By Brent Budowsky - 02/27/13 10:58 PM EST
Since my January column “Hillary turns Texas Blue,” new polling suggests that Hillary Clinton would lead major Republicans in Texas in a 2016 campaign. Former Houston Mayor Bill White would lead Republican Gov. Rick Perry in a battle for governor in 2014. National media has rediscovered Texas politics. Texas Democrats are buzzing with newfound energy and could elect two new House Democrats in 2014. Political players close to President Obama now see Texas as an important opportunity. Important Hillary Clinton champions in Texas are highly interested in lifting Texas Democrats. These patterns are repeated in other key states, which is an underreported asset in the drive of House Democrats to regain control.
The Texas Democratic Party will soon roll out a major party-building project. Plans are under way for powerful Texas Democratic donors, whom I cannot disclose, to meet soon to plan a well-financed Texas offensive.
Politics is war. A blue Texas, blue Florida and Democratic House of Representatives will require brutal battles. But powerful demographic and political factors, coupled with the epic brand disaster of the GOP, create tailwind forces lifting Democrats. For example, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) is in big trouble: polling suggests former Gov. Charlie Crist (D) would swamp Scott, and former Democratic gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink would lead Scott in a 2014 campaign.
Success for Democrats will largely be determined by the behavior of Democrats. If Hillary Clinton runs in 2016, she sweeps to a landslide in Florida and battles in a 50-50 campaign in Texas. If Texas Democrats field powerful candidates for governor and senator in 2014, they will be underdogs in winnable races. If a strong Texas Democrat runs and wins, he (or she) will be an instant national political superstar.
The overriding priority for President Obama and his political apparatus should be an aggressive, targeted and relentless drive to win Democratic control of the House, defend five key Democratic senators and aggressively build key state parties for 2014.
If Democrats regain control of the House, Obama would effectively win a third term, beginning January 2015, with a legacy-enhancing Democratic Congress. If not, lame-duck status awaits.
Large Democratic donors should be generous but ruthless in asking how their money will be spent. The coming launch of party-building initiatives by the Texas Democratic Party deserves strong support. The Battleground Texas project deserves strong support if it identifies specific Texas targets to win 2014 elections.
Donors should come to meetings with big checks in their pockets, but only sign them, in Texas and nationally, for ruthlessly targeted projects with definable impact beginning in 2014. Obama’s friends can be profoundly helpful, but must accept that Obama is not popular in Texas and should avoid cable appearances that tie Texas Democrats to Obama, while the Clintons are far more popular in Texas and offer double-barreled, game-changing reinforcements.
Richard Parker in a Feb. 20 New York Times op-ed argues demographics are overrated. Nonsense. He misses key points. Demographics are destiny. Aggressive organizing, fundraising and focus only move up the timetable of the inevitable. Strong candidate recruitment could be decisive in Texas and everywhere. Demographics involve more than Hispanics.
As Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards wrote to the Times in a letter responding to Parker, women are also a powerful demographic force. As are young voters. With the GOP alienating huge numbers of Hispanics, women and young voters, the blue mission is organizing, motivating and mobilizing these demographic-wave voters who are simultaneously moving blue, in strategically targeted and power-changing campaigns, in Texas and nationally.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.