SAN ANTONIO — As the top 10 Democratic contenders vying for president faced off Thursday in Houston, Texas Democrats are laying out their plans to turn the state blue.
Texas Democrats launched their Path to Victory plan this week, stating on their website, “we know that to win, we must build a state party infrastructure larger than anyone has ever seen.”
University of Texas at San Antonio professor Dr. Jon Taylor said the Democrats are already on their way to accomplishing that goal. “It is emblematic of the fact that Texas is slowly but surely turning from red to purple,” said Taylor, who also serves as Department Chair in the College of Liberal and Fine Arts Department of Political Science and Geography.
Texas Democrats also said in their plan that “Texas Republicans are scared.”
Taylor said that's not a crazy claim. "They’re not completely inaccurate there. You’re talking about 2018 with Beto O’Rourke giving Ted Cruz a run for his money, and you’re looking at what happened in Houston and Harris County, a complete collapse of Republicans there."
President Donald Trump’s campaign possibly supported that theory today, taking out a full-page ad in the San Antonio Express News, bashing hometown candidate Julian Castro.
"Donald Trump is worried for a reason. You look at the latest polling numbers, Donald Trump is behind Joe Biden and behind Elizabeth Warren and behind Kamala Harris within the state," Taylor said. "That is a real concern for Republicans because that has a down ballot, downdraft effect."
But how are the two Texas Democrats fairing on the national stage?
In a recent University of Texas and Texas Tribune poll, Beto O’Rourke came in third with 14% of support, behind the top contender, Joe Biden with 26%, and Elizabeth Warren with 18%.
Former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro tied for 7th place with Andrew Yang, pulling in only 3% of support of voters.
"You’ve got 10 candidates, it’s going to whittle down from there, and you have two Texans in the debate that really have to do something if they’re going to be viable going into late January early March," said Taylor.
Is there a chance Castro could catch up to the top contenders after the debate Thursday night in Houston?
“He’s got to try to light a fire and find momentum,” said Taylor. “Can he find it tonight? Possibly, but he’s got a really keen in on certain issues and go after those front runners, and the same with Beto O’Rourke.”
Another poll by the University of Texas and Texas Tribune asked voters what would be their most important issue in the 2020 Democratic race.
The number one issue that 43% of voters said would help them decide who to cast their vote for in the Democratic Primary is “Defeating Donald Trump.”
"It’s the same way in 2020 for the Democrats," Taylor said. "Who do they think is most viable, who do they think could really last versus the insane onslaughts that will likely come in this election cycle versus Donald Trump?"