Generally speaking, things are never as good or as bad as they seem. I posted on this after the election about how Democrats can win again in Texas and Williamson County, It won’t just happen – The Democratic demographic myth in Texas. That all came to mind again when I read this AAS article today, Despite shifting demographics, Democrats still struggling in Williamson County.
Williamson County, with 422,679 residents in 2010, has grown more diverse. The Hispanic population alone jumped from 17 percent of the county’s residents in 2000 to nearly 24 percent in 2010 — but county Democratic Chairwoman Karen Carter said her party has failed to turn out the voters they need.
Democrats had a recent taste of victory in Williamson County in 2008, when Diana Maldonado won a state House seat centered on Round Rock. She lost two years later to Republican Larry Gonzalez. That same year, County Commissioner Lisa Birkman, a Republican who serves a precinct that includes Round Rock, beat Democrat Mike Grimes by just 321 votes.
This year, Democrats pinned their hopes and resources on a new state House district centered on Cedar Park, but Republican Tony Dale — a former Cedar Park city council member — took the seat with 53 percent of the vote. Democrat Matt Stillwell took 41 percent and Libertarian Matthew Whittington had 6 percent.
Dale’s margin of victory was the smallest of any race between a Republican and Democrat in the county. Republican Jana Duty won a countywide race for district attorney against Democrat Ken Crain with 59 percent of the vote.
Despite the loss, Carter said Democrats aren’t giving up: “We absolutely think everything in the future is working toward us.”
Carter said she sees three groups that could help turn the county purple: Progressive voters moving from Austin and from outside of Texas, young people now old enough to vote, and Republicans who were once Democrats and might now consider “returning to their roots.”
“We’re not going away. We’re continuing to grow,” Carter said.
Brian Hamon, a local Democratic activist and former county Democratic Party chair, sees things differently.
“The fact of the matter is we haven’t got a chance,” Hamon said, pointing to the low turnout by likely Democratic voters.
Democrats can win in Williamson County but it’s going to take time, lots of money, and a sustained effort even when it seems like it’s hopeless.
We must fight for the impossible.
“It’s OK if it’s impossible; it’s OK! Now I’m going to speak to you as organizers. Listen carefully. The object is not to win. That’s not the objective. The object is to do the right and good thing. If you decide not to do anything, because it’s too hard or too impossible, then nothing will be done, and when you’re on your death bed, you’re gonna say, “I wish I had done something. But if you go and do the right thing NOW, and you do it long enough “good things will happen—something’s gonna happen.”
- Former farmworker and labor organizer Baldemar Velasquez (As quoted by Bill Moyers – “Welcome to the Plutocracy“).