May 14, 2021

Is Texas Becoming More Republican?


In 2019, Susan Wright and her husband Rep. Ron Wright (R., Texas) participate in his swearing-in ceremony in Congress. Following his death earlier this year, Ms. Wright finished first on Saturday in the special election primary to fill his House seat. She will face fellow Republican Jake Ellzey in a runoff election.



Photo:

Susan Walsh/Associated Press

A Texas congressional district that had been trending leftward in recent elections performed a sudden about-face on Saturday in a special election for a U.S. House seat. Though

Donald Trump

won the state’s sixth district by just three points over

Joe Biden

in November, last weekend none of the Democrats even made it to the finals.

WSJ Joshua Jamerson and Eliza Collins report:

Voters in a Texas House district chose two Republicans to advance to a runoff election, dashing Democratic hopes of picking up a GOP-held seat.

Susan Wright, a GOP activist and the widow of Rep. Ron Wright, who held the seat until his death this year, was the top vote-winner among 23 candidates in a special election Saturday. She will face… Jake Ellzey, also a Republican, who was the second-highest vote-winner…

Mr. Wright died earlier this year at the age of 67, at the start of his second term in the House, after being hospitalized for Covid-19. He was also undergoing cancer treatments.

Republican candidates won more than 60% of the votes cast in the crowded primary, while Democrats won roughly 37%. Democrat Jana Lynne Sanchez, who had finished just nine percentage points behind Ron Wright in the 2018 general election, placed third on Saturday. At least one incumbent U.S. House member is blaming fellow Democrats for not supporting Ms. Sanchez. The Washington Post’s David Weigel and Amy Wang report:

Rep. Ruben Gallego

(D-Ariz.), who leads the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s Bold PAC, said that the district attracted attention only because of Sanchez’s strong 2018 bid and that liberal groups who passed her over only splintered the vote.

“Instead of backing the Latina, in Texas, they splintered our coalition,” Gallego said. “Unfortunately, this happens often. Latino candidates are consistently second-guessed by progressive and Democratic groups. And it is going to have negative consequences come 2022 if they don’t change their process.”

Is the increasingly white Democratic coalition as bigoted as this elected Democrat suggests? Further south in Texas, Jennifer Medina reports for the New York Times on the Latinas who have been moving to the GOP:

Hispanic Republicans, especially women, have become something of political rock stars in South Texas after voters in the Rio Grande Valley shocked leaders in both parties in November by swinging sharply toward the G.O.P. Here in McAllen, one of the region’s largest cities, Mr. Trump received nearly double the number of votes he did four years earlier; in the Rio Grande Valley over all, President Biden won by just 15 percentage points, a steep slide from

Hillary Clinton’s

39-point margin in 2016.

Ms. Medina tells the story of Adrienne Pena-Garza, chair of the Hidalgo County Republican Party and daughter of a former Democratic state legislator:

As was common for most Hispanic families in the area, she said, voting for Democrats was a given. But after her father switched parties in 2010, Ms. Pena-Garza soon followed, arguing that Democrats had veered too far to the left, particularly on issues like abortion and gun control.

“Politics down here did scare me because you didn’t go against the grain,” she said. “If someone’s going to tell you: ‘Oh, you’re brown, you have to be Democrat,’ or ‘Oh, you’re female, you have to be a Democrat’ — well, who are you to tell me who I should vote for and who I shouldn’t?”

Ms. Pena-Garza said she was called a coconut — brown on the outside, white on the inside — and a self-hating Latino, labels that have begun to recede only in recent years as she meets more Hispanic Republicans who, like her, embrace policies that they view as helping small business owners and supporting their religious beliefs…

“You can’t shame me or bully me into voting for a party just because that’s the way it’s always been,” she said.

The shaming may not end anytime soon, given the intolerance of the modern left. But Democrats may be alienating even natural allies as they test the outer limits of entitlement-state expansion. According to Ms. Medina’s report in the Times:

As a child, Mayra Rivera, 42, worked in the fields with her parents, who arrived in the United States through the bracero program, which brought farmworkers to the country from Mexico. When her family struggled financially, she would walk door to door selling cupcakes. The first few times she voted, Ms. Rivera cast her ballot for Democrats. Even now, she said, her politics do not fit in a neat box.

“My family doesn’t come from money, I have friends who are undocumented, I support medical cannabis,” she said. “But I definitely think Democrats are pushing free everything, giving the message that there’s no value in your hard work, and that’s not something I can believe in.”

Who can believe in a party dominated by affluent extremists intent on attacking the traditions that made them affluent? Back in March this column noted:

“Over the last four years, white liberals have become a larger and larger share of the Democratic Party,” says Democratic polling maven David Shor.

In an interview with Eric Levitz of New York magazine, Mr. Shor said:

Democrats gained somewhere between half a percent to one percent among non-college whites and roughly 7 percent among white college graduates (which is kind of crazy). Our support among African Americans declined by something like one to 2 percent. And then Hispanic support dropped by 8 to 9 percent. The jury is still out on Asian Americans. We’re waiting on data from California before we say anything. But there’s evidence that there was something like a 5 percent decline in Asian American support for Democrats… I don’t think a lot of people expected Donald Trump’s GOP to have a much more diverse support base than

Mitt Romney’s

did in 2012. But that’s what happened.

What’s still happening in Texas is that an increasingly diverse coalition of independent-minded American dreamers is moving toward the GOP.

***

Speaking of Mitt Romney, the 2012 presidential candidate received a less than mixed reaction from Utah Republicans last weekend. Bryan Schott and Tony Semerad report in the Salt Lake Tribune:

Sen. Mitt Romney was lustily booed by the more than 2,100 Republican delegates who packed into the Maverik Center on Saturday for the party’s state convention.

“Aren’t you embarrassed?” said Romney trying to deflect the chorus of catcalls that greeted him as he took the stage.

“I’m a man who says what he means, and you know I was not a fan of our last president’s character issues,” said Romney as delegates attempted to shout him down.

The crowd gave a more enthusiastic response to the state’s other senator,

Mike Lee.

According to the Tribune report:

The senator quipped that the Centers for Disease Control — responsible for guiding the nation’s health policies during the pandemic — “was less about disease and more about control.”

***

James Freeman is the co-author of “The Cost: Trump, China and American Revival.”

***

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***

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