Rick Perry won’t even entertain the notion that Texas will ever again elect a Democrat in a statewide political contest.
“The biggest pipe dream I have ever heard,” he told the Wall Street Journal this past weekend.
Well, Democrats beg to differ. And they’re launching a new group today determined to make Perry’s “pipe dream” into every Republican’s worst political nightmare.
The new Democratic organization, called “Battleground Texas,” is designed to make Texas a politically competitive state by reaching out to Texas women and mobilizing Latino, African American and other minority voters who make up a majority of the state’s population but not its registered voters.
Battleground Texas is modeled on “voter engagement” projects that helped President Obama carry swing states including Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Nevada and Colorado. Indeed, the new group has hired veterans of Obama’s successful grassroots efforts, including executive director Jenn Brown, Obama’s 2012 field director in Ohio, and digital director Christina Gomez, a digital strategist for the Democratic National Committee last year.
No Democratic presidential candidate has carried Texas since Jimmy Carter won a narrow victory in 1976. Republicans haven’t lost a race for statewide office since 1994, and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney took Texas by a comfortable margin of 16 percentage points last year.
Despite that track record, Democrats are convinced that demographic changes and hard-right positions taken by prominent Texas Republicans can lead to a politically competitive state within six years. But their challenge is considerable: Among the ten states with the largest percentage of Latino voters, only Texas and Arizona voted Republican in 2012.