Tory agenda dominates Texas, despite Democratic hopes to turn the state blue
Yet Trump’s Texas lead was the narrowest for a Republican presidential candidate in years. In 2012, Mitt Romney won the state by 16 points. In 2016, Trump won by 9 points.
And with only a few days left in the session, lawmakers are still trying to push for an electoral overhaul with new voting restrictions and legislation that would ban the teaching of critical race theory, among other issues of the ‘agenda.
The state is changing demographically and is expected to gain two seats in Congress in the upcoming redistribution process, due to the state’s rapid population growth over the past decade. While some Republicans are worried about the party’s future, many of its heads of state see the GOP’s success in Texas in the last round as a mandate to keep moving to the right.
Republicans are also touting the gains Trump has made in the quintessentially Democratic stronghold of South Texas, toppling several counties that voted for Clinton in 2016 and making massive forays into others. Of the 17 counties Clinton won in 2016, Trump took back seven. In Starr County, along the southern border, for example, Trump lost to Clinton by 60 percentage points. But in 2020, he lost to Joe Biden by just 5 percentage points in the same county.
“For every Karen we lost in the suburbs, we won a Julio,” said a GOP agent in the state.
‘I don’t want to be a roadkill’
Lt. Col. Allen West walked across the street of an affluent suburban Dallas neighborhood followed by a crowd of supporters who gathered in a fundraiser to meet the former congressman who is now president of the Texas Republican Party.
He stepped out for an interview – CNN was originally invited to the event but was escorted off the property upon arrival – as dozens of donors surrounded him. He was there to speak to Southlake Families PAC, a group that funded school board candidates who opposed teaching critical race theory in a local election that garnered national attention.
West, who helped lead the GOP’s agenda for the legislative session, fought off critics who believe the legislature is moving too far to the right. He cited the crowds of people moving to Texas from traditionally blue states like California, New York and New Jersey as examples of the party’s political success.
“Texas is a strong, prosperous constitutional conservative Red state,” he said.
As for fears the agenda could push voters off the middle of the road, West used an old political trope.
“Do you know what my father taught me?” he said. “I grew up in Georgia. He said the only thing in the middle of the road is the road, and I don’t want to be the road.”
It’s a sentiment underpinned by Trump’s ever-influential and shameless style. Many of the state’s leaders, who are due for re-election next year, are keenly aware of the power he continues to wield over the party, especially with potential endorsements.
Trump said in a statement he would support the primary race, which Bush is expected to join next week. Even Bush, whose family, critics of the former president, have been regularly criticized by Trump in recent years, has shown his support.
“I like them both very much,” Trump said in a statement Tuesday. “I will be making my endorsement and recommendation to the great people of Texas in the not-too-distant future.”
Trump’s baseless claims that the election was stolen are still relevant across the country and here in Texas. For his part, West attended a “Stop the Steal” rally in Dallas after the election and refuses to admit that Joe Biden got more votes than Trump.
When asked three times about the results of the November election, West responded with the same carefully crafted response: “I believe there have been unconstitutional actions that have led to bad things that have happened in five states in the field. of battle. ”
“ It’s a really strange place to be ”
Democratic State Representative Donna Howard has represented the Austin area in the Texas Legislature since 2006. She has fought fiercely this year against the abortion bill and joined her fellow Democrats on scene Tuesday night to celebrate one of the few victories for his party this year. Running out of time on a bill that would prevent transgender students from playing on sports teams aligned with their gender identity.
“We have just shifted totally to the right,” she said, standing outside her desk under the State Capitol and reflecting on the final months of the legislative session. “It’s been like a steamroller of all these red meat quarters issues and not focused on what we have come here to deal with.
Howard acknowledged that Texas was still a red state, but was among those who expected Democrats to do better here in the 2020 election, especially after performing well in the state in 2018 and Beto O ‘ Rourke almost defeated incumbent GOP senator Ted Cruz.
Like many Democrats, Howard argued that his party suffered in 2020 from complying with social distancing guidelines and failing to do the kind of in-person knockouts and popular politics that can be so effective. They are already focused on trying to regain momentum for the 2022 midterm elections.
“The blue wave is growing,” she said. “But I don’t know when it’s going to happen here.”
This is largely because the primaries are king in Texas. Very few state lawmakers hold competitive general elections, so wooing the grassroots remains the primary goal of most politicians.
“There is no real political incentive for those in State House or the State Senate, who are Republicans, to do anything other than appeal to the grassroots,” said Brendan Steinhauser, a veteran strategist. of the GOP in the state.
“They don’t necessarily have to run a competitive general election campaign, and so until that changes – and we see trends that are going to happen – I think you’ll continue to see this outside of our legislature,” he added.
Steinhauser led the campaign for Michael Wood, an anti-Trump Republican who competed and lost in this month’s special election to replace Republican Ron Wright of Arlington. Wright died of Covid-19 in February and Trump approved his widow, Susan Wright, who qualified for a runoff this summer in the last election.
While many Republicans, like Allen West, believe Trump has steered the party in the right direction, some conservatives, like Steinhauser, fear that as the Texas electorate becomes younger and more diverse, Republicans will have problems.
For Steinhauser, this fear of a blue wave on the road is very real.
“We see that we have had a lot of success in the last round, but we are also a little worried about the long term future of the party, worried about demographic changes,” he said. “It’s a really weird place.”