Hidalgo County, in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, is staunch Democratic turf — but notice anyone missing from this Democratic party mailer just sent out to Precinct 4 voters?
All politics may be local, but the absence of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis is, well, conspicuous. Here is the party’s explanation, per the local Monitor:
“Because of the large number of candidates, both statewide and countywide, we were just unable to fit all candidates while still focusing on our local candidates,” county Democratic Chair Ric Godinez wrote in an email. “For example, to highlight Gaitan (who runs only in Precinct 4) we had to sacrifice space for one of the statewides. Because Battleground Texas was pushing Sen. Davis primarily with plenty of literature, we felt we could get more coverage and bang for our buck for the entire Democratic Ticket (you will notice even in this piece, as in all our pieces, we are encouraging voters to make a straight party vote) while focusing on our local candidates in that precinct.”
Even Texas Monthly — which, recall, made Wendy Davis its August 2013 cover girl — senses defeatism in the South Texas air:
That’s a reasonable justification, on its face. It’s unlikely many Democrats enter the voting booth in Hidalgo County or elsewhere in the state unaware of who is running for Governor or if they intend to vote for her. But it’s also not a great look for a party that is trying to prove that this race is different from the number of failed attempts to claim the Governor’s Mansion that Democrats in Texas have endured in the past twenty years. You want people to conclude that there’s excitement on a statewide level, especially in the bluest of blue areas, not that the consensus is, “Ah, everybody already knows about her, let’s talk the Precinct 4 constable!”
Republican Greg Abbott, meanwhile, said in September, “I think we have a legitimate shot at either winning the Rio Grande Valley” or coming close, and he has knocked on doors in regions where Republican votes are about as rare as snow. “In Hidalgo County,” the Texas Tribune reports, “no Republican has won a countywide elected post in the modern era.” But Davis lost Hidalgo and nearby counties to Corpus Christi municipal judge Ray Madrigal in the Democratic primary, even though Madrigal went on to lose the nomination by 56 points. Abbott hopes that endorsements from, among others, several South Texas mayors, will offer a boost, if not turning the area red, at least giving it a rare purple hue. Davis is still likely to carry the region (though her statewide performance might be Madrigal-esque), but the win will be strictly on account of the (D) next to her name.