"For the needy shall not always be forgotten;
The expectation of the poor shall not perish forever."
Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner is a friend and former colleague. Today, he wrote a perceptive column about the lack of action in GOP efforts to woo Hispanic voters. Unfortunately, he also included this line about efforts in Texas:
Texas, for instance, has nine majority-Hispanic [U.S. House] districts (all held by Democrats) and the Democrat is running without a Republican opponent in four of them. In four other races a minor GOP candidate is running with no support from the National Republican Congressional Committee in the form of contributions or independent expenditures, according to a review of data gathered by the Center for Responsive Politics. Only in the 23rd District — a sprawling, rural border district — is the GOP playing, backing Will Hurd.With all due respect to Tim, he's looking at the wrong place on the ballot. Texas Republican efforts to recruit Hispanic candidates are happening much closer to home. Given the restrictive nature of Federal campaign finance laws, U.S. House races will be one of the last places these efforts bear fruit.
For example, Hispanic Republicans of Texas is a group founded by George P. Bush (*) in 2009. They've currently endorsed almost 30 candidates. Most of these candidates are running for county level executive and judicial positions in heavily Democrat counties. The highest level of government they're endorsing this cycle is State Rep. The group intends to start with city council, county, and school board candidates.
Meanwhile, at the top of the ticket, Greg Abbott has made the biggest outreach effort in the Rio Grande Valley of any Republican candidate ever:
But this year, Republican nominee Greg Abbott, the state’s attorney general, has set out to break [George W.] Bush’s record by making the rapidly growing Hispanic vote — and the Rio Grande Valley — central to his campaign. The day after Abbott announced his candidacy in San Antonio, he was in McAllen, on the Mexican border. He has visited the area 14 times during the campaign, most recently for his first debate with the Democratic candidate, state Sen. Wendy Davis.
He has also aired six Spanish-language TV ads, including one featuring his Latina mother-in-law that premiered during the Mexico-Brazil World Cup match in June. (“His values are our values. Faith, family and honesty,” his sister-in-law Rosie Phalen says in the ad.)
The situation has surprised locals who are accustomed to being a sideshow in big elections.
“This is the first time in my memory . . . that we’ve had the interest of the politicians,” said McAllen Mayor Jim Darling, who has endorsed Abbott and whose office is nonpartisan. “For years, the Democrats kind of took our county for granted, and the Republicans didn’t think they’d make any inroads.”
But [Wendy] Davis also has vulnerability among Hispanics. Republicans have seized on her position on abortion to paint her as anti-family. She surprised many people by losing several border counties in the primary — including Hidalgo, Starr and Willacy in the Rio Grande Valley — to an obscure 71-year-old Corpus Christi judge named Reynaldo “Ray” Madrigal, who barely campaigned.
Republicans concede way too much territory to Democrats. Often the areas they concede overlap with majority Hispanic areas. Tim was right to make this point. But he's off the mark in Texas. Texas Republicans are actively recruiting and running Hispanic candidates in Hispanic areas. But these movements need to bubble up from the local level. Federal races are the last place this will materialize.
* Yeah, we know, but HRT does good work even if some of these candidates will need primary challenges in a few years.