A Blue Texas? Democrats Think It's Possible

PHOTO: A sign urges Texas Latinos to vote.

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Democrats are launching an ambitious plan in Texas: They want to turn the red state blue, and they're looking to Latinos to make that happen.

According to Politico, the party wants to take advantage of the rapidly changing demographics of the state and mobilize new, more progressive-minded, voters.

Politico reports that a group of Democrats is forming an organization, "Battleground Texas," that plans to put tens of millions of dollars over the next several years into a plan to engage underrepresented voting populations.

"It's going to take a sustained effort and we're going to have to prove ourselves over time," an unnamed Democrat told Politico. "We need to have the talent in state to build something real over time and make the environment such that you can look someone in the eye and say, 'You can run statewide and you can win,' or you can tell a presidential candidate that you should really consider putting resources here."

Enter the Latino community.

On paper, Texas would seem like it's ripe for a Democratic revival. Latinos have accounted for 65 percent of Texas' population growth since 2000. As ABC/Univision reported back in July, there are more than 2.1 million unregistered eligible Latino voters in the state, and another 920,000 eligible to naturalize. Republican presidential candidate John McCain won that state in 2008 by only about 950,000 votes.

Democrats have also developed two Latino elected officials whom many hope could run for state or national office, Julían and Joaquín Castro. Julían, the mayor of San Antonio, has predicted that Texas could become a moderate "purple state" by 2020.

But, as Politico points out, turning the state blue is a difficult proposition, and it's unlikely to happen overnight, or even in the next several years.

"From the deeply skeptical Republican perspective, Democratic hopes for flipping Texas — even over the medium to long term — recall the GOP's short-lived aspirations to compete in California at the height of George W. Bush's popularity," the paper wrote Thursday.

Republicans have a tight grip on political control in Texas, holding all statewide elected offices since 1994 and a vast majority of congressional seats. Democrats, on the other hand, have admittedly done a poor job in the past of registering those unregistered Latino voters and promoting political participation in the community.

Republicans have also done a better job of cultivating Latino candidates to run for statewide office, rather than in just Latino-centric locales. Republican Ted Cruz, a freshman senator from Texas, won widespread support outside of the Latino community. And Republicans such as George P. Bush, who is considering a bid for land commissioner, has done a good job of registering conservative Latinos to vote in the state, Latino Decisions principal Gary Segura told reporters on Wednesday.

If "Battleground Texas" puts serious money behind their plan, and if they do the hard work of going out into the state and actually talking to and convincing Latinos that not only is the Democratic Party the right party for them, but that it's worth the work of casting a ballot for the party, Hispanics are capable of swinging the state.

As Vice President Biden told Latinos at an inaugural celebration on Sunday, "I think you underestimate your power and what you have done for America and what you are about to do."

Stay tuned.

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