For several years now the growing Democratic vote in Texas urban and suburban areas gave 134 Democrats like myself hope. When Beto O'Rourke and Mike Collier came within a few percentage points of winning statewide in 2018, the goal of transforming the state through rural efforts made sense. After all, you can't realistically expect a rural Democratic County Party to get 40% or 50% of the vote. But gaining 2-5%, might be achievable. At least that was the thinking.
Then came 2020, followed closely by 2022. Since then the share of Democratic vote in urban and suburban areas has dropped. Which means, we can no longer expect rural votes to have any meaningful impact, unless and until the growth in Democratic support in the state overall starts growing again and keeps growing. A rural strategy only works if there is a strong Democratic power base in urbanized Texas.
With this reality, I have been reevaluating how rural groups like The 134 PAC can have the most impact going forward. I have always viewed rural Democratic work as a long term project. Now it looks more multigenerational than ever. When I said this was a 20 - 30 year project I might have underestimated the amount of time it would take by at least half, maybe longer. Republicans were out of power for over a hundred years. The same may be true of today's Texas Democratic Party.
So, where do we take that, and what do we do with it? I draw several conclusions.
First, electoral efforts in most counties in The 134 will have little impact. Aside from Presidio, Val Verde, Maverick and a handful of other border or far West Texas counties, there is little realistic chance of electing a Democratic candidate to County office. Even in the "Democratic" counties, the long term trend is that numbers continue to slide in the GOP's favor election after election.
Second, there is still a professed desire in many of these places for more moderate commonsense candidates. In many places Republican candidates still can fit that bill, but in a number of counties the radical New Right face of the GOP is taking hold or has already taken over. There is not much chance for a commonsense, middle of the road Republican in these places.
Third, to the vast majority of voters in The 134, the Texas Democratic Party is completely irrelevant as a choice when it comes election time. The election is the Republican Primary.
But this is not necessarily a bad thing for groups like ours. What it teaches us that the place we need to focus our attentions on is the Democratic Primary, not the general election. It is time for moderate and conservative Democrats in The 134 to begin pushing their own agenda, and their own candidates within the Democratic Party. The only way to gain this sort of influence is to increase the number of voters who vote in the Democratic Primary in The 134. What happens in November is beside the point.
We grow by recruiting candidates in The 134 to run in every primary race for local, district or state wide office. Many are afraid because they know they have no chance in November. That is why we should only care about whether they run in the primary. The message is, "We don't care if you do anything or not after the primary. The point is to get in the primary, win the primary and get your name on the ballot. They do not need to commit to a full on campaign in November If they want to great. But that is not what we need. We need real Democratic primaries and Democratic candidates in The 134 no matter who they are. It does not matter if they won't win in November. The point is to draw people, their family and friends to vote for them in the Democratic Primary. The goal is to normalize voting in the Democratic Primary in The 134.
I have several ideas about how we promote this. But I would like to hear your reaction to this idea. Please comment or send me a message