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How To UnFuck Texas
Since we spend so much time talking about the things that are wrong, let's spend a moment to talk about what's right.
UnFuck or #UnFuckTexas is the tagline of a new grassroots group I want to tell you about, but first, we need to talk about why Texas is fucked and the different layers of the big picture.
At the last SDEC meeting, Hinojosa laid out his 2024 plan and told the SDEC members to spread the word. They have. A lot of it is the same things we did in the last few elections without making the changes that need to happen.
There is broad consensus on what Texas needs to do to flip, but there has been a lack of willpower or know-how to get us there.
Things aren’t as dire as they feel.
The changing demographics in Texas are happening fast. Republicans know this, and the gerrymandering that was done last session was done to keep the white Republican incumbents, but they didn’t draw themselves any new districts.
Republicans could gerrymander the maps any way they wanted last session, but they didn’t take gains for themselves because they couldn’t. Texas is only 38% white. So they can crack and pack only so much of the pie for themselves. Many of these Republican districts are 51% Anglo, 54% Anglo, or 55% Anglo.
The only tool they have left is these drastic voter suppression bills we see this session and last. There’s a reason they are targeting Black and brown voting rights.
By 2030, when the next census is polled, there will be very few white-majority districts because the white population will only shrink further.
If Texas isn’t UnFucked by the 2030 census, the elections following the publishing of the census will flip the state for good.
That’s a long time from now. So what do we do until then?
We can’t win if we don’t run.
We need candidates running in every seat. In the Senate and the House, but also local elections. We’ll never win if we don’t run. So even if it’s a deep red district, we need candidates willing to get out there and run because every vote and every election is an opportunity to build momentum and engage with voters.
By fielding candidates in every race, Democrats will increase voter turnout and create opportunities for voters to engage with the party and its platform. It also sends a message that the Democratic Party is present and active in all areas of the state, not just in traditionally blue areas. This will help build the party's brand and reputation and make it easier for Democrats to win elections in the future.
Running candidates in every race allows Democrats to hold their opponents accountable and ensure their message is challenged in all parts of the state. This can help to expose flaws in the GOP's platform and potentially sway voters who may not have considered voting for the Democratic candidate otherwise.
Running a Democrat in every election, even in deeply red areas, will build a stronger, more engaged, and more inclusive party to win elections and enact positive change.
Aside from running every seat, up to 17 House seats could be flipped.
Which House Districts are flippable?
Williamson County - House Districts 20 and 52. The voter turnout in WilCo in 2022 was only 54%, which killed them down there. In 2022, WilCo turned blue when they had a 76% turnout. If this county saw a 76% or higher turnout, both seats could be flipped.
Cameron County - House District 37 should be a real “WTF” moment for South Texas Democrats, and especially Gilberto Hinojosa, who resides there. The voter turnout was only 33%, and Janie Lopez barely scraped by. Historically, South Texans don’t show up for elections, but in 2020, they had a 52% turnout, easily giving Joe Biden a win. Since 2024 will be an election year, this should be an easy win for Texas Democrats.
Collin County - Both Collin and Tarrant County would be reliably blue if they all showed up to vote. House Districts 61 and 67 got over 40% of Democratic votes in a year where Collin County’s turnout was only 52%. Collin has many civic engagement groups, and the county is rapidly turning less white. Collin County is on the verge of flipping and will be blue by 2030, if not sooner.
Denton County - House Districts 63 and 65 are flippable, and the County Democratic Party is also a fantastic group busting its ass year-round to flip this county. As a result, Denton was one of the few Texas Counties in 2022 in which Democrats gained ground.
Tarrant County - House Districts 93, 94, and 97 will be easy pickings if we see a 70% or better turnout. Tarrant is my home county, so it’s a bit of a sore spot, but we only had a 46% turnout in 2022, which gave us Nate Schatzline and the re-election of Tony Tinderholt. Like every other district, turnout is critical.
Dallas County - House Districts 108 and 112 should have been blue. But, unfortunately, the voter turnout in Dallas was worse than Tarrant's at 44%. But turnout is always better in a presidential election year, like 2024, so we should be able to take those then.
Bexar County - House Districts 118, 121, and 122 are in a county that is 70% people of color. Neither Bexar nor Harris County should have any Republican districts. While the GOP has tried to gerrymander a permanent presence there, the demographics alone disadvantaged them.
Harris County - House Districts 132 and 138. Republicans during this legislative session have targeted Harris County elections, schools, taxes, and anything else that would harm the 72% of people of color. I’m betting they’re tired of it and, in 2024, will show up to vote and run Republicans out of town.
(Now you know the races we’ll be talking about during election season.)
So we know where we have the best shots. Now what?
Once election season starts (next month), there needs to be a focus on the counties and districts above. Since we don't have a functioning Democratic Party in the State of Texas, there will be a lot of reliance on various grassroots organizations already putting in the work.
The Texas Grassroots Alliance has spent the last few years building a coalition of grassroots organizations around the state. The alliance comprises dozens of organizations putting in grassroots work to help build a functioning progressive network in Texas. Because of the Texas Grassroots Alliance, groups outside of the Democratic Party are collaborating with various county parties.
Blue Action Dems is a group working closely with the Democratic Party on a neighborhood model that leverages volunteers to provide voter education and to promote Democratic candidates before local, state, and national elections. They have eight chapters currently, and I’ve heard the chatter of more chapters opening up. Unfortunately, they do not have chapters in Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, Denton, or Williamson, but I hope that will change over the next year.
Then there is New Endeavor Texas (NET), whose slogan is #UnFuckTexas, (which is probably the best slogan in politics since “I like Ike”). New Endeavor Texas trains and equips organizers in under-resourced counties to create long-term solutions for their local priorities. Unlike the Texas Democratic Party, which uses unpaid labor, NET’s model pays organizers and volunteers for their labor.
Part of the reason that the Texas Democratic Party is failing in Texas is their reliance on free/volunteer labor to get out there and do the work. Who will have the time and resources to invest in free labor on an ongoing basis? Mostly retirees. So, when rural leftists or urban youth talk about how they don’t get involved in their local county party, often they say it’s because it’s like a social club for little old ladies. They don’t fit in.
To win Texas, Democrats need the youth vote and the Black and Hispanic vote. Right now, those groups are essentially not voting in Texas. New Endeavors believes that by creating what they call “social entrepreneurs,” they will be able to spark the engagement that’s needed.
Then, NET will create a bottom-up organization network in each county. They’ve already begun work in Tarrant, Galveston, and Hildalgo Counties.
Tarrant4Change is a movement of local organizers working towards a safe, just, equitable, and inclusive community in Tarrant County. This group has been connecting all of the groups in Tarrant County, giving each one a leg up by having other progressives in the area when it’s time to mobilize.
Galveston Island Voter Education Resource Services (GIVERS) is a non-partisan collective devoted to defending, preserving, and expanding voting rights by providing civic education to communities throughout Galveston County.
Texas Turnout is a non-partisan voting engagement and outreach coalition based in Hildalgo County of nonprofits established to increase youth voter turnout in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas.
NET intends to help bridge Texas's gaps because our State Democratic Party isn’t enough. So while they’ve begun their work in those three counties, they plan to expand this year.
Remember the counties we spoke of above, with seats to be flipped? Williamson, Cameron, Collins, Denton, Tarrant, Dallas, Bexar, and Harris.
NET is in Tarrant already and plans to be in Collin, Williamson, Denton, and Cameron, along with several other counties.
A lot of people have realized that the Texas Democratic Party is broken. Some started to organize around it but quickly learned that it’s better to work together than work alone.
What about funding candidates?
One of the many problems in Texas has historically been that the Republican Party is swimming and cash, and the Democratic Party is drowning in poverty. While the State Party will likely continue to face woes until they get their act together, there are a multitude of groups looking to help.
Blue Texas is one of the latest organizations to pop up as a spinoff from Blue Ohio and is led by David Pepper, former Ohio State Democratic Party Chair. Their method, they are calling the “bathtub method,” would ensure that Democratic candidates up and down the ballot are supported and funded.
But, in order for them to fund candidates, they have to have candidates first.
Run for Something and Blue Horizons in rural Texas are two groups that are helping enable progressives to run for office in every city, county, and district. The state party should be doing that as well, but historically they haven’t.
It is clear that Texas is at a crucial juncture in terms of its political future.
The changing demographics and the growing dissatisfaction with Republican policies and voter suppression tactics mean that Democrats have a real chance to make significant gains in upcoming elections.
We need the Texas Democratic Party, despite its dysfunctionality, plays a crucial role in the state's political landscape. They provide a necessary counterbalance to the Republican Party. They serve as a source of opposition and accountability, holding the ruling party accountable for their actions.
The key to this success is running candidates in every election, even in traditionally red areas, to build momentum and engage with voters. It’s time for you to engage with your local grassroots organizations. Ideally, enough of us recognize the risks of allowing the GOP to continue their reign and are willing to work together to fix this state.
With the right effort, Texas can be UnFucked and become a reliably blue state, and this should be the goal of every Democrat/Liberal/Progressive/Leftist in the state.