At a panel for the 2019 Texas Tribune Festival, Texas Democrats Executive Director Manny Garcia said Democratic voters have turned Texas into a battleground state despite voter suppression efforts by Republicans.
Debating with Steve Munisteri, a senior adviser to Sen. John Cornyn’s 2020 campaign, Garcia said that the idea that Democrats could have taken the Texas House at any point in the past decade wasn’t true.
“That’s not what multiple federal district judges said when we experiencing this very sophisticated racial gerrymandering,” Garcia said. “… What’s amazing now, is that at this point in history Texas has changed so much that we’re talking about Texas Democrats contesting the House, despite gerrymandering, despite everything.”
The panel also featured Royce Brooks, executive director of Annie’s List, an organization that trains and recruits women to run for office. Brooks pointed out that Republicans have funded around $10 million in new voter registration efforts.
“I find it interesting given that, again, for quite some time Republicans have been leading the way in trying to keep the voter pool as small as possible with any number of redistricting policies around voting and voters,” Brooks said.
Brooks also said Democrats have a chance to elect the first woman Speaker of the Texas House when they flip Texas.
Beto O’Rourke’s 2018 senate campaign — he lost to Ted Cruz by 2.6 points — was a reference point on the morning’s political panels. A prominent Republican strategist, Jeff Roe, admitted O’Rourke’s campaign wasn’t an isolated, unique event but rather likely a “lasting” political trend — not an anomaly. In other words, the undergirding political structure of Texas is changing.
Another GOP operative, Brendan Steinhauser, says his party is taking the threat seriously in the state, which now, he said, has gone purple.
That the Republican operation is imploding, said Garcia, because of the Dennis Bonnen-Michael Quinn Sullivan scandal doesn’t help the conservative agenda.
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at email@example.com