AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Democratic presidential contenders are targeting Texas this week, ahead of Thursday’s debate in Houston.
Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, who was also San Antonio’s Mayor, hosts a town hall in Houston on Monday. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren will speak in Austin on Tuesday. South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg will be fundraising in Dallas on Friday, and former El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke will fund raise in Dallas on Sunday.
Former Vice President Joe Biden is expected to announce a handful of events in North Texas over the weekend.
That’s all in addition to Thursday’s three-hour debate, involving 10 candidates.
“Folks are having the realization that Texas is the biggest battleground state in the country,” Texas Democratic Party deputy executive director Cliff Walker said.
“We’ve got so many new voters here in our state, either folks who have moved into Texas, or people who are aging into the electorate, and this is an opportunity for these people to really get a sense of what Democrats are standing for and what they are saying,” Walker said.
The Texas Democratic Party revealed more on Monday about its strategy to flip the state in 2020, building on perceived momentum in the last election.
Party leaders are aiming to woo 2.6 million unregistered voters to vote blue in 2020. Additionally, there are 2.4 million more “registered but non-voting” Texans from minority communities (African-American, Hispanic, and Asian American and Pacific Islander) who were registered to vote in 2018 but did not cast a ballot. The party’s plan indicates those voters are “primed to be mobilized to vote in a presidential year.”
“We have to start making those investments now and as we do we have to make sure that people know we have a plan, they are a part of that plan.” Walker explained.
The coordinated effort also includes hiring several hundred field organizers across the state to engage voters, block-walk and phone bank, in addition to volunteers working on similar actions.
“Right now we’re in the process of hiring folks on the ground,” Walker said. “We’ve got several that are already placed, but by the time it’s done I can say with confidence we’ll have 1000 organizers on the ground, knocking doors.”
While liberals in the state are energized, no Democrat has won statewide in Texas since 1994.
“The policies are unaffordable and unhelpful for advancing the future of all Texans, and we hope that people will recognize that,” Texas GOP chairman James Dickey said, as Texas Republicans are also preparing for 2020.
“As the Democratic candidates are running around Texas they are making it even more obvious to every day Texans how extremist their views are and how unrepresentative their views are of Texans,” Dickey said.
The state’s Republican party launched a Volunteer Engagement Project, to enact “nuts-and-bolts party building such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts for the 2020 election cycle.” The party has hosted campaign training events of its own at the local and state levels.
“We know Texans have seen how Republican policies have made for a wonderful life for all Texans and we are very confident that will continue in 2020,” he explained.
Mason Carroll contributed to this report.