I am, to put it mildly, extremely skeptical of this new effort. And will gladly eat my words in the future if it turns out to be a success. There’s one good sign that I see thus far. It appears that at least the current GOP chair in Texas is taking it seriously. Via Real Clear Politics, Can Democrats Mess With Texas in 2016?
While the knee-jerk reaction among many Republicans would be to dismiss the idea that the state could be competitive in 2016 — just four years after Mitt Romney carried it by 16 points over President Obama — Texas GOP Chairman Steve Munisteri is in no mood to sneer.
In an interview with RCP, Munisteri said that he has long taken seriously the possibility that Texas could become a battleground as early as 2016, particularly if Clinton becomes the Democratic standard-bearer.
“If she’s the nominee, I would say that this is a ‘lean Republican’ state but not a ‘solid Republican’ state,” he said. “I don’t know anyone nationally who’s scoffing at this. The national party leadership is aware and tells me they’re taking it seriously.”
Munisteri said that he has had recent discussions with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus about the need to prepare for a significant change in the political dynamic here, noting that the need will likely become even more pressing in the next decade. That’s when Texas is expected to see its minority population rise more sharply — as it adds as many as four additional electoral votes to make it an even shinier target for Democrats than it already is.
But Texas Republicans, he said, are up to the challenge.
“It’s not like the Democrats get to come in here and fire all the ammunition and no one fires back at them,” Munisteri said. “With everything aligned perfectly, and we don’t do what we’re supposed to do, sure they could win the state. But I anticipate we’ll do what we’re supposed to do.”
Republican officials in Texas note with evident pride the extent to which the state GOP has done far better in recent years with Latinos — who compose more than 38 percent of the population — than have Republicans nationwide.
Texas Democrats’ current lack of a stranglehold on the Hispanic vote is part of the reason many of them downplay the notion that they could make the state competitive on the presidential level anytime soon.
“It’s going to be a really long-term project,” Naomi Aberly, a prominent Dallas-based Democratic fundraiser, told RCP. “Making people understand just how big Texas is and what a long time it will take to turn it is part of the conversation. It’s not going to be overnight.”
Aberly is serving as an unofficial adviser to Battleground Texas — a new organization helmed by national Democrats that is slated to launch formally in the coming days, with the ultimate aim of turning Texas into a swing state.
Politico reported last month that the group intends to spend “tens of millions of dollars over several years” in order to eventually put Texas’ 38 electoral votes — the nation’s second largest haul — within reach of a Democratic candidate and thus change the entire electoral calculus for the foreseeable future.
Jeremy Bird, who was Obama’s national field director in the 2012 re-election campaign and is helming the effort here, is making no claims that the statewide dynamic will change immediately. But he seems open to the possibility that Texas can nudge its way onto the swing-state map in 2016, even if that remains a big reach.
“Battleground Texas is a grassroots organization that will make Texas a battleground state by treating it like one,” he said in a statement. “Over the next several years, Battleground Texas will focus on expanding the electorate by registering more voters — and by mobilizing Texans who are already registered voters but who have not been engaged in the democratic process.”
Voter registration efforts in the state’s heavily Democratic bastions — including urban areas like Austin and the south Texas counties lining the Rio Grande — naturally will be a key component of the group’s effort.
According to Texas Democratic sources who have been in discussions with Battleground Texas officials, the group will also place an especially heavy emphasis on building up local county infrastructures in Republican-leaning areas.
Texas Democrats believe that boosting outreach and reviving long dormant local party infrastructures in places like Odessa and Midland — two medium-size west Texas cities where Republicans have long dominated — will be at least as important to these efforts as running up the vote margins in areas that are already heavily Democratic.
And they are confident that they will be able to make a pitch outside the state that the investment in Texas is worth it.
“If you want to have a progressive era in our country, it would help a lot to have Texas as part of that, so I think high-level donors understand the importance of Texas,” Aberly said. “Certainly, the people I’ve spoken to have understood it and have been very pleased that there’s something to this strategy.”
Although Texas Gov. Rick Perry is sticking to his guns, Texas Will Always Be A Red State.
When you sign up at Battleground Texas it states this:
Change in Texas won’t happen overnight. Turning the state into a battleground that matters both locally and nationally will take a long-term strategy and a sustained push from grassroots activists.
But grassroots voices are already changing this country on a scale that was unheard of just a few years ago – and that kind of organization and local activism can do the same in Texas.
Thank you for joining the movement and for your support.
We all must realize this will be a years long struggle. Be sure to get involved locally, where we can do the most good, and help change Texas for the better.