Why Texas is not turning purple

David Weigel:
Bottles of beer cost $3 at the Hollywood Bar. After dark, bottles of very necessary mosquito repellant are passed around, gratis. It’s a hot night, fifty or so locals have come to talk and meet Republican candidates, and nobody’s got anything kind to say about the immigration detention center down the road. The Mexican border is just a few miles away. The reporters who trekked down to cover the late summer’s child migrant crisis? Long gone. Yet the building goes on.

“They’re actually opening up stuff faster for them than they are for us,” says Jose Pena, who works at a local appraiser’s office.

“Yeah, they put up a school for the immigrant kids like—whoosh—like that,” says Manny Rosales, a Navy veteran who’s still looking for work. “They took an old building, but they rebuilt it and got it up and running in a month. They couldn’t do it fast enough!”

It’s early October, right before the start of early voting in Texas’s elections. Rosales, Pena, and a few dozen other people who’d grudgingly shown up to support Carlos Cascos, a Cameron County judge who’d recently been winning elections as a Republican. The county, which runs along the Mexican border to the Gulf, is nearly 90 percent Hispanic. In the 2012 election, Barack Obama won it by 31 points. But when I ask him what he thinks of the president, Pena sounds like this year’s ever-growing posse of squirming Democratic Senate candidates.

“Obama 2008 or Obama now?” he says with a laugh. “Man, don’t get me started on that.” He switches the subject to Hillary Clinton, whom he’d be happy to support, because she’s always seemed competent. Over plates of brisket and tortillas, Rosales tries to convince Pena that Clinton’s past her prime. They finally reach an accord on the upcoming gubernatorial race between Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott and Democratic State Sen. Wendy Davis.

“All I know about Davis is that she made that stand in the Capitol,” says Pena. He shrugs. “That got my interest, I guess.”

Neither is excited about that Democrat. They’re intrigued by Abbott. At a table nearby, Cascos is showing off photos of the pachanga he held this year, the one where Abbott showed up and stayed late. “Ninety percent of the people there were Democrats,” says Cascos, “but they see themselves as independents, and Abbott reached out to them.”

This was not supposed to happen in Texas—not this year, not to Wendy Davis. Twenty-one months after Obama campaign veterans launched Battleground Texas, on the theory that a majority-minority state could become competitive for Democrats, Davis is running far behind Abbott. A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released this week found Davis trailing Abbott by 16 points. Among Hispanic voters, the race was almost tied: 48 for Davis, 46 for the Republican.
There is much more and it is worth reading in full.

The date line on this piece is San Benito, Texas where I graduated from High School.   One of the problems for the Battle Ground Texas logic is they think all Hispanics are the same.  The fact is that most of the Hispanics in the Lower Rio Grande Valley are not immigrants.  Their families are native Texans.  Most of the illegal immigrants in recent years pass through their area but move on to larger cities inland.  When I attended by 50 year high school reunion, I attended the home coming football game.  Football has always been a big deal in San Benito and when the homecoming court was introduced I noticed something about the students.  While their last names were Hispanic their first or given names were traditional American names.  These people were 100 percent American.  They volunteer to fight for this country.  The immigration reform being pushed by the Democrats does not impact their lives anymore than it does an Anglo in East Texas.

Republicans have a good shot at getting their vote and the are smart enough to asking them for it.


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