Matt Mackowiak, 5/28/2013 [Archive]

Dream on Liberals - Texas to Remain Red for a Long Time

Dream on, Liberals - Texas to Remain Red for a Long Time

By Matt Mackowiak

When it rains, it pours.

Spare me the well-timed media/left-wing celebration over the creation of Battleground Texas.

At its core, the organization was created to employ out-of-state Obama political operatives, in a slow campaign period, by selling to wealthy donors the dream of winning Texas and upending the electoral map.

Clever construct. But history is a useful guide.

The last time a Democrat won a statewide office in Texas was 1994. Since then, their record is 0-100.

In 2012, a moderate northeastern former governor, Mitt Romney, won Texas by 1.25 million votes, a nearly 16 percent margin. President Barack Obama won just 27 of 254 Texas counties, including the highly urban counties of Harris (by about 600 votes), Dallas, Bexar, Travis and El Paso and most of South Texas.

The political future of Texas will, however, be decided by the growing suburban counties like Denton, Collin, Fort Bend, Hays and Williamson counties, all of which Romney won.

It's been reported that Battleground Texas appears to have won over deep-pocketed trial lawyer and reliable Texas Democratic donor Steve Mostyn and wife, Amber, as well as Dallas fundraiser Naomi Aberly. I suspect they will succeed in raising some national money as well.

In the last few months, Battleground Texas has heralded volunteer sign-ups and organizational meetings.

But, if they are honest with themselves, storm clouds lurk.

First, we are approximately six months from the expected filing deadline for the 2014 election. Battleground Texas and its supplicant, the moribund Texas Democratic Party, have failed to recruit even one first-tier candidate for statewide office. A serious effort would yield candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller, agriculture commissioner, land commissioner and U.S. Senate.

The Democratic bench is appallingly weak. Among potentially strong candidates, San Antonio Mayor Julieˇn Castro has passed, as has state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth. Former Houston Mayor Bill White has been fairly quiet, but he lost to Republican Gov. Rick Perry in 2010 by more than 600,000 votes (13 percent).

Political chatter for governor has been about state Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio. Texas has 150 state representatives and Villarreal likely has less than 3 percent name identification statewide. This is not a good start.

Put simply, Battleground Texas is a vehicle to advance the political career of Julian Castro. The Obama campaign plucked him out of national oblivion by giving him the coveted keynote speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. He is now a national figure and has a national fundraising base that would have been unthinkable one year ago.

Realistically speaking, Battleground Texas, even if it increases Hispanic voter registration and turnout by 5 percent, will do little to change Texas politically in the near term. The state House will remain firmly in Republican hands, with at least 90 members. Not one Republican state senator is vulnerable. At present, not one statewide office is likely to become Democratic in 2014.

This reality makes it all the more unlikely that Texas will be competitive in 2016 in the presidential election, even if Hillary Clinton is the nominee.

The Democratic nominee would have to commit at least $25 million to run a serious presidential campaign here, and given the likely political failure of Democrats in 2014, this will not happen.

More fundamentally, Battleground Texas faces another challenge.

The model for the successful Democratic statewide candidate is to be moderate, pro-business, from a large media market and possess either an ability to partially self-finance or raise funds nationally. There is a very short supply of these individuals on the Democratic side.

Obama operatives and liberal donors will want to advance a left-wing agenda that a majority does not support in Texas. This will create tension and frustration.

Republicans realize that the changing demographics of Texas are a challenge unless we can begin to win over Hispanic voters more effectively. But Texas Republicans have been more successful in this endeavor than Republicans in almost any other state.

I know that Republican Party of Texas Chairman Steve Munisteri, who has done a spectacular job turning around the party, is paying close attention and working harder than ever.

But Battleground Texas is intended to till the ground until 2018, so it may aid Mayor Castro's run for governor and Rep. Joaquin Castro's run for U.S. Senate, five long years away from now.

Can it survive two disappointing cycles between now and then? Time will tell.

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©Copyright 2013 Matt Mackowiak, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Matt Mackowiak is a Washington- and Austin-based Republican consultant and president of Potomac Strategy Group, LLC. Matt can be reached at matt@potomacstrategygroup.com.

This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.



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