State Politics

Blue wave? U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey suggests Texas Democrats take anger and faith to the polls

Delegate Craig Petersen of Allen attends a rally at the Texas Democratic Convention on Saturday, June 23, 2018 at the Fort Worth Convention Center area. The rally was protesting the Trump administration's treatment of immigrant families. The convention ended Saturday.
Delegate Craig Petersen of Allen attends a rally at the Texas Democratic Convention on Saturday, June 23, 2018 at the Fort Worth Convention Center area. The rally was protesting the Trump administration's treatment of immigrant families. The convention ended Saturday. Special to the S-T

Texas Democrats believe the blue wave predicted to cascade through the country in November will hit the Lone Star State.

But U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey said the party must stand together — and show up in great numbers — to make that happen.

"For the first time in a decade, there is more momentum and enthusiasm in Texas moving us forward," Veasey, D-Fort Worth, told thousands of delegates gathered at the Fort Worth Convention Center for the last day of their biennial state convention. "Texans are fed up.

"This November, we are turning out in record numbers," he said. "We are going to take our anger, our heartache and our faith in the American dream all the way to the ballot box."

Democrats locally and across the country hope to see a “blue wave” in this year’s midterm elections, largely thanks to Republican President Donald Trump. Generally, the president’s political party tends to lose seats during these elections, both in Congress and state houses across the country.

That was a key issue this week for Democrats gathered at their state convention in Tarrant County, the largest urban area in Texas that remains reliably Republican.

Democrats — who haven't elected someone from their party to statewide office since 1994 — say this year is different.

They say they've got more candidates on the ballot than usual this year. And many, party leaders say, already are raising more money than anticipated for their campaigns.

Some say this reliably red state that helped elect Trump in 2016 isn't as reliably red as voters have shown it is in the past.

"I am not waiting to see this state turn blue," said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, a former Democratic state representative. "I'm just waiting for us to be who we are.

"A rising tide will lift us up," he said. "We already are blue. We just have to vote blue and we win."

Bellwether

Many are looking at Tarrant County this upcoming election, because this area has long been considered a bellwether for the state.

Political observers maintain if this county flips, the state could be ready to change as well.

"Texas goes as Tarrant County goes," many say.

Two key races, some say, are expected to play out here.

One is the battle for Senate District 10 — a key political battleground because it's neither solidly Republican nor Democratic — that pits Republican incumbent Konni Burton against Democratic primary nominee Beverly Powell. Burton sent out a fundraising email noting that the party has made it clear that "they are only coming to Fort Worth to bring attention to our race so they can energize their local base and turn SD 20 blue this November."

Another is the Democratic fight to unseat firebrand Republican state Rep. Jonathan Stickland of Bedford, a vocal member of the Freedom Caucus who hopes to help push the House to the right. He faces Democrat Steve Riddell on the Nov. 6 ballot.

"It's no secret. We have our work cut out for us," state Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, told delegates at the convention. "But Texas Democrats ... don't and won't ever back down from this fight.

"Let's roll up our sleeves."

Turnout counts

Texas Republicans are confident that their party can fend off a blue wave.

But Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller was among those last week, during the GOP's state convention, to encourage voters to take nothing for granted.

"In November, the Democrats’ so-called blue wave needs to be, as Donald Trump likes to say, met with a big, beautiful, red, Republican wall," he said.

Tarrant County Democratic Party Chair Deborah Peoples drew some of the largest cheers of the day and a standing ovation when she talked about the need for the party to stand together and withdrew her name from the race for party vice chair to avoid a contested election.

"We need to be about unity," Peoples said, as delegates cheered for her.

Others echoed that call.

"We need to leave here and work like we mean it ... like we know this year will be different," Vesasey said. "This is the year we take control back.

"We're bringing change, more diversity to our party — and we cannot waste this momentum."

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley

A Houston-area Republican state representative trying to prank Texas Democrats was forced to leave the state Democratic convention in Fort Worth Friday, but not before showing what appeared to be a sidearm.



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