By Brent Budowsky - 05/30/13 03:26 PM EDT
Texas Republicans, led by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R), are using a special session of the Texas legislature to launch an aggressive attack against voting rights that will backfire and ignite a wave of Hispanic voter turnout that will propel Democrats in Texas and nationally.
Census data reveal that during the last decade, 90 percent of new Texas citizens were Hispanic. Yet throughout that decade and continuing today, beginning with gerrymanders masterminded by the disgraced former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R) and continuing with the special session of the Texas legislature convened by governor-for-life Rick Perry (R) and masterminded by Abbott, the great political project of the Texas GOP has been the systematic disenfranchisement of Hispanic and black voters.
Texas Republican voting rights abuses have been condemned by courts before. The U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide a major voting rights case. Texas Republicans convening a special session of the legislature is an expression of contempt towards the rule of law and contempt towards the voting rights of Texans.
Here's the story: If Perry runs for reelection, he would be highly vulnerable in a GOP primary if challenged by Abbott and would be vulnerable in a general election if challenged by a strong Democrat such as state Sen. Wendy Davis. While Abbott would be favored in a general election, he could be beaten by a strong Democrat such as Davis or San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro (D).
Texas Republicans are far more worried than they admit about "Texas going blue." If Hillary Clinton runs for president in 2016, she would have a 50-50 chance of carrying Texas and would help elect Texas Democrats to the legislature in 2016.
Worried Texas Republicans are taking a huge risk by trying to stack the deck and fix the game with a discriminatory attempt to gerrymander districts and disenfranchise black and Hispanic voters. Hispanic citizens in Texas and nationally will be deeply offended and highly energized by this aggressive GOP attack against them.
The abusive Texas GOP attack against voting rights and fair representation will backfire. It insults the intelligence, dignity and interests of Hispanic, black and all voters who want to be respected as equal citizens under law, and not abused like the disappeared during the dictatorship of Pinochet in Chile.
These Texas GOP abuses could increase Hillary's odds of carrying Texas in 2016 above 50-50 and give a booster shot to a potential Davis candidacy for governor in 2014.
Perry and Abbott are publicly arrogant and boastful but privately worried and frantic. They are desperate to preserve every Republican state legislative seat in 2014 and 2016. Washington Republicans are co-conspirators in these attacks against voting rights, as they have been since the days of Delay, because they are desperate to preserve their modest majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The wild card in 2014 is whether Davis runs for governor. The coalition that could make Davis a winner includes her strong support among women; expands with huge support and turnout from black and Hispanic voters; and peaks with additional support from voters she has fought for in the legislature including veterans, seniors, consumers and farmers.
The motivating outrage the Texas GOP will cause with its aggressive attack on black and Hispanic voters will increase the chances for Davis in 2014 and Clinton in 2016. Defiance of the rule of law by the Texas GOP is reminiscent of darker days from the past. It is a sign of growing worry among Texas Republicans. It is the strongest argument for the Voting Rights Act and proof-positive against voting rights opponents who claim "things have changed."
The anti-voting rights spirit of the disgraced Delay lives in the disgraceful actions of Abbott, whose mission is to thwart the law, not uphold it, and to attack the voting rights of Texans, not defend them.
The brazen tactics of banana Republicans in Texas, who increasingly resemble banana republic dictators who once ruled nations in Latin America with crony capitalism and contempt for democracy, will backfire.
The great wave of Hispanic voters will turn even more to Democrats and vote in even greater numbers.
Many key Texas Democrats now believe the future of Texas will be Hillary Clinton and not Rick Perry in 2016, and just might be Wendy Davis and not Greg Abbott in 2014.
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.