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Progressive candidates' success in Texas could indicate changing face of Democratic Party

Some political analysts say recent progressive candidate success is a sign the Texas Democratic party is moving left.

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas is poised to send the most liberal Democrat in state history to Congress. That progressive member will be representing San Antonio. Two other progressive candidates are in the run-offs. 

Some political analysts say it's a sign the Texas Democratic party is moving left.

After winning the Democratic nomination for Congressional District 35, which covers the I-35 corridor from San Antonio to Austin, Greg Casar is predicted to win this heavily Democratic district in November. He brings a very liberal agenda from this conservative state.

"There's so many families, working people that believe in a $15 an hour minimum wage, believe that we should not have crushing student debt holding back our young people, believe that we should have free health care as a human right," said Casar.

As an Austin city councilmember Casar voted to redirect money away from police.

"I voted and proudly voted to say, you know what? Let's take a pause on some of our police classes and reform that academy," said Casar.

Two progressive candidates are in congressional run-offs as the country looks to Texas to see if the Democratic party is changing.

"In our recent UT Texas Politics Project Poll, we ask Democrats whether they think the Democratic party is liberal enough, not liberal enough or too liberal. The most frequent response that you get from the youngest cohort of voters is not liberal enough," said Jim Henson with the UT Texas Politics Project.

"We're going to see more candidates like Greg Casar and other, again, more grassroots progressive movement of candidates emerge and become a louder voice in the party," said Henson.

Casar's progressive policies earned the endorsement of Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who is trying to reshape the Democratic party. AOC campaigned here for Casar and Jessica Cisneros.

Cisneros says the endorsement helped her get into the May 24th run-off against nine term Congressman Henry Cuellar.

"I think it's definitely helping in terms of anything that can help raise awareness about what kind of work we're doing and what kind of policies we're fighting for here in South Texas. We're fighting for funding education and health care. Reproductive rights falls squarely under health care," said Cisneros.

Cuellar has the support of Democratic leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Whip James Clyburn who campaigned here for him. Cuellar he says the polices of AOC don't represent his district which reaches from east San Antonio to Laredo and further south along the border.

"If you look at the progressives, even my opponent, I don't think Hispanics support defund the police. You know, Hispanics generally are conservative in nature and to come in with this far left type of progressive ideas, this is not what South Texas is looking for," said Cuellar.

The redrawn congressional election maps make most districts less competitive in the general election. Political analysts say that means we'll see more candidates from the far left and far right in the primaries and a shift from moderate to progressive here in Texas.

"If you look at the attitudes of people who identify as Texas Democrats, the share of people who identify as liberal is definitely increasing and has increased over the past decade as the Texas party, slowly and in a lot of ways, very slowly comes to look more and more like the national Democratic party," said Henson.

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