What did Hispanics do to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to deserve such punitive treatment from him on immigration? What did Texans do to Cruz and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) to deserve their deliberately keeping federal judgeship posts in Texas vacant for partisan reasons, as I stated in my last column?
Texas is indeed going Blue. The only question is when. If Republicans sabotage immigration reform, Texas Democrats may not have to wait for a Hillary Clinton presidential campaign in 2016. Some leaders of the conservative movement and talk radio are mounting a campaign to defeat or destroy the immigration bill, acting in a way that suggests what some Republicans have called “the party of stupid.”
Cruz increasingly resembles Rush Limbaugh, whose extremism hurts Republicans, which does not matter to Limbaugh, so long as it increases his ratings, which it does. Cruz’s opposition to just immigration reform is bad for Texas and bad for Hispanics.
Here is the scenario if Cruz and other rightists succeed in destroying immigration reform: First, Democrats would win a huge and high-turnout majority of Hispanic voters for a generation. There would be talk of a GOP “War on Hispanics” similar to the talk of a GOP “War on Women.” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) understands this. Cruz does not.
The retrograde right does not. The talk radio right, which leads the kamikaze faction of Republicans, increases its ratings in ways that increase the votes for Democrats. Second, I have long argued, and polls have suggested I am right, that Hillary Clinton would have at least a 50-50 chance of carrying Texas’s electoral votes in 2016.
I have also suggested that if Democrats mount strong candidates for governor or senator in 2014, the odds of their winning are approximately 40 percent today.
However, if Republicans sabotage immigration reform, the powerful reaction among Hispanic voters would be so substantial that this alone increases the odds that Democrats carry Texas in 2014 and would make Hillary Clinton a favorite to carry Texas in 2016.
Third, the anti-GOP explosion among Hispanics would dramatically increase the chances that top-tier Texas Democratic candidates run for senator and governor in 2014 because they will know they have a stronger chance of winning.
The future of Texas are leaders like State Sen. Wendy Davis (D), San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro (D), and Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-Texas). It is not Republican governor-for-life Rick Perry (most recently seen attacking nationally respected educators at the University of Texas), Cruz (most recently seen attacking immigration reform), or Cornyn (most recently seen worrying about a GOP primary opponent from friends of Cruz).
The Cruz-promoted, rightist attack on immigration reform puts the squeeze on Cornyn. Does Cornyn support immigration reform, making him vulnerable on the right, or oppose immigration reform, making him anathema to Hispanic voters?
Fourth, all of these patterns are reflected in electorally important states beyond Texas. Florida creates deep jeopardy for the GOP. Hillary Clinton already clobbers Jeb Bush and Rubio in 2016 polling. GOP Gov. Rick Scott is almost as unpopular among Florida voters as the bird flu. Voters in New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and other states are watching the immigration debate closely.
Fifth, would you want to be an incumbent GOP House member representing a large Hispanic population running for reelection as the candidate of the party that destroyed immigration reform? Immigration alone could turn three to eight House seats blue in 2014.
Texas Democrats benefit from high-octane, future statewide Democratic candidates such as Davis and the Castro brothers. These are very dynamic and successful leaders with brilliant political futures. They and other Democrats like them are the future of Texas.
If the GOP sabotages immigration reform, that future begins now.
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