Friday, June 27, 2008

Obama in Texas: Downballot is the Key

Now do Obama’s people think that he can carry Texas in November? Maybe not. The Texas Lyceum poll that showed Rick Noriega and John Cornyn were in a statistical tie also showed that Obama trails McCain in Texas by 5%.

Still, 5% is not bad and maybe surmountable. But that notwithstanding, revealed in this Rick Casey piece in The Chron is the fact that Obama is in Texas not for the ATM machine that has been our fate in the past – as many short-sighted national candidates have treated it. Obama appears to be in Texas with a long-term outlook.

Obama chief strategist David Axelrod met with 250 Obama benefactors, Texans, earlier this month and revealed that not only will Texas will receive 15 paid Obama staffers in the coming election, but also that their focus will be in emphasizing the downballot candidates. Specifically, the Texas House.

With only 5 more Democrats needed to regain the majority in the state house, and 2 election cycles to attain it, Obama’s people are thinking ahead to the 2010 congressional redistricting which is controlled by whichever party has the House majority.

Quoting Harris County Democratic Party Chair, Gerry Birnberg, who was at the meeting:

“He said they were acutely aware that 2010 will be a redistricting year and that Texas presents some real opportunities.”
The opportunities being to regain the state house, for one, adding up to 6 congressional districts as a result of population shifts for another, and then redrawing district lines to favor Democratic population distributions. A very nice confluence of events, I think.

Fantastic news, this is. For one thing we don’t have to go it alone again as we did in ’04 when John Kerry’s campaign virtually ignored this great big red state. For another, for once a national campaign has found itself in sync with local politics because someone was sharp enough to identify the opportunities that present themselves here.

And finally, a national campaign’s voter registration and recruitment effort this time won’t stop at the top of the ballot, but emphasize local races that can change the face of the political landscape in Texas, and by extension, the national one.

I truly pity any true Democrat that wants to sit this election out because their presidential candidate did not get the nomination. This election is, by all accounts, shaping up to be history-making.

After all, who can resist participation in a major shift in political paradigms?

And so here, on what I guess we can call “Unity Day,” maybe a united campaign slogan, based on the possibilities that are being perceived in Texas should be “Yes we will, because we can”.

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