Sanders supporters say he'll bring new voters to the polls to help Democrats flip Texas, but some establishment figures are in panic mode.


U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey is about as restrained as Texans come, but in recent days he has unloaded his unvarnished thoughts on the Democratic presidential primary to practically any reporter he could find.

His message? U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ march to the party’s nomination will jeopardize Texas Democrats’ efforts to capture the state House of Representatives and a slew of U.S. House seats across the state.

“Bernie has no coattails,” said Veasey, who has endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden. “It’s going to be Bernie and his cause taking the party down with him.

“People are sufficiently wary as hell, and from this point on, the scrutiny is going to be very, very high on Sanders,” he added. “When I was in church [Sunday] in southeast Fort Worth, people were coming up to me in tears.”

There’s no doubt that Sanders’ strong showing in the first three states of the nominating contest has sparked strong emotions in Texas politics. The candidate barnstormed the state over the weekend, drawing undeniably enthusiastic crowds of thousands and declaring, “We’re gonna win here in Texas, and in November we’re gonna defeat Trump here in Texas."

But Veasey is not alone in his fear.

While Sanders supporters proclaim a growing movement that will bring out new voters needed to flip the state, nearly two dozen Texas Democratic officeholders, candidates, activists and donors interviewed for this story expressed concern — sometimes bordering on despair — that a Sanders Democratic nomination is the difference between being on offense or in retreat in Texas this cycle.