Over the weekend, the Texas House finally got to passing our state’s budget for the next two years with less than half of the legislative session left. Of course the House budget is balanced, and will now go to the Senate where more revenues will probably be added to the House’s proposal. For a while I had been hearing concerns from people that our legislature was focusing on everything except the two most important things this sessions – the budget and redistricting. With the budget now out of the House, at least until it is passed in the Senate, legislators will presumably now focus on redistricting since if they fail to do so by the end of the session, it will be handed over to the Legislative Redistricting Board.
With all of the demographic changes in Texas, Latino leaders are hopeful that Latinos will gain more representation in Texas’ congressional delegation and in the Texas legislature. I too hope for this, but I do not think that these organizations pushing for increased representation will get what they’re bargaining for with the Democratic Party. Unfortunately, too many of the organizations that purport to advocate for Latinos are actually just extensions of the far-left and are more beholden to them then to their community.
Furthermore, I believe it is safe to say Democrats in Texas will be forced to protect their incumbents since their numbers have been so minimized. Several of the surviving Democrats in Texas are actually Anglos who represent majority-minority districts, which limits the potential for increased minority representation. Isn’t the Democratic Party supposed to offer opportunity or something like that for minorities? It seems as if over the course of this redistricting process, the party will be forced to sacrifice some minority representation for their own representation.
Fortunately, the Republican Party of Texas has continued to grow after adding two congressmen and six state legislators with Hispanic surnames to its ranks. In addition the party was able to make gains in traditionally Democratic counties with large Latino populations along the border, including Val Verde and Cameron county where I have witnessed this growth of the Republican Party firsthand. With these gains, the Republican Party provides an opportunity for increased representation among Texas’ fastest growing demographic through redistricting.
The conservative message now resonates with more Latinos in Texas, and with our new leaders, our party can continue to reach out to more. There are plenty of conservative Latino leaders in the Republican Party who can grow the party and secure its place in Texas’ political future while increasing the representation of the Latino community. Latinos are traditionally very conservative people and those who have been elected as Republicans have proven to be better representatives than their Democratic colleagues, as illustrated by the Sonogram Bill in which only border Democrats crossed over to aid the Republican-led effort to curb abortions.
With so few members left and with several of them being Anglos representing majority-minority districts, Democrats will ironically be forced to limit the opportunities for Latinos as Texas gains four new congressional seats. On the other hand, the Republican Party of Texas is primed for even more growth as the newly elected Hispanic Republicans prove to their communities that they truly best represent the Latino community. During his 1980 campaign, Ronald Reagan said, “Latinos are Republican. They just don’t know it yet.” And during the course of this legislative session, I believe more will begin to wake up and realize that the Republican Party can offer more representation, not just by sheer number of elected officials, but by the quality of legislation proposed and its positive effects on more Texans.