Texans want change

DALLAS—Three days before he was even expected to arrive, Barrack Obama’s campaign turned out 1,500 at a rally in Fair Park. It was the third rally of over 1,000 in the previous week. Hillary Clinton, who started working Texas voters with a giant rally in El Paso, has also turned out tremendous crowds as she worked the predominantly Latino southern part of the state.

The Rio Grande Valley is 86.6 percent Hispanic. The state as a whole has 35.7 percent Hispanics, 11.4 percent African Americans, 3.3 percent Asians, and 48.1 percent are white, according to a Dallas newspaper. The Texas prize is 228 delegates. The candidate has to win more than the popular vote, because Texas delegates also come from the declarations of precinct delegates as well as categories of at-large delegates, and super delegates.

A small crew of Obama staffers arrived in Texas after Clinton started her grand tour of the South and about the same time that husband Bill Clinton began touring East Texas, which has a population very much like his native Arkansas. Volunteers and endorsements began to fly. Senator Obama surprised many with major newspaper endorsements. Political leaders, including a number of Spanish-speaking state reps spoke up for him. State Representatives Roberto Alonzo and Rafael Anchia of Dallas made their choice clear.

The debonair Anchia, highly regarded both by Latinos and white liberals, wrote an op-ed in the Dallas newspaper for Obama. He pointed out that Latino voters had given big majorities to African American candidates in the recent past, and that there was no reason to imply race-based reasons for becoming Clinton supporters. He wrote, “I am the Latino son of immigrants, but, rather than engaging in the contrived politics of division, I want Barack Obama, a black man of mixed ethnicity, to be my president. How’s that for the politics of hope?”

The Mexican American Democrats (MAD) endorsed Obama February 16. Roberto Alonzo explained to the February 17 rally that Obama had made substantial programmatic commitments to win the Latino vote. For example, he took a stand on one of the most important issues to Texas Latinos when he declared in favor of drivers’ licenses for undocumented workers.

Texas had a big Democratic primary turnout of 1.8 million in 2006, and they are predicting larger turnouts this year. With a population of 23 million, and reports of new voters appearing at the rallies, Texas might expect to see records set in 2008.