Tarrant County

Democrats Hopeful for First Presidential Win in Texas In 44 Years

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Texas hasn’t voted for a Democratic president since Jimmy Carter back in 1976, but some Democratic leaders predict 2020 will be the year Texas turns blue again.

“I’ve never seen the Texas Democratic party this strong,” former U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Roarke of El Paso said in a Facebook Live event Thursday.

The governor, lieutenant governor and other major statewide office holders are all Republican.

But this year, Democrats smell blood in the water.

Polls show a tight race between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, and both plan to spend millions of dollars competing in the Lone Star state.

Trump carried Texas by nine percentage points four years ago.

"We've been having this conversation going back to the early 1990's and the fact of the matter is Texas has not ‘gone blue’ since 1994,” said University of North Texas political science professor Kimi King. “That being said, there have been cracks in the armor."

Consider what happened two years ago in the high-profile Senate race between O'Roarke and Republican incumbent Ted Cruz.

O'Roarke shocked many Republicans by nearly beating him – and even winning in Tarrant County, which Cruz weeks earlier had called the "reddest county in the reddest state."

"Yes Beto winning by a little bit was a little bit of a shock to folks but it was a good wakeup call,” admitted state Rep. Matt Krause of Fort Worth, a vocal Republican.

But he argued O’Roarke’s strong showing was an aberration and said he's confident President Trump will win Texas in November.

"I still think Texas is a red state,” Krause said. “2018 was kind of a wakeup call for a lot of people but you had a perfect storm for Democrats going into that election cycle. You won't have that again here in 2020."

In Tarrant County, where O'Roarke won, every major officeholder from Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, to County Judge Glen Whitley, remains a Republican.

"On the first Tuesday in November there's going to be a whole lot of excitement,” said Deborah Peoples, chair of the Tarrant County Democratic Party. "If you look at the large urban areas, our numbers continue to grow and that's where we have the clear advantage of Republicans in this election."

Analysts say there's little doubt Biden will carry most major cities in Texas, saying the question will be whether or not Trump offsets that strength with a powerful showing in the suburbs and rural areas.

Whoever wins, Texas will be a big prize with 38 electoral votes, the second-highest to California.

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