Hispanics Are the Key to Keeping Texas Red

Republicans have been wringing their hands since Beto O'Rourke came within 2.8% of defeating Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2018 U.S. Senate election. The hand-wringing accelerated when a poll came out this spring showing former Vice President Joe Biden was 4% ahead of President Donald Trump in Texas. On top of that, losing two congressmen, 12 state representatives, one state senator, and a score of appellate court judges has Republicans in a fear frenzy.They should all relax. There is one clear, decisive factor in Texas politics in the years ahead that could either cement Texas' redness or lead to Texas drifting purple or even blue: Hispanic Texans' voting preferences. Sure, the female vote is critical, and there are other important voting blocs that should be courted, but the reality is, it all comes down to Hispanics, and in that demographic, Texas Republicans should be optimistic.As chairman of Associated Republicans of Texas from 2010 to 2015, I worked with Hispanic leaders on an outreach initiative to Hispanic citizens. Hispanic Texans are open-minded and fairly apolitical. Unlike so many ideologues in the country today, many of whom become tethered to extreme viewpoints on the left and the right, Hispanic Texans tend to think in terms of practicality and functionality, discerning what will make life better for their families and their communities.However, Hispanics won't vote Republican simply because someone shows up once every four years to ask for their votes right before an election — in fact, such transaction-based interaction could be self-defeating. Hispanic Texans tend to focus on relationships, not occasional transactions. To build a consistent bloc of Hispanic Republican voters requires constant presence in predominantly Hispanic communities, churches, big cities, small towns, and everywhere else. When he was governor, George W. Bush got that — he visited El Paso more than any other city between his two elections, and he won El Paso and basically split the Hispanic vote down the middle when he ran for re-election in 1998. He showed up, again and again. And he built real relationships and trust. You can't fake that over time; people figure that out.When Republicans do show up, they have much common ground with Hispanic Texans — commitment to freedom, social conservatism, hard work leading to opportunity, entrepreneurial enthusiasm and commitment to family. However, we must also show pragmatic and productive action. Most Texas Hispanics do not respect pure ideologues — political operatives, activists and candidates who constantly focus on fundraising, division, acrimony, argumentation and ideological purity. They want results from their government — great schools, great universities, a compelling economy, plentiful job opportunities, paved roads, public safety, clean and reliable water and power, and infrastructure supportive of Texas's hypergrowth. Republicans must show up, show respect, show true empathy and interest, and show pragmatic, life-improving results to consistently win over a significant bloc of Hispanic voters.Unless demographics and voting patterns change dramatically, Republicans will keep Texas bright red, at least statewide, if they regularly earn at least 40% of the Texas Hispanic vote. If they truly want to sustain the Republican dominance of Texas for another generation, they better do so. It's the whole shooting match, politically.George Seay is chairman of Annandale Capital. He wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News.  Continue reading...

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