As Democratic enthusiasm rises nationwide ahead of November's midterm elections, many in Texas are hoping a "blue wave" will sweep more Democratic candidates into office. But state Rep. Ina Minjarez said Tuesday that her party can't rely solely on that trend if it wants to turn Texas blue.
“Texas is a different animal," Minjarez said. "Democrats, especially Texas Democrats, can’t assume that what’s happened in the country is going to happen here. We cannot take it for granted, we can’t assume and lay back and say this blue wave is coming.”
Minjarez, along with Rep. Roland Gutierrez and Sen. Jose Menéndez, all of whom are San Antonio Democrats, shared their thoughts on the election — as well as issues ranging from public education funding to predictions for the next legislative session — during a panel conversation with Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith in San Antonio.
Without a “blue wave,” how will Democrats fare in November’s elections?
Instead of relying on the “blue wave,” Minjarez said Texas Democrats need to make voters understand government touches every part of their lives and encourage constituents to come out to the polls.
Minjarez predicted Democrats will pick up anywhere from six to eight seats in the Texas House this fall, an estimate Gutierrez agreed with.
Menéndez said Democratic candidates need to run on more than just opposition to President Donald Trump.
“I think that’s just a weak way to run," he said. "You’ve got to run on issues, you’ve got to run on what you’re going to do.”
The panelists also said Democrats can’t take the Latino vote for granted this election cycle.
Gutierrez said higher Latino voting turnout is essential to help Democrats win those seats but that he doesn’t know what keeps Latino communities from the polls. Menéndez said he believes more Latinos and younger people will vote in this election cycle due to issues like the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and the “zero tolerance” immigration policy.
“The Latino vote is just like every other vote,” Menéndez said. “You just have to talk to people on what the issues are and how they affect their family.”
Gutierrez confirms state Senate run
Gutierrez, who is currently a state representative, confirmed he is running for Texas Senate District 19. That seat is currently held by Sen. Carlos Uresti, a San Antonio Democrat who was convicted of 11 felonies in February. Uresti has resisted calls to resign, and there isn’t an election planned for the seat until 2020.
During the panel, Gutierrez said he thinks Uresti will go to prison, which would make him ineligible to serve in the Legislature.
“Everyone of us can go down a wrong path or have a mistake,” he said. “It is apparent that that’s what happened here.”