As the summer heat intensifies across Texas, the state's two largest political parties are turning their eyes to November. Texas Republicans and Democrats each hold their state conventions this month, ahead of a midterm election this fall where Dems believe they have a fighting chance in a few races. While the Democrats' record of futility in Texas is well-documented (they haven't won a statewide race since 1994), this year they are targeting a handful of Congressional seats and state legislature positions, while keeping their hopes up for Congressman Beto O'Rourke's longshot bid to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz.
Recent polls show Democrats' support is slipping nationwide as they struggle to turn their opposition to President Trump into something meaningful for voters. But Texas Dems are looking to O'Rourke, who is running a non-traditional campaign against Cruz, as a model for other races. "They're not just kind of playing to fringe base issues like transgender bathroom bills or Jade Helm, we're talking about the concerns of everyday Texans," says Tariq Thowfeek, spokesmen for the Texas Democratic Party.
For their part, Republicans aren't showing a whole lot of concern about the much-hyped blue wave across the country or in Texas. "I'm super excited that Republicans set a primary turnout record, and the Democrats couldn't even meet their 2002 number, much less their record," says James Dickey, Texas GOP chairman. "We had more than half a million more voters turn out than the Democrats did in the primary."
As for the big issues this year, both parties say they plan to shake up their platforms. "I think you'll see a lot of emphasis on school safety, gun violence prevention, education, voting rights, affordable health care, quality public schools," says Thowfeek of the Dems' platform.
The GOP platform could be even more expansive when it comes to the number of issues addressed. "Everything from eminent domain and annexation, to positions on life, school choice, and even pasteurized milk," says Dickey. "Is there something the party should have a position on, and if so what should that position be?"