HOUSTON (KXAN) — Eight presidential candidates swung through the state’s biggest city, arguably the country’s most diverse, to make their case to women of color, important base voters in the Democratic primary.
Billed as the first Presidential forum dedicated to women of color, the eight Democratic Presidential candidates answered questions at the “She the People” Forum at Houston’s Texas Southern University.
Some of the top issues raised Wednesday were: getting voting rights to people in jail, raising the minimum wage, and making sure affordable housing is available.
One of Five voters in democratic Presidential voters is a woman of color, according to the founder of “She the People,” Aimee Allison.
Women of color are 25% of the voters in the crucial swing states of Texas, Florida, and Georgia, according to Allison, while women of color also have an influential role in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Ohio.
The number of candidates highlights a changing political landscape in Texas, where internal and public polls, attitudes, and staffing decisions show Texas is no longer a Republican stronghold, but a realistic pick up for Democrats in 2020. Women of color will be a key voting block to flip the state blue.
Cory Booker, Julian Castro, Tulsi Gabbard, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren are slated to attend the event. Castro is the former Mayor of San Antonio and HUD Secretary. O’Rourke is a former Congressman and former U.S. Senate candidate.
The moderators asked every candidate an ending question: why should women of color pick you?
“I have a track record of getting things done for vulnerable communities, especially women of color and that is exactly what I will do when I’m elected president of the United States,” said Julian Castro, touting his past roles as Mayor of San Antonio and HUD Secretary.
“There is a long history of work that I have done including my mentorship of young women of color in politics and in the professions and I would stake my reputation in terms of what I will do going forward based on what I have done and I believe that you can judge me that way,” said Sen. Kamala Harris.
When it comes to groups of voters, women of color are numerous enough to be important – ut to sway the outcome? People at the event said — absolutely.
“Black voters, in particular, black women, have been taken for granted by — I would say — the entire political establishment,” said Carol McDonald, who traveled to the event from Washington D.C.
McDonald told KXAN this segment of the population is now too large to ignore and that’s why you have eight candidates showing up in Houston for votes.
“These candidates need to pay attention, they need to listen, they need to learn,” said McDonald.
Last year Democrats were less than 3 percentage points from taking a statewide post. Early public polls have the state neck and neck, much of that change comes from new voters of color teaming up with women from the suburbs.
Tory Gavito from Way to Win is a sponsor of She the People and told KXAN “to win they have to bring new voters into the ballot box, registering new voters, young people, people of color. Folks that have sat on the sidelines.”