Texas in 2020?
Moving toward the democratic primaries, two young members of the party from Texas are campaigning for president. Although Texas has traditionally fallen as guaranteed win for the republicans, more and more democrats from Texas are emerging into the national media spotlight. This began in 2018 with Beto O’Rourke challenging the incumbent Ted Cruz for a seat in the Senate. From this, some are starting to see Texas, the former Republican stronghold, move more in the direction of a swing state in coming elections. Mirroring this, two candidates from Texas, Julián Castro and Beto O’Rourke, are running for the democratic nomination. If either were to win it would make them the third president from Texas. However, both candidates differ greatly from the two Texans who have occupied the office they are campaigning for previously. Neither embody the progressive attitudes of LBJ and the Great Society or the modern conservatism of George H. W. Bush.
These two candidates walk a fine line between the mainstream interests of the Democratic Party, the traditional values of Texas, and the emerging Latino voice in the State of Texas. At this early stage in the election cycle it appears that Julián Castro and Beto O’Rourke are focused more on fundraising. This creates an early competition within the Democratic field, both candidates wanting to be the voice of the party in their home state of Texas. Castro presents on his website that his campaign has already locked in the support of Texas democrats. In this article on his website he boasts the support of thirty three elected democrats within the State of Texas. This shows a very party centric attitude in which the support he is claiming is not from the voters but instead form the party elites. This differs from Beto where he is trying to make his campaign appear as if it was very much supported by the people, labeling his campaign a “grassroots movement”. He shows this more explicitly with his slogan “We Are All In This Together”. However Castro has also moved to improve his image amongst voters by pledging to visit all 50 states in his campaign. With his family’s immigrant backstory and his latino identity Democrats are also beginning to see Castro as a more unifying candidate in the 2020 presidential ticket (Mercia CNN). This point is emphasized with his slogan “For the Future” stressing the importance of unity amongst all Americans.
On the issues, Castro has listed more of his views on his website. He shows his opposition for the President’s policy on immigration and the wall. He has also taken a clear stance on the justice system as well as police brutality. Beto is yet to list any specific issues on his website however he has covered these topics previously in his 2018 Senate campaign. In 2018 Beto addressed these issues, however, he took a more moderate stance likely to be able to appeal to swing voters in a Texas general election. On his website Castro lists his experience in the executive branch serving as President Obama’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Currently it seems as if Beto is carrying his name recognition from his failed 2018 Senate election. This experience has provided significant media attention compared to Castro. However, Beto has also had to contend with his initial claims from 2018 where he said that he currently had no other job ambitions outside of the Senate(CBS).
Despite their differences both candidates are going heavily for a person to person relationship with their constituents. These two young candidates have strived to conduct their campaign in a very personal manner of reaching out to voters. Alongside other candidates they have attempted to distance themselves from PACS instead opting to show the image of a grassroots campaign. This tactic is due in part to the success and acclaim of Bernie Sanders with young Democrats in the 2016 election. Both Castro and Beto have a long election cycle ahead of them with a Democratic field that only seems to grow bigger. There is much more campaigning to be done and the fight for campaign funding is only just the beginning. In order for either to become a strong national contender in the 2020 election, one must first win the support of their fellow Texans.
“Beto O’Rourke Isn’t Running for Senate, Says He’s ‘Made a Decision’ about Future.” CBS
News, CBS Interactive,
Merica, Dan. “Iowa Democrats Have Struggled to Organize Latinos. Julián Castro Is Trying to
Change That.” CNN, Cable News Network, 3 Mar. 2019,
Ramsey, Ross. “Analysis: A Potential Texas Shootout inside the 2020 Presidential Race.” The
Texas Tribune, Texas Tribune, 14 Dec. 2018,