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The Brief: Sept. 6, 2012

Texas' moment in the convention spotlight this week has the state's Democrats thinking big.

The Texas Democratic state convention on June 8, 2012

The Big Conversation:

Texas' moment in the convention spotlight this week has the state's Democrats thinking big.

San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro's warmly received keynote speech on Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C., sparked widespread speculation about his political future. Though observers say Castro, after his national debut, looks well poised to seek higher office in the state, he faces this fact: Texans haven't elected a Democrat to statewide office since 1994.

But Castro said Wednesday, according to The Washington Post, that he thinks the state's growing Hispanic population could turn Texas Democratic sooner than expected. "Those trends are going to cause the state to go purple and then blue within the next six to eight years," he said.

And as Castro basks in the spotlight this week, the new-found attention on the state's electoral future has highlighted one of the most important questions surrounding the future of the Texas Democratic Party: how to raise more money.

As the Tribune's Emily Ramshaw reports from Charlotte, the national convention has exposed a divide over fundraising — between one group of Texas Democrats urging contributors in the state to direct more of their donations to local and statewide races, and another group of high-dollar fundraisers looking to bring out-of-state attention and money to Texas by touting its potential to one day turn blue on the electoral map.

Supporters of the latter approach say out-of-state forces have already begun to aid Texas Democrats. According to Obama bundlers in the state, the campaign maintains field offices in Texas that keep Democrats engaged. The Democratic National Committee also transfers $10,000 a month to the state party.

Either way, the long-exiled party stands to benefit from enthusiasm about helping Texas Democrats — whether from inside or outside the state.

"Some of the major donors in Texas are still depressed; they think we can’t win anything," said Michael Li, an attorney and Dallas-based Obama fundraiser. "Right now, nationally, people are focused on re-electing the president. But after November, what I’m hearing is a big discussion about Texas."


  • Though Julián Castro gave Texas its biggest moment of the Democratic National Convention, a few other Texans in Charlotte stole a sliver of the spotlight on Wednesday. Benita Veliz, a 27-year-old from San Antonio whose parents brought her into the U.S. on a visa nearly 20 years ago, on Wednesday night became the first undocumented person to address a national convention. And Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards used her address to champion women's reproductive health and channel her mother, former Gov. Ann Richards. "She reminded us how far we’ve come, and that there was a time when folks had to drink from separate water fountains, when kids were punished for speaking Spanish in the school, when her grandmother couldn’t even vote," she said. "My mom spent her entire life working to make things more fair."
  • In Charlotte to do media work for the Mitt Romney campaign, state Rep. Stefani Carter, R-Dallas, on Wednesday praised Romney for his newly announced Black Leadership Council. "Gov. Romney formed a council of African-Americans to advise him on issues from small business to job creation, and that step alone is more than we’ve seen our president do," Carter, a member of the council, told Newsmax. "President Obama, under his leadership, has given a 14.4 percent unemployment rate among African-Americans. That’s a real problem."
  • A Bloomberg analysis of U.S. Senate campaign advertising this year has found that a David Dewhurst ad attacking Ted Cruz is the most-aired spot of 2012 so far. The ad, which hit Cruz over his legal work for a Chinese tire maker, aired more than 4,000 times, 484 of which in Dallas.
  • Texas is officially experiencing the worst West Nile virus outbreak in state history, David Lakey, who heads the Texas Department of State Health Services, said Wednesday. More than 1,000 cases of the virus — and 40 deaths tied to the outbreak — have been reported throughout the state. Scientists still can't explain, though, why Texas has been hit harder than other states, many of which have also experienced hotter-than-usual summers. "We really don’t know at this point in time why this occurred,” Dr. Lyle Petersen of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told The Dallas Morning News. "It’s one of the things we’re going to be looking at very carefully at the end of the season."

"The action to defund Planned Parenthood is a shame for Texas and this country and makes Texas an exception to every other advanced democracy in the world." — Feminist icon Gloria Steinem at the Texas Council on Family Violence conference on Wednesday


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