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Wendy Davis vs Goliath: TX GOP Openly Fears the Prospects of a Blue State

The state's top GOP hopefuls recently met to discuss the changing political landscape in Texas and how they might keep their iron grip on the state's highest offices. At the heart of their concern is that Texas' traditional non-voting populations are starting to wake up thanks to a resurgent state Democratic Party led by their flagship gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis and the on the ground organizers of Battleground Texas.

The initial reaction to the threat of a blue Texas was simple and confident, "bring it on," said Governor Rick Perry through a spokesperson. He later added, "The University of Texas will change its colors to maroon and white before Texas goes purple, much less blue." Less than one year later, GOP leaders in the state are much more conservative about their prospects.

In 2010, Bill White may have lost by 630,000 votes, but that number isn't insurmountable when you consider Texas has over 13.6 million registered voters. The League of Women Voters also reminds us that, "Texas consistently ranks last in U.S. voter turnout." If you throw in the fact that 65 percent of Texas is now made up of "unmarried women, 18-29 year olds, and all people of color," who typically vote Democrat, you can understand why the numbers are keeping Republicans up at night.

Texas' leading GOP gubernatorial contender and current Attorney General Greg Abbott told the Houston Chronicle, "They've proven to be effective in some other states. They've proven to be well-organized."

That has prompted a slew of new slogans meant to galvanize the Right's base from the antebellum slogan, "Come and Take it," to John Cornyn's "Keep It Red." In the largest counties that Democrats have already taken, they have modified the former as in, "Take Back Harris County."

The Republican's rise to dominance is a well-known tale among Democrats looking to rebound. They started grooming candidates and organizing at the local level over many years. Democrats have learned a few things in that time and as such, Battleground Texas has repeatedly stated their goal is long term. While uber-partisan redistricting may allow Republicans to hold on to the legislative branch of the state and federal offices, Democrats have begun to take local leadership roles in the state's top performing economies and largest population centers. Given that Texas' major media markets are all anchored in blue counties, this could frustrate the GOP's efforts to continue to field high profile electable candidates in the near future.

Dallas County is ground zero for what the GOP in Texas fears. The state's second most populated county was solid red prior to 2004, but by 2010, Democrats won their first post-Reagan majority on the County Commissioners' Court and they still maintain every county-wide seat on the ballot.

The GOP's main obstacle to a successful future in Texas and beyond is its own rhetoric. With the major urban areas becoming more diverse it will be increasingly difficult for the GOP to build a winning coalition. Just juxtapose the Republican's position on marriage equality or immigration with Houston's openly gay mayor or San Antonio's openly Hispanic mayor, or even Dallas County's open gay-Latina Sheriff.

Further complicating matters for the Texas GOP is that the national electoral math becomes exponentially more difficult if the RNC has to make up for Texas somewhere else. The loss of Texas in a Presidential election would also be particularly embarrassing for John Cornyn, the Senate's Majority Whip, as well as Ted Cruz and Rick Perry, who both have Presidential aspirations of their own. Perhaps when the state does finally turn blue, and Republicans are forced to face the reality of a modern Texas, we'll all hear a lot less "Remember the Alamo" and a lot more, "Remember Dallas County."

 

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