Monday, December 18, 2006

Turning Tarrant County Blue II

It's an encouraging sign when even prominent Tarrant County Republicans admit to the likelihood that Tarrant County will eventually be turned back to the Democrats:
The reality is that their first big win in 20 years didn't advance their political agenda by very much and they needed the help of a Dallas group to do even that. Can the party really be hanging its hopes on a win in a race when there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between the candidates?

Yes, but not as soon as Brender is predicting, said Tarrant County Criminal Court Judge Daryl Coffey. "The idea of the Democrats taking back the county in two years or even four is totally unrealistic" he said. "There are still too many solid Republican precincts," he said. Nonetheless, the lifelong Republican believes that a Democratic takeover is probable in about 15 years, due primarily to the fast-growing Hispanic population and the traditional pendulum swing of politics in this country.

As to the growth in the hispanic population:
"...if the Democrats are to be successful", Arlington writer and LULAC activist Richard Gonzales said, the first order of the day must be the Latino voter. To win back the county, "the Democrats need to help Latino candidates get into office. ... Too often, the Democrats have asked the Latinos for their support but have not reciprocated. ... Time and demographics are on the Latino side. It's foolish for Anglos to resist the change in who will be calling the political shots in the near future."

The Republicans, Gonzales said, will never be the Latinos pals. There is now too much bitterness over immigration issues. "Until moderate Repubs take over the party and start reversing English-only proposals, the [border] wall strategy, and enforcement-only legislation, [Republicans] will not succeed in wooing Latinos in large numbers."
That seems highly unlikely, seeing as how the Republican "base" is still comprised mostly of people like this. But it's not only Hispanics that are helping to turn the tide:

The rapid growth of the Hispanic population here is the most obvious factor in the Democrats favor, but there is another that's gone unreported, Brender said the Alliance airport development in far north Fort Worth. A significant number of the firms that have moved into Alliance in the past decade, he said, are union companies. There's been a big jump in union membership in the county, especially in the northern suburbs, and most of that is thanks to Ross [Perot] Jr.'s development. "I don't think that's what he intended", Brender added with a laugh, "but it's gonna help us take back the county."
Every little bit helps.

Clearly, Tarrant County Democrats lost an opportunity this cycle by failing to run candidates in the vast majority of races in Tarrant County and taking advantage of the huge anti-Republican sentiment that swept the country. But the Republican party remains nationally as divided as ever, and it would be imprudent to imagine that the political situation will be all that different in 2008. There will be no big sweep, but there will nonetheless be an opportunity to make decent, incremental gains, here and around the country. Tarrant County Dems would be making a mistake to miss that opportunity, but judging by what they say in this column, it seems unlikely that they will.


adam said...

What's funny about the Republicans' anti-illegal immigration rhetoric is that not only does it most certainly hurt them politically in the long-term, it didn't even help them in the short-term!

Xanthippas said...

Too true, but it does accurately reflect their base, and so they'll have some difficulty separating it from themselves and courting the Hispanic vote, as they say they must.