December 4, 2013

Changing political landscape: Red fears of a blue tide in Texas

Inroads by Democrats have Republican strategists scrambling with fundraising, rallies and ads.

By Paul J. Weber
The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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George P. Bush, who has a lineage to two former presidents, is seen in Austin, Texas, on Nov. 19 after filing to run for Texas land commissioner. Meanwhile, Texas Republicans are moving to counter the work of Battleground Texas, a political action committee led by veterans of President Obama’s campaign.

Photos by The Associated Press

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Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, addresses supporters at a rally in Haltom City, Texas, where the rising Democratic star declared her candidacy for governor in early October.

It wasn’t a packed house – and the rank-and-file who came weren’t the younger and Hispanic voters that Republicans need. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, who said he thinks Davis’ filibuster riled up Democrats enough to cost Republicans seats as soon as next November, reminded the audience that the party’s average age of delegates is 58.

Lauren Martinez, 26, noticed with disappointment that there weren’t many others her age around. She said she’s been surprised to see friends lining up behind Davis.

“As a young person, I see a lot of my friends supporting her,” Martinez said. “People that I would have thought were more conservative.”

Davis, a two-term state senator, is still regarded as a long shot despite a national celebrity propelled by her nearly 13-hour filibuster over abortion restrictions in the Texas Capitol this summer. Battleground Texas is out to give her a fighting chance.

Launched in February, the organization has since made nearly two-dozen hires and expects to eventually have a staff of 100, executive director Jenn Brown said. She said Battleground Texas has signed an additional 10,000 volunteers.

But Democrats need money as much as bodies, and Battleground Texas’ prowess as a fundraising arm remains to be seen. It raised $1 million in its first month, the same amount that Abbott reported receiving in both July and August.

Brown, who wouldn’t reveal the current balance of donation, said Republicans have taken Texas for granted. She said roughly 8 of 10 donors in its first month were in-state but acknowledged party interest beyond Texas borders.

“Obviously, there is national excitement from Democrats about being more competitive in Texas,” Brown said.

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