Thanks to record Latino turnout in the 2012 elections, the Texas Democratic Party succeeded Tuesday night in breaking the Republican supermajority that’s run the state since 2010.
That’s no surprise to Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa (pictured left), who told Raw Story in an exclusive interview that Republicans are “digging their own graves” with Latinos in Texas, threatening to turn the longtime conservative stronghold into the ultimate swing state. If Texas Democrats can continue success with the state’s Latino voters, he said, it could even give the party a massive built-in advantage in future presidential contests.
“If you take Latinos and you add them with the African-American and Asian-American population, we’re a majority minority state,” he said, speaking to Raw Story on election night in Austin. “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.”
Hinojosa explained that if Hispanic voters in Texas increase their turnout by just 15 percent, the true silent majority in Texas will awaken, turning the state “blue, or at least purple.” Considering that Latino voter registration is up 26 percent nationally in just the last four years, and an estimated 75 percent of them voted Democratic in 2012, his vision for a radically altered political landscape in Texas no longer seems like an impossibility.
“The problem we’ve had, when you talk about the perception about Texas, is that it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Hinojosa went on. “The party comes into Texas and pulls every cent of Democratic money from the state to run campaigns in Virginia, Massachusetts and Nevada. It’s very difficult for us to do what we need to do to develop the infrastructure to get our base out. We’re hoping that… we can get the national party to focus on Texas and put some resources into Texas and help us develop the strategies to increase turnout in our base. That’s what it comes down to.”
Hinojosa is on record saying that if Texas went blue, the paths to victory for Republican presidential candidates become slim to none. Gaining Texas, the second largest bloc of electoral votes in the nation, would diminish the importance of candidates winning swing states like Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Virginia and even Pennsylvania.
“[Latinos are] the game changers,” Hinojosa said. “If we get an increase in turnout in the Latino vote, Texas turns blue. It’s as simple as that.”
“In Texas it’s gotten to extreme levels, to the point where they’re turning a blind eye to outright racism in segments of their party,” the chairman continued. “This election has seen white hoods come out all over the state of Texas, in a really ugly manner… They’ve just decided to pretend that it doesn’t exist, when everybody knows that it does. It’s just horrible.”
“They’ve basically made a conscious decision they want government in this state to do basically nothing for the people except keep the prisons open and fund the judicial system that puts people into prison,” he said. “That’s it. That’s all they really care about.”
With the major metropolitan areas of Texas turning increasingly blue in recent years — including Houston, which Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney lost by just two votes according to Wednesday morning’s final tally — Hinojosa said that the trends favoring Democrats are only set to grow in President Obama’s second term.
“If he makes [the DREAM Act] a priority — it’s going to have to get past the House, obviously — he can make the Republicans further alienate Hispanics in this country,” he concluded. “They don’t have anywhere to go. They are digging their own graves in Texas today.”
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