Hillary Clinton Defeats Bernie Sanders in Texas

Hillary Clinton greets supporters at Texas Southern University in Houston Saturday, February 20, 2016, after winning the Nevada caucus.
Hillary Clinton greets supporters at Texas Southern University in Houston Saturday, February 20, 2016, after winning the Nevada caucus.

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

*Clarification appended

Once again, Texas delivered for a Clinton. 

Hillary Clinton easily won a majority of the statewide vote in the Texas Democratic primary, dominating her rival for the party's nomination, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. 

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Clinton had 65 percent support to Sanders' 33 percent.

 

As she struggled early on against Sanders in Iowa and New Hampshire, her campaign promised the tide would turn once the primary turned to states with substantive minority voting blocs — states like Texas. 

Clinton was projected to rack up wins elsewhere Tuesday, in Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, according to national media outlets. Sanders was projected to win Vermont, his home state. 

But the Texas win is particularly meaningful to the Clintons. 

Clinton a former Secretary of State, leaned on her decadeslong relationship with the state, dating back to her work in 1972 registering South Texas Hispanics to vote

During their 1992 and 2008 presidential campaigns, Bill and Hillary Clinton came into the state during difficult stretches in their respective nomination fights. And each time, the state delivered consequential delegate tallies. In 2008, Clinton's flagging bid for the Democratic nomination gained momentum in Texas by drawing more voters than Barack Obama in Texas, though Obama ultimately received more delegates from the state due to arcane rules in place that year.

Hillary Clinton only held one public event in the state in the weeks leading up to the primary — in Houston. Instead, she delegated campaigning duties to her husband, who also worked as a Democratic National Committee staffer on the 1972 George McGovern presidential campaign. 

“This is a really impressive result, and it reflects Hillary’s ties to this city and this county,” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, at the campaign’s San Antonio victory party. “She did not need an introduction to Texas because of those deep roots here, and Sen. Sanders was a newcomer, so she had almost a home-court advantage, but she handled it very effectively.”

Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros said Clinton drew from a diverse coalition of support among Texas voters. 

 

“It’s a combination of the loyalty of the Hispanic and African-American communities in Texas who appreciate what she’s done and the groundedness of other Democratic groups like the unions who can distinguish between the abstractions of a candidate like Bernie Sanders and a get-it-done, experienced candidate like Hillary Clinton,” said Cisneros, a former mayor of San Antonio.

Clinton also cleaned up with another class of delegates: party elites. Democratic National Committee rules empower party elders — mostly members of Congress and DNC members — with a special delegate vote toward the nomination. So far, Clinton has commitments from a majority of Texas' superdelegates.

One key point, though: While statewide wins translate into campaign bragging rights, Democratic primaries are proportional. The party will soon clarify the delegate allocations. 

As Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, took the stage at the Clinton campaign's San Antonio bash late Tuesday, several people yelled out, “Hello Mr. Vice President!”

But his twin brother, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, has consistently been on the top of the media’s vice presidential shortlist.

“My brother understands that vice president is not an office that you run for. It’s the choice of the nominee," Castro said. "So he’s focused on his work at HUD ... I’m biased because I’m his brother, but I think that he’s sharp, that he’s well-prepared, that he’s a thoughtful person, that he connects with young voters and also voters in every demographic. I think my brother would be great at whatever he does."

Castro said a general election match-up between Clinton and Trump is looking increasingly likely.

“It’s clear that Donald Trump is on a strong path to the Republican nomination and a lot of Republican voters and Republican elected officials are going to have to do some deep soul-searching because he’s taking the party to a very dark and ugly place," he said.

Castro added that Clinton will also have to work to unify her party behind her.

“I don’t think there’s anybody who hasn’t been impressed by Sen. Sanders' campaign,” Castro said. “He’s raised an incredible amount of money by small-dollar contributions. He’s got the support of a lot of energetic and passionate young people. If Secretary Clinton does win the nomination, it will be important for her to reach over to those voters and let them know that she will carry their concerns forward to November and beyond.”

Clarification: This story has been updated to make clear that a Houston rally was the only public event Hillary Clinton attended in Texas in the weeks leading up to the state's Democratic primary.

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