News-texasturningblue(will tallent)

Lastmonth, a grassroots organization called “Battleground Texas” was formed inorder to shift the political momentum of the state toward a Democratic vote,just months after Barack Obama lost to Mitt Romney by 16 points in the LoneStar State.

BattlegroundTexas is in the beginning stages of the push attempting to turn Texas into aswing state. Although Texas has not elected a Democrat to statewide officesince 1994, Battleground Texas has recognized the state’s shiftingdemographics—a shift that suggests a more liberal electorate than in recentyears.

JeremyBird, former national field director for President Obama’s reelection campaign,is spearheading the organization. In a statement to Politico, Bird referred to BattlegroundTexas as “a[n] organization that will make Texas a battleground state bytreating it like one.”

Texashas 38 electoral votes (the second largest number next to California’s 55electoral votes) in upcoming presidential elections, making it a sizeable prizefor anyone seeking the presidency.

Accordingto the 2010 U.S. Census, the Hispanic population in Texas is the second largestin the nation, while the African-American population has maintained itsproportion with the overall growth of Texas.

Additionally,the Texas State Data Center projects that by 2020, Hispanics will make up themajority of Texas’ population, while Caucasians will fall to thesecond-most-populous ethnicity.

Accordingto a Gallup poll released before the election, non-whites preferred Obama toRomney by a more than 4-1 margin, making the demographic shift in Texas abeacon of hope for Democrats seeking statewide office.

“Republicansneed to solve this issue, politically, if they wish to win national elections,and they know it,” said Matt Mackowiak, a Texas-based political consultant forthe Republican party, according to the Washington Post.

“Withits diversity and size, Texas should always be a battleground state where localelections are vigorously contested, and anyone who wants to be ourCommander-in-Chief has to compete and show they reflect Texas values. Yet, forfar too long, the state’s political leaders, both in Austin and in Washington,D.C., have failed to stand for Texans,” said Bird, according to Politico.

“Overthe next several years, Battleground Texas will focus on expanding the electorateby registering more voters—and as importantly, by mobilizing Texans who arealready registered voters but who have not been engaged in the democraticprocess,” Bird told Politco. “Candidates who represent Texans should have tofight hard for the honor—and Battleground Texas will help make sure they do.”

BattlegroundTexas notwithstanding, there are many other organizations whose main goal is toraise the voices of Democratic voters across the state. Senator Wendy Davis(D-Ft. Worth) and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who gave the keynote addressat the Democratic National Convention in September, went to Washington D.C. lastmonth to raise funds for the Lone Star Project, a group which is “designed to helpindividuals, organizations and the press see beyond the rhetoric andmisinformation typically provided by the current Republican State Leadership inTexas and Texas Republicans in Washington,” according to its website.

“DoI think we’re going to turn Texas in two years? Probably not,” Annise Parker,Houston’s mayor and a registered Democrat, said to Politico. “Do I think we canturn Texas in four years? Absolutely, because I think the Republican Party inTexas is going to drive itself off a cliff.”

DaveCarney, a Republican who served as a top political strategist for Rick Perry’spresidential run, told the Texas Tribune that “the more money they spend on[Battleground Texas] the better, because it will basically lead to continuedconservative dominance of the state.” Carney added, “It’s their message thathurts [Democrats]. It’s their inability to articulate a message that the vastmajority of Texas voters agree with.”

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