PM PST

  •  I've given up (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PDiddie, Libby Shaw, Bush Bites, grsplane

    This state is pretty much no-man's-land, as far as I'm concerned. I can't think of a governor, Dem or GOP, who has done a worse job than Perry, and he's popular as fuck. All it takes to win here is to talk about abortion, and the crazy Christian bloc comes out in droves.

    Proud supporter of nuclear power!

    by zegota on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 02:21:45 PM PST

  •  Nice informative diary. Thanks! (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cardinal, Floande, txcatlin, tardis10, loblolly

    "This country is not overrun with rebels and free thinkers. It's overrun with sheep and conformists." Bill Maher

    by willkath on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 02:23:32 PM PST

  •  When I moved to Texas (6+ / 0-)

    in 1978, everybody but John Tower was a Democrat.

    Why don't you try reading the rules, Shankopotamus?

    by bugscuffle on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 02:25:47 PM PST

    •  Don't forget the Bushes (4+ / 0-)

      George W. was running for the House that year (and losing.)  Of course, remember that pre-1980 or so, most of the Democrats elected to office in Texas were DINOs.  Aside from a handful of urban Congressmen, Lloyd Bentsen was really about as liberal as they got.

      •  Well there was Ralph Yarborough... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, BlackSheep1, buckhorn okie

        Let's put the jam on the lower shelf so the little people can reach it

        "

        Yarborough was a Texas  New Deal Democrat who was elected to the Senate in 1957, back  when LBJ was our other senator. He was riding in the motorcade when John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas. Yarborough voted for the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. He supported and authored landmark progressive legislation for LBJ's Great Society, Medicaid, the War on Poverty, federal support for higher education and veterans, and  the Endangered Species Act. He was a critic of the Vietnam War, and supported Robert Kennedy's presidential bid.  He lost to Lloyd Bensen in 1970.  Some of you might have heard of some of Ralph Yarborough's former aides- Jim Hightower and Ann Richards.

        We sure could use another senator like him.

        Good thing we've still got politics in Texas -- finest form of free entertainment ever invented.- Molly Ivins

        by loblolly on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 06:54:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The proposed budget might upend things (5+ / 0-)
    It's my understanding the rethugs are proposing cutting $17 billion, including deep cuts in higher ed that go so far as to close small community colleges and slash entire departments in prestigious universities.

    It's also my understanding that the budget crisis there was hidden by Perry, and that it parallels California's.

    Oops. There's goes that positive employment and housing rating.

    I predict 2 effects: either they throw the rethugs out or they starve the state so badly, everyone but the rethugs and teabaggers leaves.

  •  Wondering just what kind of (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PDiddie, esquimaux, txcatlin

    Democrats would come out of Texas? Folks that Barbara Jordon or Anne Richards or LBJ would recognize as Democrats or more like Lieberman or Bayh?

    Well,they say we have to start somewhere.

    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 02:31:56 PM PST

    •  We had a great candidate in Bill White. (12+ / 0-)

      He's a conservative Dem but not an ideologue. He's very pro-education, very pro-clean energy, R&D, and he had a very common sense, humane border policy that focused on crime and didn't pander to the racists.
      Our House candidate up here called himself a "frugal progressive", very pro-clean energy, common sense, etc.
      Not every conservative Dem that represents conservative districts is a whore to Wall Street or Big Oil.
      Some are just operating in good-faith and representing their constituents.
      Progressive ideas would have at least had a place at the table with White running things.

      •  He lost pretty handily, tho, didn't he? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tardis10, Inoljt
      •  Even LBJ couldn't have won this year (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BlackSheep1, buckhorn okie

        Bill White was our best candidate in a very long time - remember Tony Sanchez?  I agree that Bill needed more TV ads sooner. He is very well known and liked in Houston, but not in the rest of the state. I did a lot of phone banking for White, who ran a good campaign, but a lot of people I talked to were just not familiar with him. In addition, I know why he didn't appear with the President, but some of the black voters I spoke with thought it was disrespectful to Obama. Maybe that had something to do with the fact that a lot of our Democratic voters just didn't show up.

        I worked in the polls on election day, and there sure were a lot of Republicans and tea party folks there that day.

        Good thing we've still got politics in Texas -- finest form of free entertainment ever invented.- Molly Ivins

        by loblolly on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 07:01:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Ann Richards (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      annieli, tardis10

      Seems a bit harsh----But Ann Richards sort of deserted her progressive base and took them for granted.  I campaigned, donated and voted for her.  But---when questioned about progressive changes----her response was "I will deal with that in my second term."   Ha---George Bush via his brain---Karl Rove put a kink in that plan.

    •  Ben Nelson of NE. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10

      Joe Manchin of WV. Yeah, that kind.

      "You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think." -- Dorothy Parker, who knew someone like Jeff Gannon

      by PDiddie on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 02:50:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And there's the big question (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PDiddie

        Knowing what it would take to win in a largely conservative, church-going, gun-owning state like Texas, the question that has to proceed the
        Can-We-Win-Office-In-Texas-Question is the Can-We-Get-Good-Democrats-Rather-Than-Blue-Dogs-Question.

        I mean, if you're going to get Dems who are going to go against every progressive mandate, is it worth it to just have the numbers?

        The Republican Party is Michael Douglas. The Tea Party is Glenn Close

        by Jank2112 on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 05:08:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for the splash of hope. I do think Texas (15+ / 0-)

    is on the cusp of a major change. You didn't mention the $27 billion budget deficit that idiot Perry created, and the opportunity to rub the GOP'S nose in it.
    He's got some crazy plans on the horizon too, in order to get national attention for his Pres. run.

  •  Support the Teabaggers, register Hispanics. (0+ / 0-)
    And hope for the best.
  •  Hell, can we rebuild AMERICA after 8 years (6+ / 0-)

    of bush and 30 years of fucking reagonomics?

    Everyday it seems more and more likely we can't and our politicians are trying to keep it that way...

    "I'm not scared of anyone or anything, Angie. Isn't that the way life should be?" Jack Hawksmoor

    by skyounkin on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 02:37:12 PM PST

  •  Those presidential numbers shocked me (6+ / 0-)

    I knew that we were gaining in Texas.  But Obama keeps it close against every major contender except Huckabee?  2012's looking a lot better than I thought ... the thought of the Repubs having to bleed money away in the Metroplex and Houston is pretty comforting.

    •  They have a lot more money to bleed this time. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      buckhorn okie, PDiddie, txcatlin

      Citizens United is going to make the money game immaterial to Repubs.

      •  Still, when was the last time (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bear83

        the Repubs had to spend ANY money in Texas?  1996, I bet.

        We are all Stranded Wind.

        by Christian Dem in NC on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 02:48:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Remember, 92 & 96 were oddballs (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Odysseus, BlackSheep1

          Perot, a Texan, was a viable 3rd party candidate in 92 and 96. In 92, he was competing against an incumbent Republican president from Texas (Bush I). I think the fact that Clinton almost won Texas in 92 has way more to do with Perot splitting the Republican vote than Clinton being much more of a contender than candidates since.
          And in terms of Repubs spending $ in Texas in 96, Perot was a big factor in that.
          Remember, Obama is the first Democrat to win a majority of the popular vote and win the electoral college since Carter in 1980. Clinton's popular vote total was low-40s both times, due to the 3-way race.

  •  Yes we can (5+ / 0-)

    Tom Delay went to jail

  •  I want Texas to secede... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Libby Shaw, Bush Bites, grsplane, annieli

    and take Perry, Gohmert, etc. out of the national discourse. They are a heavy anchor to our collective hopes, and poison everything they have a heavy, oily hand in.

    May you live in interesting times--Chinese curse

    by oldcrow on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 02:47:16 PM PST

  •  this sounds like Texas has become like Kansas... (6+ / 0-)

    ...with a huge racist element as part of the mix.

    Living in a state like that is just very trying politically.  The problems to getting elected as a Democrat have nothing to do with policies.  It is all about culture; to be a Democrat is to be one of "those people", i.e. "not one of us".

    You can try to run as a republican- and hope to survive the primary by being the nicer guy- and hope the crazies don't target to get rid of you.  But that task isn't as easy as it sounds.  Even here in Kansas, Bill Kassebaum, the son of an extremely popular republican senator we had fifteen years ago, was yanked out of the legislature by his fellow republicans for, gasp, voting for a tax increase to fund public schools.

  •  I have long suspected (9+ / 0-)

    That the Right are well aware of changing demographics, and that they will ultimately take this country much more towards social democracy.

    That is ... We will win the culture war.

    The attempts by the Right to get Constitutional Amendments in State after State, that seek to protect their most idealogical points ... guns, abortion etc .. are forming the plank of their rearguard action.

    The louder and more violent the rhetoric, the more scared they are of becoming irrelevant.

    Keep pushing back guys ... we can do this.

    We do not forgive our candidates their humanity, therefore we compel them to appear inhuman

    by twigg on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 02:52:55 PM PST

  •  When I see that Palin beats Obama in Texas, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bush Bites, grsplane, ZedMont

    it inspires a good solution for our political troubles there: let them secede.

  •  Teabaggers and Republicans hate Mexicans (5+ / 0-)

    And they are passing a photo ID bill to help keep them from voting.

    Really, the nonwhite population and the unemployed population is ripe for a voter registration drive akin to the kind attempted in the civil rights days.  

    It would take some doing, but we could build a much stronger base here in the next 5 to 10 years.

    Right now, Republicans just want to make sure it is difficult as possible to vote.

    Mrick

  •  A Hispanic strategy is required (5+ / 0-)

    To win in Texas, Democratic candidates must appear on local Spanish-language radio programs, be a guest on the national show, Sabado Gigante, and ensure that Hispanic voters in the largest cities are given rides to polling places in vans.

  •  Ah am ready! (6+ / 0-)

    Photobucket

    http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/206488-1 at 1:31:20

    by TexMex on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 03:17:22 PM PST

  •  Well, the Packers are going to Texas - they won. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli, JW in Dallas

    woot

    " It's shocking what Republicans will do to avoid being the 2012 presidential nominee."

    by jwinIL14 on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 03:20:44 PM PST

  •  If Henry in Oklahoma is your "what if"... (5+ / 0-)

    ...the Texas story would have had the same ending.

    After continuing to perform fairly well at the state level during the decade of this century, Democrats here in the Sooner State now seem to have as hopeless a future in state races as they've had in federal elections since at least the mid-1990s.

    The story of both Texas and Oklahoma is the long, endgame of Democratic politics in the (white) South that began in the mid-'60s.

    In Texas, Dems at least have demographics on their side in the medium-to-long run.

    Oklahoma will just keep getting redder and redder.

  •  This story is a stretch (0+ / 0-)

    I don't want to bust anyone's bubble but this story is so full of holes it can only be defined as a "stretch".

    Obama ain't gonna even come close in Texas.  And, even though this story says that Romney is the most electable republican (and that is part of the stretch), if Huckabee runs he's going to garner the nomination and Obama will get another of his shellackings there.

    But, that's just IMO.

  •  The economy (0+ / 0-)

    is catching up with Rick Perry:

    The only thing that let Gov. Rick Perry get away, temporarily, with claims of a surplus was the fact that Texas enacts budgets only once every two years, and the last budget was put in place before the depth of the economic downturn was clear. Now the next budget must be passed — and Texas may have a $25 billion hole to fill. Now what?

  •  It will take years (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    texasmom, Bush Bites

    and lots of hard work.

    Cold hearted orb/That rules the night/Removes the colours From our sight/Red is gray and/Yellow white/But we decide/Which is right/And/Which is an Illusion

    by KingofSpades on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 03:42:51 PM PST

  •  I used to be an optimist (0+ / 0-)

    At some point the demographics will eventually make Texas blue.  Unfortunately, I think it will be at least 15-20 years before that happens.

    Whites in suburban and rural Texas are an ignorant, paranoid and atavistic bunch that clings to their guns and fundamentalist fantasies.

    I have lived here now over 12 years (since December 1998) travelling through much of the state.  I have concluded that most white Texans are deluded beyond hope.

    •  Seems racist to me (0+ / 0-)

      If what you just posted was about any other race, it would be jumped on for being just blatently racist.

      Whites, somehow, are never on the receiving end of racist remarks in America.

      •  Oh, Lord (0+ / 0-)

        Also, you might want to learn to spell before you criticize a post about ignorant people.

        PS-I'm white and I live in Texas.

        "...and most of [long and medium-term debt and deficit] has to do with entitlements, particularly Social Security and Medicaid." Barack Obama 12/10

        by demoKatz on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 05:09:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Worth noting... (0+ / 0-)

      ...I mean, look at Republicans and the North East. They've largely -not completely, but largely given up. And Palin's comments about the Bushes being "Connecticut Blue Bloods" illuminates the reason a lot.  

      Simply put, the Republican Party just can't get the traction they need in the NE (and barely on the West Coast) and have decided to play to their strengths in the south and Midwest. The candidates who can win in these states cause too many headaches (the honeymoons with Scott Brown and Chris Christie? OVER.)

      So while they like winning in those states, they're not going to flip out over it ever again. They've decided they don't need the NE or CA and they're not going to break their necks trying to get it.

      The Republican Party is Michael Douglas. The Tea Party is Glenn Close

      by Jank2112 on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 05:15:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I still believe Kay Bailey Hutchison will run for (0+ / 0-)

    POTUS as the anti-Palin

    Präsidentenelf-maßschach;Warning-Some Snark Above;Cascadia Lives

    by annieli on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 03:53:26 PM PST

  •  Texas whites are done voting for Democrats (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PDiddie

    above about 25%. I'd say it's going to take 10-15 years to even be competitive again.

    Ok, so I read the polls.

    by andgarden on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 05:03:38 PM PST

  •  Castro (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    txcatlin, loblolly

    Interesting diary - and I agree with so much of it....but one thing to mention.  Keep an eye on Castro from San Antonio he is a BRIGHT star.  Very Obama-like in his broad appeal -  except hispanic.  Charismatic, brilliant, upstanding community member etc, succeeded against long odds, Harvard Law Grad, heartwarming back-story, very popular in his own city and beyond...   He has already been invited to the White House to particpate in an advisory manner on the Jobs and Economic Growth Forum.....they did not invite him out of the blue - they have their eye on him!  In Texas a brilliant Hispanic candidate in the near future as the Hispanic population grows.........now that could be something!  True we have had Noriega and Cisneros but the timing is different now and truly you have to hear and see this guy - he is the real deal!

    A couple of quotes from The New York Times article by Zev Chafetz in May, 2010:

    A lot of very smart people, not all of them in Texas, see Julián Castro as the favorite to fill the leadership void. "Julián really stands out," says Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda, an associate professor of Chicano and global studies at U.C.L.A. "There are other talented young Hispanic politicians around, but few have his stature or national potential. He’s from San Antonio, but he’s very much admired in California. He’s like Obama — one of us, but someone who also comes out of a broader American experience."

    Castro "has all the assets to become the next favorite son," is how John A. Garcia, a political-science professor at the University of Arizona, puts it. "He has an elite education, which has given him a national network, and a quiet, serious public persona that appeals to a lot of younger Hispanic voters," Garcia says. "People look at him and say, ‘Finally, we have somebody who won’t screw up.’ Of course, he’s still young, and he might be too good to be true, but if I were betting on the next national Hispanic political leader, I’d bet on Julián."

    Right now he polls lower because he is really an unknown to much of the State.  But with support and advertising he could change that more than the other Dem candidates.  Castro like Obama appeals to a cross section of voters but he could bring along the MOST important demographic in Texas - the Hispanic vote.  However, this may be too early for him - by 2012 we (Texas) may not quite be at that crossover point yet and the powers that be may not run him for a major office that early.  They may wait until a later election when the Hispanic vote is larger and more importantly more organized.  

    Personally I would be thrilled - it does get tiring living in this state with a Progressive viewpoint.  As many have pointed out already the rural part of the state (and you don't have to stray far from the cities - I am 15 miles from Fort Worth) is severely deluded.  They really bite into the Faux meme hook, line and sinker.  Just today I passed a pickup going into town that nearly ran me off the road - looked up and two white males - one middle aged and one younger with a gun rack on the back and the confederate flag bumper sticker also sported a sticker on the window with the flag of Texas and the word SECEDE on it.........they are PROUD of this viewpoint!

  •  Let them secede... (0+ / 0-)

    I don't care a whit for Texas. Let the state secede and call itself Jesusland; I don't give a damn.

  •  Redistricting Time Again (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    txcatlin, Brown Thrasher

    Changing demographics will force the conservatives to come up with new and creative ways to disenfranchise the African-American and Hispanic voters in Texas.  It should be interesting (horrifying) to watch this time around. Republicans redistricting shenanigans in Austin last time ultimately led to DeLay's removal as Speaker of the U.S. House for campaign cash laundering.  He was one of the architects of that garbage.

    I will always love Texas, but are cartoon characters like Louie Gohmert and Rick Perry the best they can come up with? Too little Hank Hill and too much Eric Cartman. Texas could use a little more WWJD? and a little less John Galt.

  •  The main problem (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PDiddie

    is in assuming that Hispanics will become automatic Democratic voters when they do start voting -- Texas Hispanics only went 61-38 for White.

  •  Appreciate the optimism...but in fact (5+ / 0-)
    things are even worse than they appear. I know it was a bad year but White was the strongest statewide candidate the Democrats have fielded in years. Perry got 30-something percent in his previous election. Big, big loss.

    Sharp is not a viable candidate. He thinks he is but he is not.  He peaked as Comptroller but has long since lost his brand. Mauro was extremely weak and would be again. Chet Edwards is very presentable but I don't think any Democrat could get elected.

    The Legislature is going to gerrymander even more districts than they did last time so more Democratic congresspersons are in serious jeopardy.

    The window is not Obama but the huge deficit Texas faces. While Perry has been dying his hair services have been slipping and they are about to take a big hit. They are talking about closing schools, laying off teachers etc. If things get bad enough (hopefully not, for the good people in Texas), some Democrats might slip in.

    Historical footnote: Bullock, unfortunately, enabled the Republicans and let Bush claim "bipartisan" support in the Texas Legislature. At the end, Bullock was the Texas version of Joe Lieberman. Maybe worse.

    "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed." General Buck Turgidson

    by muledriver on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 05:59:39 PM PST

  •  That Palin number should be the 17th 'final nail' (0+ / 0-)

    in her Presidential aspirations' coffin.  Imagine if a Democrat would have barely lead Bush in New York.

    "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

    by Geekesque on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 06:12:27 PM PST

  •  Dems will rebuild we're on the march in Tarrant (0+ / 0-)

    What us Dems are worried about and are relieved is that the TX GOP with tea partiers are going to balance the budget without rainy day funds or tax increases.

    And in order to do that and still have public schools is to close all other state agencies including Universities, state police, and all other state agencies

    This is a real threat to Texas citizens. The crazy tea partiers want to cut public education if the could convenience Texans that it's not in the Constitution.

    Southlake is have learn the constitution session for their citizens.

    With a 6 month legislative session, by March we should know what the rethugs cuts will be.

  •  Don't get ahead of yourself... (0+ / 0-)

    With all the swinging of fries and gnashing of teeth, don't get ahead of yourself on texas. There basically two ways this can go here... 1) The US will decide to give texas BACK to mexico... Believe me, this will NOT be a big loss. OR, 2) with the coming tidal wave of debt that perry and his crooks have amassed and kept hidden from the people of texas, the state could collapse under it's own corruption. When it does, ALL the current politicians will get put in JAIL.

    Democrats can just walk in and take the chairs! This is NOT rocket science.. have a little patience and this will get done without spending a dime...

  •  what if (0+ / 0-)

    Obama had won Tarrant county along with Harris, Dallas, El Paso, Bexar and Travis counties.

    He would not have needed florida, or indiana.

    In 2008 that is what almost happened had david not pulled the operation out.

    Joe apologize Baton puled out a lot of money to defeat us Dems in Tarrant (FT Worth-Arlington Tx area).

  •  Chet Edwards and John Sharp? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PDiddie, Brown Thrasher

    Yuck.

    I live in Texas, and the fact that those two are the ones named as potential candidates is symptomatic of the problems for Democrats in Texas.

    They're still going after the same voters they got back when they were the majority party.  It hasn't dawned on them that they need to be a different party.  Demographic changes mean nothing when the party still acts like they can win by getting the conservative white vote.  

  •  The TDP doesn't run a statewide field program (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, PDiddie, loblolly, David54

    We have some great county organizations that try hard to field good candidates and run effective coordinated campaigns.

    Our state party, in fact, is the ONLY one in the entire country that hasn't really joined the national party. We're the only state with two voter files - one belonging to the TDP, and one run by the DNC, and never the twain shall meet. All other states combine the two, share data, and at least make an attempt to work together, with the state parties getting the benefit of support, training, targeting, and many other resources from the DNC. In Texas? Zip. And the TDP is pretty proud to be the lone holdout.

    It was very painful in 2010, but in 2012, it could be even more devastating. The state party will be disadvantaging every state and local candidate, because the presidential race and any voter contact - and the likely massive volunteer activation that Obama has inspired - is going to be organized and tracked in the DNC's voter file, not the state one.

    •  I should say though, we die-hards are going to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      loblolly

      keep organizing and working on changing our state. We have a steep climb ahead of us though, and it would help if we had support from Democrats in other states instead of calls for secession or giving us back to Mexico.

      Seriously, folks, there are more die-hard Dems in TX than in all but a handful of other states. We have trained and sent hundreds of organizers to swing states, and organized road trips of even more weekend canvassers. We have made hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of phone calls out of state, calling into places where we could make more of a difference on issues and in elections, sacrificing time we might have spent organizing here at home.

      We're all part of the same team. Please try to keep that in mind.

    •  I'm glad you wrote that, and I'm glad I read it. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlackSheep1, laderrick

      I noticed something like that, but I assumed it was the
      "Obama-phobia" that conservative Dems thought they had to debase themselves with in order to win.
      The current state chair lives in my home town. I think it's time the national party starts talking to the state party and we get this problem fixed. Because it's a loser.

  •  The Democrats have wasted a great opportunity in (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VirginiaBlue, Brown Thrasher

    Texas and the rest of the Southwest by not solidifying their tie-in with Latinos.  Latinos will vote Democrat but they have to be courted.  We are not a solid bloc like African-Americans because we are from a different experience and not a homogeneous one.  Democrats need to learn this and quick because they need to get that base of voters that will become a powerful force if our needs are met.

  •  not likely (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PDiddie
    ...in my opinion it's not likely that the Democrats will be able to rebuild in Texas any time soon...and it has nothing to do with all of the things cited in this diary (good diary, by the way). What everyone seems to be forgetting, in Texas and elsewhere, is that we are now operating in a completely new political environment. Those Texas oil companies and all of those other corporations can now give unlimited amounts of money to prop up their Republican puppets, in Texas and anywhere else in the U.S. thanks to five of the most corrupt people to ever be allowed to sit on the Supreme Court (in their notorious Jan. 21, 2010 Citizens United decision).

    It seems very unlikely that all of those oil barrons will ever let the Democrats back into power (in Texas or elsewhere) as long as this corrupt decision is allowed to stand.

    •  You'd think those oil barons would have some (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlackSheep1

      sway over the newspapers and tv stations.
      Virtually every paper in the state, and a number of tv stations, backed White strongly.

      The voter turnout on the Dem side was abysmal. It's impossible to connect Big oil with that fact.

      Big oil is diversifying into wind/solar. BP is building the wind farm in my county.

      One factor you're seeing right now is the peak of the evangelical religious right's power.
      Texas is megachurch heaven. That's unsustainable, though.
      With the right message, the Dems can start winning.

  •  Given the demographic shift and the number of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1

    electoral votes in Texas, the question shouldn't be "Can?" It should be "How?"
    The fate of progressive policies in the rest of the country is impacted by the sheer size and weight of Texas' raw power.
    I know my progressive friends in Oakland Ca have a skewed view of Texas, based on the media reporting of Perry, Gohmert, etc.,so I know the rest of the country does.
    Dems have got to finally figure out that they have to keep the right wing on defensive in perpetuity, or the right wing will have them on defensive, as they have in the past decade.
    That means going after them where they're (arguably) strong.
    I know we've had some trouble with Blue Dogs (Mike Ross) and Prairie Dogs (Conrad) and other bitches who are whores to Wall Street and Big Oil, but we need moderate and center right Dems where there's no alternative. We just have to make sure they're responsible Dems who will work in good faith with progressives.

  •  The opportunity exists (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1

    I don't know who will run, but if the TX Legislator's pass their "voter ID" system, which will disenfranchise many senior hispanics, this should be talked about in TX on a DAILY basis!

    Many GOP / TPer's refused to participate in face to face debates - and the public seemed not to care?

    As Canseco is my legislator, I complain each time he opens his mouth.  But one person's activism will not reach all voter's.  Writing a diary here will do little to reach all those who need to know about his substance, not just his rhetoric - which is pure BS.

    There was student activism regarding the failed DREAM ACT, so there are issues that can motivate students.  As we see school funding cuts, that too may energize the Hispanic vote.

    Sorry to report:  Move-On did a poor job and OFA was terrible.  Just my POV:  many of the organizations were not coordinated for Dems and that ended with a big loss for all Dems.

  •  OTOH (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1

    "In what is believed to be one of the largest number of officeholders to change party affiliation in Texas, Lamar County GOP Chairman John Kruntorad and State Representative Erwin Cain announced today that 9 local elected Democrats have joined the Republican Party.   This announcement follows unprecedented election gains by the GOP in 2008 and 2010 as Northeast Texans increasingly identify with the conservative platform of the Republican Party.

    Those joining the Republican Party include District Attorney Gary Young; Pct. 1 County Commissioner Lawrence Mallone; Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace (JP) Don Denison; Pct. 3 JP Tim Risinger; Pct. 4 JP Ken Ruthart; Pct. 5, Place 1 JP Cindy Ruthart; Pct. 1 Constable Madaline Chance; Pct. 3 Constable Larry Cope; and Pct. 5 Constable Gene Hobbs."

    •  every last one of these turncoats ought to be (0+ / 0-)

      called out every day

      from here on out until

      they get old and die or

      get beaten in the next election.

      Republican Party include District Attorney Gary Young; Pct. 1 County Commissioner Lawrence Mallone; Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace (JP) Don Denison; Pct. 3 JP Tim Risinger; Pct. 4 JP Ken Ruthart; Pct. 5, Place 1 JP Cindy Ruthart; Pct. 1 Constable Madaline Chance; Pct. 3 Constable Larry Cope; and Pct. 5 Constable Gene Hobbs

      These are traitors.

      Republican Party include District Attorney Gary Young; Pct. 1 County Commissioner Lawrence Mallone; Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace (JP) Don Denison; Pct. 3 JP Tim Risinger; Pct. 4 JP Ken Ruthart; Pct. 5, Place 1 JP Cindy Ruthart; Pct. 1 Constable Madaline Chance; Pct. 3 Constable Larry Cope; and Pct. 5 Constable Gene Hobbs

      These are turncoats.

      Republican Party include District Attorney Gary Young; Pct. 1 County Commissioner Lawrence Mallone; Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace (JP) Don Denison; Pct. 3 JP Tim Risinger; Pct. 4 JP Ken Ruthart; Pct. 5, Place 1 JP Cindy Ruthart; Pct. 1 Constable Madaline Chance; Pct. 3 Constable Larry Cope; and Pct. 5 Constable Gene Hobbs

      These are cowards.

      Republican Party include District Attorney Gary Young; Pct. 1 County Commissioner Lawrence Mallone; Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace (JP) Don Denison; Pct. 3 JP Tim Risinger; Pct. 4 JP Ken Ruthart; Pct. 5, Place 1 JP Cindy Ruthart; Pct. 1 Constable Madaline Chance; Pct. 3 Constable Larry Cope; and Pct. 5 Constable Gene Hobbs

      These are not real representatives of Texans.

      LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

      by BlackSheep1 on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 10:18:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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