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Dems hope generational shift will turn Texas blue and shut GOP out of White House

By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, January 25, 2013 11:26 EDT
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A man and his son march in an immigrants' rights protest in Dallas, Texas on May 1, 2005. Photo: Stephen C. Webster, creative commons licensed.
 
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The Texas Democratic Party truly believes that an electoral coup in the state, led by Latinos, would deny conservatives access to the White House for a generation or more — potentially forever, a spokesperson told Raw Story this week.

For future presidential contests, the Republican Party’s plans significantly hinge upon keeping Texas the deepest shade of red on the map, but Democrats are feeling confident fresh off their fifth popular vote victory in the last six presidential elections. That’s got Republican leadership looking to polish their images with immigrant communities, a daunting task given their recent history. Members of the Washington-based conservative group The Ripon Society watched that chill creep up House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) spine on Wednesday as he warned that the president intends to “just shove us into the dustbin of history.”

Knowing their opponents’ potential soft spot, the president’s top political strategists appear to be taking the old Sun Tzu idiom to heart — “The best defense is a good offense” — and now a big part of Obama’s campaign infrastructure is being sent to Texas with the express mission of turning the state’s politic on its head.

“What it means for Texas right now is that the nation is aware of the great promise of turning Texas blue,” Tanene Allison, communications director for the Texas Democratic Party, told Raw Story. “We’re the next or last great swing state, and once Texas becomes a swing state and turns blue, it’s almost impossible for a Republican to ever win the White House again. So, this is a fundamental game changer.”

There are two keys to this game changing coup, she explained: Latinos and infrastructure. According to the Pew Research Hispanic Center, the Latino voting bloc “is likely to double in size within a generation.” That bloc made up a full 10 percent of the U.S. electorate in 2012 for the first time ever, and supported Obama by a 3-1 ratio.

Almost nowhere in the nation is that trend more obvious than Texas, state Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa told Raw Story on Election Day. The Census Bureau reported in 2011 that Latinos make up more than 38 percent of the state’s 26 million-plus citizens, and they are the fastest-growing group, meaning it’s just a matter of time before white conservatives become minorities.

“If you take Latinos and you add them with the African-American and Asian-American population, we’re a majority minority state,” Hinojosa said. “We’re the only majority minority state in the union that doesn’t have an elected official that’s a Democrat statewide. The only reason that’s the case is dismal turnout in the Hispanic community for the last several years.”

That’s where Obama’s campaign infrastructure comes in. “Demographics are not destiny, they are opportunity,” Allison said. “What we have is voters in a democracy that is not reflected accurately. Our representation does not match what Texas actually is, so we need to get out the vote so that we have a democracy that matches the demographics of our state.”

Jeremy Bird, national field director of Obama’s re-election campaign, is headed to the state to support that effort, and he’s bringing with him millions of dollars, according to Politico. The result will be an outside organization called “Battleground Texas,” aimed at changing the guard in Texas politics.

“Republican leadership in Texas has been controlled by the tea party for a long time, so they’re to the far, far, far extreme right, which gives more room to create a coalition of people who want to focus on things like education, healthcare and creating jobs, which is the Democratic Party platform,” A!llison said.

“It’s just a question of creating the infrastructure throughout the state to get out the vote, and that’s what’s so great that so many people are coming in and so much resources are in Texas now, so we can start building this infrastructure,” she added. “I think in 2014 we’re going to be considered a swing state to some degree, and by 2016 we’re going to be considered fully in play. [Candidates] in the presidential race in 2016 are going to have to compete for Texas by that point.”
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Photo: Stephen C. Webster, creative commons licensed.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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