It’s presidential debate week in Texas

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Texas is crackling with Democratic energy this week.

The statewide Democratic Party made news Sunday night with the release of its 2020 plan, first reported by The Texas Tribune. Their plan to win the state includes registering 2.6 million potential Democratic voters from communities of color, urban and suburban centers, and conservative rural voters. They are also building a massive statewide coordinated campaign to help over 1,500 Democratic candidates next year. 

“At the Texas Democratic Party, we know that to win we must build a state party infrastructure larger than anyone has ever seen,” said the party’s deputy executive director Cliff Walker. “Change is coming to Texas — a new wave of activists and progressive candidates demand it.”

Then, in the wee-hours of Monday morning, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who is up for re-election this November, dropped a TV ad linking one of his opponents to President Trump. Called “Noise,” the spot showcases Trump berating Mexican immigrants and casts Tony Buzbee, who gave $500,000 to the president, as a loud-mouthed Trump “imitator” and “copycat.”

The week’s main event, however, is still to come on Thursday at Texas Southern University where 10 Democrats, including the top three presidential candidates — Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders — and both Texans, Julian Castro and Beto O’Rourke, will take the debate stage. The match-up can be seen live on ABC News, Univision, the local ABC News affiliate KTRK-TV, and streaming on ABCNews.com. 

What makes the debate all the more interesting is Texas’ relevance this election cycle. As The Signal reported last week, Texas issues are national issues; what’s going on in the state on immigration, gun violence, health care, fracking, and the economy/trade are a microcosm of the country. And demographically and politically, the state — now a battleground —may be poised to usher in more Democrats in 2020. For once in a generation, Texas has Democratic mojo. 

When asked if Democrats should make a real effort in Texas, longtime strategist James Carville told The Atlantic’s Ron Brownstein, “They’d be crazy not to. You have to look at how fast the white vote in Texas is shifting. That’s the story.”

Given Texas’ size, any serious gambit will be expensive. Dallas and Houston are among the top 10 most expensive media markets in the country. Still, Carville says go for it, since money will be coming from a lot of different places for a number of races in 2020. “I think the pressure on the Democrats to play in Texas is going to be enormous,” he said. 

Three of the Democratic presidential candidates have been talking about winning the state next year, should they become the party’s nominee. Castro and O’Rourke both say they will win Texas’ 38 votes should they be the nominee. And Biden said over the summer, “I believe we can win Texas and Florida if you look at the polling data now.”

In four polls out this year, Trump is performing poorly in the state. Every Republican presidential candidate since 1980 has won Texas.

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