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Hillary’s Texas Ties

Ahead of first Democratic debate, Clinton remains the favorite—in Texas and nationwide.

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Hillary Clinton at a campaign stop in Beaumont in March 2008.
AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster

This evening, Hillary Clinton will appear in Las Vegas for the first Democratic presidential debate of the 2016 cycle, which is being hosted by CNN and Facebook. She won’t be the only candidate on stage, of course, but for those of us covering Texas politics she may as well be. Her closest rival for the nomination, according to national polls, is Bernie Sanders. The independent senator from Vermont has elicited enthusiasm on America’s left for both his unabashedly progressive views—he describes himself as a democratic socialist, although some in America’s socialist community dispute his credentials—and, I think, for his spirited refusal to accept the inevitability of the Clinton candidacy. And it should be said that Sanders has plenty of fans in Texas, too. Back in July, some 13,000 people turned out to see him speak at rallies in Houston and Dallas; as the Texas Tribune’s Patrick Svitek noted at the time, Sanders’s trip “easily represented the most well-attended visit to the state by any presidential candidate so far this election cycle. “

Still, it’s hard for me to imagine a scenario in which Sanders wins the Democratic primary in Texas. Taking a big picture view, the Clinton vs. Sanders rivalry is a proxy fight between centrist Democrats and the explicitly progressive left. Since the 2008 primary came down to Clinton and Barack Obama–an explicitly progressive Democrat who ultimately won the nomination and the presidency and a second term in 2012—I can see why Democrats might be optimistic about Sanders’ chances in some states. But his supporters in Texas should keep in mind that Clinton won the primary here in 2008, and that they probably weren’t even born the last time Ralph Yarborough was elected to represent Texas in the United States Senate, in 1964.

Plus, it remains the case that Hillary Clinton is more popular among Texas Democrats than one might think. I don’t fully understand why that it is, but I noticed as much in 2008, when I reported on the Democratic primaries from about a dozen states. Democrats in every state were excited about Obama, who represented the future as much as his party’s left. Only in Texas did I regularly encounter Democratic voters who were sincerely, spontaneously enthusiastic about Clinton. She actually seemed to elicit more hometown pride in San Antonio than Arkansas; as I was regularly reminded, she and Bill lived there in the 1970s, when they were working on George McGovern’s presidential campaign.

Clinton has made a point of staying in touch with her Texas friends. Yesterday, she was endorsed by Joaquin Castro, Leticia Van de Putte, and Carlos Uresti; Thursday she will be endorsed by Julián Castro, who is widely considered a potential running-mate should she win the nomination. The newsworthiness of these endorsements is somewhat mitigated by their inevitability. Since some Texas Democrats are probably waiting to see what Joe Biden decides to do, it’s a little premature to make sweeping generalizations. But it’s a reasonable supposition that unless otherwise specified, any given Texas Democrat is a Clinton supporter.

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  • Vik Verma

    Clinton was certainly the Texas Democratic establishment choice in 2008, and that was key to narrowly winning the primary portion. Note that Obama did much better than in the caucus portion (where organizing was most critical)and ended up winning Texas with the most delegates.

    This time, there is only a primary. I would guess that this is an advantage for Clinton, but we’ll see what happens

    • Jed

      ah, i dind’t see this when i wrote mine.

      texas dp has changed its delegate apportionment arrangement? news to me. now *there’s* an actual scoop.

      that should work in clinton’s favor … just like everything else.

  • I find it interesting as you pointed out, the enthusiasm Texas democrats showed Hillary in ’08. If most states were enthusiastic about Obama, what does that say about democrats in Texas? I doubt they would identify with her as a southerner.

  • bj1650
    • Rules of Blazon

      That was cute.

  • Jed

    “Barack Obama–an explicitly progressive Democrat”

    absolutely not. now i know why you so seldom venture to comment on democrats. obama explicitly ran as the moderate he’s turned out to be. his policy proposals during the 2008 campaign and clinton’s were virtually indistinguishable. he won because of her unfavorables, plain and simple. sanders and obama are not even close ideologically, so the comparison is meaningless. clinton is already moving well left of her 2008 incarnation in order to try and thwart sanders’s momentum.

    i do agree about the texas democrats’ institutional support of clinton. in 2008, it was the source of a lot of strife at the post-primary precinct meetings. but to suggest that “any given Texas Democrat” in texas supports clinton is to simply ignore the actual polling (not to mention the turnout at the precinct caucus meetings in 2008, thanks to which obama ultimately took more delegates from texas than did clinton, which seems like it should have come up in your analysis).

    • Vik Verma

      I would consider both Obama and Clinton to be liberal, and Sanders as far left

  • Rules of Blazon

    I remember some things about 2008 quite well. I’ve never seen as much genuine enthusiasm for a candidate as I did when Obama came on hair-trigger notice and spoke at a rally in Reunion Arena in Dallas in the spring. He filled the place to bursting–there were lines snaking around blocks for this hastily-assembled event, on a weekday morning no less.

    I couldn’t tell you if Hillary every had a rally in Dallas in 2008, though.

    I was more active in Democratic politics in N TX than I am now. Everyone I knew in Dallas and Collin ended up getting on board for Obama.

    I don’t remember the details, and I don’t feel like looking them up, but I could have sworn that TX was a “split decision” in 2008 in that Obama won the caucus and Hillary won the primary, or vice versa. Whatever the reality was, it was awfully close as between the two candidates–that much is beyond dispute.

    This year, everyone I know is for Hillary, with only a couple exceptions presently “feeling the Bern” (whom I expect may soon Bern out).

    There truly isn’t a competitive Democratic primary this year, and I don’t think there will be anything left to decide by the time TX comes up in March. I’ll probably vote in the Republican primary for the most viable candidate standing who will be weakest against Hillary.

    • Jed

      every time i’ve done that (voted republican in a primary) i’ve regretted it.

      • Rules of Blazon

        I’ve never done it, but am almost certain I will this time, as it really seems like the best use of the primary voting opportunity. I will vote for Hillary in the general, of course.

        • Jed

          i voted for mccain in the california primary in 2000, and medina in the texas governor’s primary in 2010. i still have the reg. card stamped “republican” from that one. i think i did it one other time, can’t remember.

          the person i voted for each time didn’t win the primary, and i’m not sure it would have been a good thing if they did. meanwhile, each time i gave up the opportunity to vote in my own primary and influence my own party, not just at the top of the ballot but all the way down. and worst of all, i got the stench of evil on me.

    • Haldave

      With respect to a Hillary rally in Dallas in 2008, I recall that she had at least one scheduled, somewhere in Oak Cliff in a neighborhood. I remember thinking it oddly low key, at the time, but seem to recall that her campaign was running out of gas at that point. The Oak Cliff rally was cancelled when one of the motorcycle cops escorting her motorcade was killed in an accident while on the way to some event. It was a pretty odd and tragic visit.

      • Rules of Blazon

        Your description rings a bell. I had forgotten all about the tragic motorcycle accident.

      • Jed

        i saw bill speak in front of the ut tower in the waning weeks of that primary campaign. great speaker. took my kid (he was three at the time).

        never saw hillary. didn’t really miss her. i still have the edwards magnets on my fridge to prove it.

        that was a funny time in the campaign. her partisans – and the media – kept insisting she was still in it, and that texas was her last chance, but any back of the envelope math said otherwise. even if she had won the texas caucuses, she couldn’t make up enough ground at that point because it wasn’t winner take all. obama was going to get some delegates no matter what. and she didn’t win the caucuses anyway.

        which i suppose is why they got rid of them? i am interested in hearing more about that.

        • Vik Verma

          The DNC rejected the Texas Two-Step. They said it was “confusing”

          • Jed

            indeed. intentionally so, as with everything in texas politics. wouldn’t want the voters to know they weren’t actually choosing the winner.

            bummer. those were some funny meetings.

            so how do texas dems pick delegates to state and national convention now?

          • Vik Verma

            Actually, the Obama campaign out-organized the Clinton campaign, leading to a caucus victory and winning Texas with the most delegates.

            Nothing confusing about that.

            In essence, the Obama campaign beat the Texas Democratic establishment with their own system. That establishment clearly supported Hillary

          • Jed

            right. not confusing to us or the obama campaign.

            infinitely confusing to most voters (and a surprising number of pundits).

          • Vik Verma

            For the voter, it is basically showing up

          • Jed

            remember what we were talking about. when delegates were being apportioned both by the primary AND by the caucus, then it wasn’t enough for voters just to show up, unless they knew enough to show up twice. their votes were being half-valued (or whatever the ratio of delegates apportioned by each method was), and virtually none of them knew it.

            possibly less than half-valued. i went to my precinct meetings in 2004 and 2008. 2008 was remarkable because as you point out the obama campaign got people to go to the meeting that night. in 2004, my wife and i were 2 of 14 people at our precinct meeting. 14. everyone who showed was automatically made a delegate to the county convention – for whomever we wanted to be a delegate for, even if they had gotten no votes that day – because there weren’t as many people at the meeting as the precinct had slots for the convention. so the hundreds (thousands?) who voted at that building that day were eventually trumped by 14 of us.

            i am saying this was done intentionally, it was effectively disenfranchisement, and it worked for those-in-the-know, until it didn’t. once it cost clinton, it makes sense that it went away thereafter.

          • Vik Verma

            Both sides knew the rules. And the two-step wasn’t new in 2008. It had been around for awhile.

            The breakdown was 2/3 of the delegates for the primary and 1/3 for the caucus

    • Vik Verma

      Obama won the caucus and received the most overall delegates in Texas. Which counts as a win

  • Indiana Pearl

    Bernie has passion. The others are boring.

  • omg…this is the best dems have to offer?

  • Rules of Blazon

    Debate wrap up:

    Hillary was excellent – even better than I thought she’d be (and I thought she’d be very good).
    Bernie was better than I thought he’d be (and, having seen him speak live and chatted with him afterward, I didn’t think he’d be all that good).
    Lincoln Chafee seemed uncomfortable at times and had some lame answers (but he was still better than Jeb).
    Jim Webb was surprisingly interesting to me.
    O’Malley was O’kay.

    It was such a stark contrast from the Republican debate. This one was so much more substantial. Part of that was because there were fewer people on stage, but really, the cultures of the two parties are worlds apart. We love our country and all of its people, we want to help everyone have a shot at a good life and are dedicated to getting that done, and that’s all our candidates talked about; but on the Republican side, well, you’ve seen what they do at their debates. Ugh.

    So the winner of the night was Hillary, the dynamics of our race have not changed, and Hillary is well on her way to being our next President.

    • Indiana Pearl

      Adult supervision . . .

    • Jed

      i thought o’malley did better than OK. one of the guys i was watching with became a convert. he certainly didn’t hurt himself, he got in some good digs at both the frontrunners, and he got a lot of screen time just because he was #3.

      i’ll still vote sanders in march, but i thought clinton handled herself well.

      but yeah, the biggest takeaway is that this is what qualified presidential candidates look like, and that at least four of them up there have more to offer than any republican candidate (the other one IS a republican). not even close. if i were a republican, i’d be even more embarrassed than usual.

  • Indiana Pearl
  • You can fool some of the people all the time….yea Bernie!

    “The problem is: Reagan never said such a thing and the series was actually on C-SPAN, not The History Channel. The report seems to have come from NationalReport.net, a spoof news site that has tricked many a politician and news organization in the past. The piece was then posted to a website called DrudgeReport.com.co, which doesn’t seem to be connected to the actual Drudge Report.”
    Read more: http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2015/04/bloomberg-falls-for-fake-nancy-reagan-report-205356#ixzz3oXazujGb

  • Doug Pascover

    I watched some of the debate and was impressed with Hillary. That I was throwing and catching a big pink ball with my little girl while I watched probably led to that conclusion more than any other content.

  • Indiana Pearl
  • Indiana Pearl

    Inevitable?

    • Rules of Blazon

      No. Neither of the Castro brothers yet has the experience to serve as Vice President. I like them both, but choosing either for Veep would be a cynical and ill-advised move.

      • Indiana Pearl

        Lots of media speculation . . . Rubio isn’t much more experienced.

        • Rules of Blazon

          Hillary won’t damage her candidacy with what will be perceived as blatant gimmickry or pandering. No, the Castro brothers are not Sarah Palins–both are bright and very capable politicians–but that is how the media will portray the choice.

          You’re absolutely right about Rubio, though. He’s a petty, churlish, bitter little man who demonstrably lacks the experience or gravitas to serve as President, and would be a disaster if elected. But his candidacy isn’t any kind of a benchmark for our side.

          • Indiana Pearl

            “Dude, I’m not a scientist!”

  • If that is the best dems have to offer then its all Cruz-Fiorina in 2016.

  • Which party most represents the American people? If you vote republican you have a choice with the dems its pretty much all white elitists….

    • Tejasguitarman

      I have seen Bernie work hard for hard working rank & file Americans the 13 years I lived in New Ham’sha.
      Go on & ask Vermont conservatives why they keep voting for him. Republicans are big babies & I know that first hand. Get back in yer Fox hole.

  • donuthin2

    Well, it was certainly more adult than the two prior debates, but admittedly helped by the smaller number of candidates. I liked Bernie in many ways. I think his point of the diminishing middle class is certain a valid concern that needs to be fixed. I also agree that the tax code needs to be updated. It is a paradox that Reagan, with his trickle down Reaganomics, is responsible for much of the problem, though I think dynamics are such that the rich get richer and more in control. I also agree with him that the dollars funneled into campaigns is ugly. I thought Hillary did really well. She came across as smart, informed, good command of her thoughts and actually had a pleasant smile. Not sure what her make-up artist was trying to do but it created a weird look about her cheekbones. She has moved to the left for the primary but will hurry back to the center in the general. I’m not sure who the republicans can nominate that can beat her.

    • Jed

      gramma cheeks.

      • Indiana Pearl

        Why not? We have plenty of grandpa cheeks and turtle necks in the mix.

        • Jed

          i’m not a yuge clinton fan, but it’s not because of her cheeks.

          • Indiana Pearl

            Neither am I, but not because of her appearance.

    • Tejasguitarman

      You can exist on a trickle but that’s about the best you can do.

  • Indiana Pearl

    A theocrat, a failed female CEO, a creationist, and a pup walk into a bar . . .

  • Apparently the DNC’s hand picked shills failed to land a glove on Hillary in the CNN/DNC debates, the dem primary is over. Now all she has to do is name Warren as VP, the “its time for a woman” slogan are printed. Not one vote need be cast as the votes are already counted in the DNC headquarters.
    Then there’s Ted, Carly, Carson and Rubio the real Americans.

  • Apparently the DNC’s hand picked shills failed to land a glove on Hillary in the CNN/DNC debates, the dem primary is over. Now all she has to do is name Warren as VP, the “its time for a woman” slogan are printed. Not one vote need be cast as the votes are already counted in the DNC headquarters.

    Then there’s Ted, Carly, Carson and Rubio the real Americans.

    • Jed

      i don’t think hillary picks warren. i think biden might have, if he had run.

      it would be interesting to see who is on her list and sanders’s. too bad they don’t make that part of the primary campaign.

      • Indiana Pearl

        Not two women . . . Scares old white guys too much.

        • Jed

          OTOH, i may be the only one of those left who votes democrat anyway.

          • Indiana Pearl

            You are not alone . . .

  • Indiana Pearl

    After $4.5 million of taxpayers’ money, all the GOP witch hunt has so far is “wine Wednesdays” and “gun buying clubs.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/12/us/politics/clinton-emails-became-the-new-focus-of-benghazi-inquiry.html

  • If Hillary has nothing to hide why are dems delaying the investigation?

    • Indiana Pearl

      Starting Oct. 22nd at a Fox News station near you . . .

  • “Three months after Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email address and server while secretary of state was referred to the FBI, an intelligence source familiar with the investigation tells Fox News that the team is now focused on whether there were violations of an Espionage Act subsection pertaining to “gross negligence” in the safekeeping of national defense information.”

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/10/16/source-fbi-probe-clinton-email-focused-on-gross-negligence-provision/?intcmp=hpbt1

    When will AG Lynch indict?…..hahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahaha

    • Indiana Pearl

      More Fox propaganda . . .

      Hahahahaha . . .