At a morning panel today at the Texas Tribune Festival, a group of veteran GOP operatives were tasked with making sense out of the blue wave that swept Texas in 2018, and what they need to do to avoid a repeat.
Much of the discussion, moderated by the Tribune’s Patrick Svitek, attempted to unpack the electoral drubbing that Texas Republicans faced in 2018. The panelists, Jeff Roe, Susan Lilly, Wadi Gaitan, and Brendan Steinhauser, all offered their vision for leading the GOP back from the brink of disaster following the party losing 12 seats in the House in 2018.
Susan Lilly made perhaps the boldest splash in the panel, outright admitting that many of the Republican members of Congress who lost seats in 2018 had grown complacent and neglected to effectively campaign.
While Roe stopped short of declaring Texas well on its way to being a blue state, he did concede that it’s certainly on its way to being purple. Roe managed Senator Ted Cruz’s unsuccessful 2016 Presidential race and then served as a senior adviser to his near loss to former Representative Beto O’Rourke.
When asked how the party can stop the slide, the strategists seemed to be grasping at mathematical straws. They focused on the need to register new voters, an uphill climb in a state where population growth is trending more progressive.
As the population of Texas continues to diversify and grow younger, many in the state have accepted what is plainly true to their eyes: Texas Republicans have a low ceiling, and the Democrats see nothing but blue skies ahead.