The midterm elections in Texas are shaping up to be just as interesting as the run to 2016, and the recent indictment of Governor Rick Perry is only serving as fuel for the fire as battle lines are drawn between conservatives and progressives.
The apparent weakness of the charges against Governor Perry has drawn criticism from activists and the mainstream media alike, and is leaving many Texans wondering why Democrats seem to be banking on this indictment as the key to damaging the credibility and reputation of the Republican Party.
The Austin American-Statesman recently debunked a seriously misleading e-mail sent by Mo Elleithee, communications director for the Democratic National Committee, claiming that the real reason Governor Perry chose to veto funding for the ironically-dubbed “Public Integrity Unit” was to stop investigations into an $11 million CPRIT (Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas) grant to Peloton Therapeutics; Peltron has been a big donor to both Perry and current Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, and democrats in Washington smelled blood.
Via the Statesman:
Elleithee’s email charges that the CPRIT investigation “was underway when the governor called for the head of that investigative unit to resign. Perry pushing Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg to resign was a win-win. Lehmberg either resigned and he appointed her successor or he vetoed the PIU’s funding. Both would have the same effect: stopping the investigation into the CPRIT its tracks.”
Elleithee’s email, however, left out some key details about the CPRIT investigation — including that two months before Lehmberg’s arrest, she told reporters that none of Perry’s appointees to the CPRIT board were “under suspicion in the investigation.”
Perry’s veto, at least as far as the CPRIT grant was concerned, was politics as usual, but democrats have made the deliberate decision to ignore facts openly reported in favor of a weak attempt to whip up their small base.
In Texas, the Democrats have just begun to get used to the idea that they need to fight to regain their former dominance in the political scene. From 1874 until 1979, Democrats controlled both the governorship and the lieutenant governorship. It wasn’t until 1995, when George W. Bush was elected Governor, that Republicans gained control of the executive. The stats for the Attorney General’s office look similar; it wasn’t until John Cornyn’s election in 2002 that the AG’s office gained its current conservative reputation.
The problem for Democrats is that, as the demographics currently stand, it’s likely to be a long haul before they have a chance to regain control of the executive or the legislature.
A Gallup poll from earlier this year analyzed the effect of changing demographics and the power of the Hispanic vote against democrats’ chances to regain power, and the results don’t bode well for liberal hopefuls in the next few cycles:
At the same time, the path toward victory for Democrats may not be as smooth or linear as this logic might suggest. Hispanics in Texas are more likely to identify as Republican than are Hispanics elsewhere, and the Republican Party in Texas has seen more growth in Hispanic support over the past five years than the Democratic Party. While this has not changed the overall equation — Democrats still lead big among Texan Hispanics — it does suggest the GOP may be more competitive with this bloc than many assume.
Nor is it clear that Hispanics alone can alter the political trajectory of Texas. While nearly 38% of the Texas population is Hispanic — over double the national rate — political participation among this group is not high. So while Texas is a majority minority state in terms of population, differences in political participation by racial and ethnic group — despite those groups’ political leanings — continue to make Texas a solidly Republican state.
It follows that the biggest challenge for Democrats hoping to turn Texas blue may be in registering and turning out minority voters in that state. But the Democratic Party’s relatively poor standing with white Texans will continue to impede its ability to compete on a statewide basis for the foreseeable future.
If Democratic groups like Battleground Texas were the only ones seeking the favor and votes of Latinos and other minorities, they might have a chance to exact a quick turnaround; but this simply isn’t the case. Both private sector advocacy groups and high-profile Republican political candidates are spending a great deal of time and resources to get out the vote in neighborhoods and communities that conservatives have never paid a great deal of attention to.
At this point in the game, every move by democrats has to be a power play, or else it will be ignored completely. GOTV and base-building isn’t enough; they’re being forced to do whatever they can to turn white voters against not only Perry (who is leaving office in January) but an entire ticket featuring strong conservative candidates. They’re counting on their demonstrated ability to prey upon the emotions of low-information voters, not on any actual evidence showing corruption within Perry’s administration or the Republican Party at large.
So far, that strategy seems to be imploding in slow motion.DONATE
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