National Democrats are taking steps to create a large-scale independent group aimed at turning traditionally conservative Texas into a prime electoral battleground, crafting a new initiative to identify and mobilize progressive voters in the rapidly-changing state, strategists familiar with the plans told POLITICO.
The organization, dubbed “Battleground Texas,” plans to engage the state’s rapidly growing Latino population, as well as African-American voters and other Democratic-leaning constituencies that have been underrepresented at the ballot box in recent cycles. Two sources said the contemplated budget would run into the tens of millions of dollars over several years - a project Democrats hope has enough heft to help turn what has long been an electoral pipe dream into reality.
At the center of the effort is Jeremy Bird, formerly the national field director for President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, who was in Austin last week to confer with local Democrats about the project.
In a statement to POLITICO, Bird said the group would be “a grassroots organization that will make Texas a battleground state by treating it like one.”
“With its diversity and size, Texas should always be a battleground state where local elections are vigorously contested and anyone who wants to be our commander in chief has to compete and show they reflect Texas values. Yet for far too long, the state’s political leaders, both in Austin and in Washington, D.C., have failed to stand for Texans,” said Bird, who recently founded a consulting firm, 270 Strategies. “Over the next several years, Battleground Texas will focus on expanding the electorate by registering more voters – and as importantly, by mobilizing Texans who are already registered voters but who have not been engaged in the Democratic process.”
(Also on POLITICO: Texas GOP touts its Hispanic model)
Said Bird: “Candidates who represent Texans should have to fight hard for the honor – and Battleground Texas will help make sure they do.
One Democrat close to the planning process said the group intended to bring in “top campaign talent to Texas” for a long-term organizing push. Strategists filed papers with the Texas Ethics Commission to create Battleground Texas earlier this month with that goal in mind.
“It’s going to take a sustained effort and we’re going to have to prove ourselves over time,” the Democrat staid. “We need to have the talent in state to build something real over time and make the environment such that you can look someone in the eye and say, ‘You can run statewide and you can win,’ or you can tell a presidential candidate that you should really consider putting resources here.”
Another strategist tied to Texas called the project a “very positive effort to try to put together a pretty broad grassroots organization to try to identify and ultimately mobilize progressive voters.”
“There’s a realistic view that that will take more than one cycle,” the strategist said. “None of this stuff is ever real until you’ve got money.”
Democrats have eyed Texas longingly for years, watching as the Republicans bastion has transformed into a majority-minority state. The 2010 census found that 38 percent of Texans identified themselves as Latino or Hispanic; just under 45 percent were non-Hispanic whites.
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