Effort to weaken GOP stronghold in Texas makes stop in McAllen - The Monitor: News

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Effort to weaken GOP stronghold in Texas makes stop in McAllen

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Posted: Thursday, March 21, 2013 10:13 am

Invoking the names of Sen. Ted Cruz and President Barack Obama, a Battleground Texas leader said Wednesday night in McAllen that it’s possible to turn the state from red to blue in the future.  

At opposite ends of the political spectrum, state field director Alex Steele used the contemporary political figures to illustrate Texas’ current political state — dominated by Republicans — and the potential waiting to be tapped for Democrats.

Battleground Texas, a state and federal political action committee organized by Obama staffers, launched this month. The meeting with about 40 people at the Taco Palenque on North 10th Street was a stop on a 14-city tour across the state. The group said it intends to introduce itself, identify key local figures and find out what the needs of each community are.

Transitioning Texas from red to purple to blue will undoubtedly be a great challenge, Steele said. He told the audience electoral votes from Texas haven’t gone to a Democrat since 1976, when Americans elected Jimmy Carter president.

“For anyone on the outside looking in, on paper that looks daunting,” he said.

Oscar Silva, a Battleground Texas volunteer from El Paso who previously worked on the Obama campaign, said the organization expects to commit to the effort for the next eight years at least.

“Rumor has it that the Valley can really carry Texas so it’s definitely going to play a big part and that’s why it’s at the beginning of the tour,” he said. “We know that if we turn Texas blue, Republicans are never going to win the White House again. It’s impossible. It’s the last large state still voting red.”

For their part, Republicans mocked the launch of the organization with a statement from Steve Munisteri, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, in February.

“Texas is doing just fine with our low taxes, limited government and personal freedoms,” the statement addressed to Battleground Texas read. “We think it’s just a matter of time before you realize we’re doing things well here and when you do, invite you to join the dozens of Democrat elected officials who switched to the Republican Party in the last year. In fact, just this last week, we welcomed 3 more former Democrats to the GOP.”

Steele said Texas isn’t as red as its leaders would suggest and now is a pivotal moment to begin change. He said the group will focus on registering and persuading voters while driving voter turnout numbers higher.

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Jacqueline Armendariz covers law enforcement and courts for The Monitor. She can be reached at jarmendariz@themonitor.com and (956) 683-4434 or on Twitter, @jarmendariz.

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