The Lone Star State is headed blue — the only question is WHEN Texas becomes a Democratic state. If Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Poll: Democracy is under attack, and more violence may be the future Popping the progressive bubble MORE runs for president, she will have a fighting chance of carrying Texas, which shares revolutionary demographic trends rewriting the rules of politics, and of creating opportunities for Democrats to regain control of the House and achieve a national realignment of Rooseveltian magnitude.
No less an authority than Karl Rove is known to have been worrying about the political future of Texas for years, with good reason. If Clinton were to run in 2016, she would attract a giant surge of the demographically powerful Hispanic vote, an equally giant surge of the equally powerful women’s vote, a strong surge of support from younger voters who are developing lifetime habits of voting Democratic, and strong support from seniors and boomers.
These trends are as powerful in Texas as they are nationally. Some enterprising pollster will run the numbers for Hillary versus various Republicans that will show the potential strength of a Clinton candidacy in the Lone Star State.
The coming Democratic surge in Texas has been held back by two factors, both of which are highly relevant to Democratic prospects of regaining control of the House and maintaining control of the Senate in 2014.
First, while Texas Democrats have a number of very able leaders at the congressional, state legislative and municipal levels, the Texas Democratic Party structure has been asleep at the wheel and failed to recruit and finance the strongest statewide candidates.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. John CornynJohn CornynMental health: The power of connecting requires the power of investing Senators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall Cornyn says he 'would be surprised' if GOP tries to unseat Sinema in 2024 MORE (R-Texas) both face upcoming reelection campaigns and potential GOP primaries. Perry could lead Texas Republicans to disaster. He acts like the banana republic autocrats of the 1970s, combining crony capitalism with an attempt to name himself governor for life. He can be beaten.
If — and only if — the Texas Democratic Party stops lip-synching talk about winning elections and starts aggressively doing what it takes to win elections, beginning with aggressive candidate recruiting and financing, there could be 2014 surprises in Texas.
While the Texas Democratic Party has a history of being lackadaisical, the Clintons do not. Want an early read on Hillary’s intentions? Watch whether the Clintons begin visiting the Lone Star State ahead of the 2014 elections.
The second factor inhibiting Texas going blue is national. National Democrats often view Texas as an ATM machine the way the old British empire viewed its colonies, seeking to extract wealth from Texas rather than supporting Democrats in Texas.
While the Obama campaign did many things right, one thing it did wrong was to treat presidential politics as personal to Obama and not institutional in support of Democrats in the House, Senate and key states including Texas. Far too often the Obama campaign was too Obama-centric, while the Democratic National Committee was too Obama-centric and Washington-centric.
The new Obama super-PAC, led by Jim Messina, could be a blessing or a curse for Democrats. The prime directives must be to win back control of the House, protect the most vulnerable Senate Democrats and empower Democrats in key states including Texas, which will require an intense, aggressive and unified focus. If President Obama and Messina understand this, they could lead the realignment and drive a legacy-creating agenda with a Democratic Congress after 2014. If they do not, they only divert money and attention from the main mission and create major inter-party tensions.
Obama has brilliantly understood and skillfully tapped the huge demographic changes that rewrite the rules of Texan and American politics. And to invert the recent words of Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFeehery: The next Republican wave is coming Rift widens between business groups and House GOP Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power MORE (R-Ohio), it is the extremism of rightist factions that clash with the demographic facts of American life that has annihilated the Republican majority created by Ronald Reagan, who would not understand the Balkanizing fanaticism of his party today.
Texas is going blue. Demographics are destiny. The only question is when. As the sun sets on the highly successful tenure of Hillary Clinton as secretary of State, and the sun rises on the next stage of her historic life, don’t be surprised if her greatest run for the roses blossoms alongside the yellow rose of Texas
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.