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Texas: Who’s Running, Who’s Not

Candidate filing ended on Monday. The list of Republican candidates is here. The list of Democratic candidates is here. Not a lot of shockers on either of these lists. Rep. Steve Stockman decided to make a last minute jump into the U.S. Senate primary against John Cornyn (Source), and Republican judge Larry Meyers switched parties to run for Texas Supreme Court - also last minute (Source).

All the action will be on the Republican side; the Lt. Governor’s race in particular. Despite discussion that some Democratic legislators might join Wendy Davis and make the jump for statewide office, only one did: Sen. Leticia Van de Putte. The rest of the list is pretty unimpressive.

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It’s Official: Van de Putte in for LtGov Race

Following leaks earlier this month, State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) is officially running for Lt. Governor (Source). Van de Putte currently serves as the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and is a centrist Democrat according to Prof. Mark Jones of Rice University (see 2012 rankings here). As such, the thought is that it will be more difficult to paint her as a liberal Democrat (compared to her running mate at the top of the ticket - Wendy Davis). Indeed, in her announcement, Van de Putte said, “I’ll keep taxes low, and I’ll make sure we don’t waste a dime, because our families don’t have a dime to waste” - a line you would generally hear from a Republican candidate. Of course, people also considered Bill White to be a moderate Democrat; however, he was successfully painted as “Liberal Bill White" in the 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

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Interesting TX 2014 Developments

Sources are saying State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) will announce she’s running for Lt. Governor (Source). The announcement won’t come until November 23rd the sources said, but if/when she does announce, she’ll join Wendy Davis on the statewide ticket. However, unlike Davis, Van de Putte can run without worry of losing her Senate seat (she’s not up for re-election until 2016). It’ll be interesting to see what her impact is; she’d certainly be the best Democratic candidate since John Sharp in 2002.

Historical note: Republicans have held the Lt. Governor’s office since 1998. The last Democratic Lt. Governor was Bob Bullock. Some good stories about him here.

Photoset

Last night, I finished reading Rotten Boroughs, Political Thickets and Legislative Donnybrooks edited by Gary Keith. It’s a good overview of Texas’ redistricting history from several different perspectives (legislator, attorney, data analysis, etc). Beginning with the challenges to multimember districts and covering the more recent redistricting issues, you can understand the steady decline of the Anglo Democrat discussed by Gromer Jeffers yesterday (and oft discussed elsewhere, such as here).

And if you read this, you should read Steve Bickerstaff’s Lines in the Sand, which is an in-depth look at the 2003 redistricting process.

(Source for AP photo)

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Funding A Democratic Rebound Down South?

There’s some interesting recent news coming out of Mississippi: former governor Ronnie Musgrove (2000-2004) is forming a new PAC to help revive Southern Democrats. (Sources: CNN, Washington Post). The PAC - Southern Progress Fund - will focus on supporting state and local Democratic campaigns, as well as focus on voter registration efforts. This will be an interesting effort to watch, especially to see how much they can raise for their efforts since they’ll be competing for dollars with Battleground Texas. Will there be a significant commitment to help down ballot Southern Democrats? The first step will be keeping money from flowing out of state (see Texas, where Democratic money has typically gone out of state).

Related:

The Continued Decline of the Blue Dogs

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squashed:

Do you think Wendy Davis is so unlikely to run?… But is it so improbable that she’d run, get an exciting Democrat on the ticket, and tip a bunch of smaller races to the Democrats?

I think it is unlikely, though not improbable, that she’ll run for governor.  The point you raise about her potentially exciting Texas Democrats is an argument being made by some local Democrats. However, I think the odds are she’ll run for re-election - just looking at the numbers in a potential 2014 gubernatorial race. Granted her district race is in an off-year election, but it’s certainly a swing district she can win, as opposed to the state as whole, which is safely Republican. 

On the other hand, if she loses her district race, she’s pretty much done as a candidate, which wouldn’t necessarily be the case if she runs statewide.

It’s my (amateur and distant) understanding that the Democrats in Texas might be under-performing at the polls primarily by virtue of not having something like a high-profile candidate vigorously contesting the race for governor.

Most candidates haven’t been great, but Bill White was a high profile candidate in 2010. I’d say he also campaigned pretty vigorously. And yet, he was unable to defeat Rick Perry. The state’s politics haven’t changed tremendously in 4 years, and the demographic shift everyone talks about won’t translate into an electoral shift by next year.

I could be wrong about this; wouldn’t be the first time and definitely not the last.

(Source: zachvaughn)

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Wendy Davis Narrows Campaign Options

Austin American-Statesman:

In other words, she’ll be running for re-election in Senate District 10.

Related:

Public Policy Polling on possible Davis gubernatorial bid

Texas Tribune's Ross Ramsey on Davis' odds

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Wendy Davis’ Odds

Everyone has been talking about Wendy Davis since last month’s filibuster. She’s gotten national attention, raised $1 million, and made the Texas Monthly cover (with the Castro brothers). All of this has Democrats clamouring for her  to make a gubernatorial run. So, what are her odds of succeeding in a statewide race? My former boss has a good piece on those odds. Basically, a gubernatorial run is a definite long shot; a lt. governor run has better odds. However, she may need that $1 million for her Senate re-election bid which isn’t going to be a cakewalk.

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Predicting Texas’ Future

Julián and Joaquín Castro were on Face the Nation discussing the future of Texas and how it will eventually turn blue (Source). With the Hispanic population growing, nearly every commentator and observer expects Texas to turn blue eventually, since Hispanics tend to vote Democratic.1

However, for this to happen Texas Democrats must increase Hispanic voter turnout, which has been poor, and the Castros, as well as other Democratic officials, concede that point. They’re ready to do the work; the issue is whether or not they will have the money. Texas Democrats contribute most of their money out of state, and the state party and other Democratic organizations have been weakened by that outflow (Sources: Amarillo Globe-News, KUT, Texas Tribune).

Related article: With Obama fundraising, Latinos demonstrate growing clout


1. I think this assumption is partially true, but expecting Hispanics to remain solidly Democratic as they become the majority population doesn’t match historical political trends; this assumes 2 things: 1) Republicans adjust their message on issues like immigration, and 2) they make a serious effort to appeal to Hispanic voters.

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Republicans & The South

Since Tuesday, I’ve seen several comments about Romney winning the South. If you’re interested in the history of the demographic evolution leading to the South becoming Republican, I would recommend the following:

Southern Politics in State & Nation

The Rise of Southern Republicans

The Myth of the Southern Strategy

The Immutability of Categories and the Reshaping of Southern Politics

Economic Development, Legal Desegregation, & Partisan Change in the Postwar South

By no means is this list meant to be exhaustive, but there is a lot of good information in each that examines the statistics of demographic change in the South that lead to the region becoming Republican when it had so long been a Democratic stronghold.

The current demographic change in the U.S. is fascinating, and as we witness it, it helps to understand how demographic change affected the politics of different regions of the United States.