Democrats in Texas and around the country have vowed to turn the Lone Star State blue in 2020, following stronger-than-usual results in 2018. But Texas Republicans are fighting back. A Republican Super PAC called Engage Texas formed last summer to register conservative voters has already raised $11.8 million and increased its staff from 18 to 300. That group aims to register more than 100,000 new Republican voters in time for the 2020 election.
Travis Hogue, communications director for the Travis County GOP, believes Republicans need to target new voters and not rely on their longtime voter advantage in Texas. "There's a great number of people moving to Texas," he tells KTRH. "There's an ever increasing number of new voters, especially in our larger cities like Austin and Houston."
Some Democrats have criticized the voter outreach effort as a sign of desperation by Republicans, but Hogue disagrees. "When Republicans do it, we're the villains, we're the ones who are doing it for political purposes," he says. "But when Democrats do it, which they have been doing this kind of strategy for years---with things like MTV's Rock the Vote---no one bats an eye."
Engage Texas isn't the only conservative voter outreach effort in Texas. The state Republican Party's Volunteer Engagement Project is working to register 100,000 voters by this fall, and reports being nearly halfway to that goal already. Hogue believes this is a smart strategy, no matter which party is doing it. "For some reason, (Republicans) are looked at as we're exploiting the system or we're using voter registration for a non-altruistic purpose---but I'm sorry, that's what campaigns have always done," he says. "This is nothing new, it's just being done very well, and I think it's got the Democrats running scared."