Two of Texas’ top Democratic women — Houston Mayor Annise Parker and longtime state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio — revved up an early morning crowd of state delegates on Tuesday, painting Texas Republicans as out of touch and on the fringe, and saying that even if the national party doesn’t give much attention to Texas in the next two months, state Democrats must work overtime to win local races.
“We’re going to talk to our family members, our coworkers, our lines at the grocery store,” Parker said. “We are going to talk to other Americans who may not be Democrats and we are going to remind them that Democrats exist in Texas.”
Van de Putte, noting that delegates were awakened at 3 a.m. because of a fire alarm at their hotel, said “fire alarms are going off back home” in Texas, and that Democrats “need to be ready no matter what time of day it is.”
“We are totally outnumbered at the statehouse,” she said. “We get these very odd issues, promoted by our Republican colleagues, that don’t go to the core or the heart of what the job of Texas government is.”
It’s a message that resonates with Bob Binder, a 67-year-old delegate from Austin with a stack of Texans for Obama bumper stickers. He said the Republicans have been “overplaying their hand, they’ve lost their bearing, they’re way out there.”
“There’s nothing patriotic about keeping people from voting, telling women how to run their bodies,” he said.
Parker painted a hopeful — if realistic — picture for turning Texas blue, saying the state’s big cities are “large blue islands in the big red sea."
Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa ticked off cities and regions that are steeped in blue, from Dallas to El Paso to Austin, and said more inroads were being made all the time.
“Sounds to me like we’re a swing state,” he asked, “right?”