I have been sharing my thoughts on the midterm elections with various national, state, and local media outlets.
Here is what I told Fox News about Joe Biden's closing message:
"I think his message is tone-deaf and out of touch, especially with working-class voters and independents," Steinhauser told Fox News Digital. "He’s still relatively popular with the Democratic base, but that’s it. With independent and swing voters, he’s a liability not an asset."
Below is my interview with The Texas Standard, which aired on NPR stations across the state last night.
I appeared on Spectrum News Texas to discuss the upcoming elections. We talked about the campaigns for governor and lieutenant governor here in Texas. Watch below!
I joined Andrew Wilkow on his show to discuss the 2022 elections, the latest polling, and the big issues of the day. Check it out!
I spoke to The Lost Angeles Times about the prospect of actor Matt McConaughey running for governor of Texas. As much as I care about public policy and ideas, I don't think these are necessarily the keys to winning a statewide election. Personality can often trump policy. We shall see if McConaughey runs, and if so, whether he can pull it off or not. Below is what I told the newspaper about McConaughey's potential appeal to voters.
“Personality trumps policy,” he said, likening McConaughey to former President Trump or Jesse Ventura, the former professional wrestler turned governor of Minnesota. “I’m not sure how important specific stances will be to a general election audience when you have someone like Matt McConaughey running. These celebrity candidates have a different appeal.”
Remembering September 11, 2001
I vividly remember the morning of September 11th, 2001. I was a sophomore at The University of Texas at Austin, sitting in Spanish class when a classmate received a phone call from a friend who was very upset. My classmate was trying to console her friend on the other line, and telling her that she would help her make arrangements and communicate to her professors. It was an odd conversation, and when the call ended I asked my classmate, "What was that all about?" She responded, "That was Jenna Bush, she's being taken somewhere by the secret service and she doesn't really know where." I had a blank stare on my face because I had not seen the news yet. My classmate said, "Didn't you see that the World Trade Center in New York was attacked?" I said that I had not seen that. And I knew that my classmate was friends with the president's daughter, but I had never given much thought to what would happen to her in a security situation, much less a national security situation. It was a surreal way to find out about the September 11th terrorist attacks, to say the least.
My mind couldn't focus on the quiz we were about to take. I had followed Islamist terrorism more closely than most people, and I had heard of al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. I remembered the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa and the 2000 attack against the USS Cole. (I would later become friends with the Cole's commander, Kirk Lippold)
As I sat there that morning in Spanish class, I was shocked that bin Laden would be able to attack our homeland in such a devastating way, especially that he could hit the Pentagon -- the center of the most powerful military in the world. Needless to say, I didn't do very well on that quiz, which the professor kindly threw out. After class, I walked to the Geology building at UT, where there was a television set up. A small group of students and professors was watching the latest news. Then, I made my way to the student union, where hundreds of students typically gathered each day for lunch, to study, or to watch the TV's there. As I made my way across the campus, I would hear little bits of information along the way. Everyone was talking about the attacks, and I remember hearing things like, "There is another plane in the air somewhere" and "There might be more attacks".
I made it to the student union and the place was jam-packed with a huge crowd, glued to the TV's. Everyone watched in silence as the news anchors and reporters updated the world on the attacks and the statements from government officials. I watched for a while and then went to call my parents. My Mom was pretty upset and a bit worried about my safety. I told her that I felt pretty safe in Austin, and that the most likely targets would be federal government buildings, monuments, and the seats of national power. But I understand why every Mom and Dad was worried that day. It was chilling to the core.
For the next week or so we were all glued to the news. I watched for hours on end. I was sad, angry, and proud of my country at the same time. 911 had a profound impact on me. I became more engaged in campus debates about the nature of the attacks, terrorism itself, and American foreign policy. I became outraged by some on the far left who denigrated the country while making the terrorists look like some kind of heroes. I changed my major to government and started taking classes on international relations at UT. I became heavily involved in The Young Conservatives of Texas group at UT, and participated in campus debates with the UT socialist club and the campus Democrats.
I spent a lot of time in college from then on engaging in all kinds of political activities, and debating with friends, professors, and political adversaries. All of these things steered me toward moving to Washington, DC, choosing politics and government as a career, and working on my graduate degree in Statecraft and International Affairs from The Institute of World Politics in DC. I had always had an interest in civic engagement and politics, but 911 made it more important to me, more real, and more urgent. I spent nearly eight years in DC, met my future wife there, laid the foundation for my career, and met some wonderful, patriotic people along the way.
After moving home to Texas in late 2012, I remained engaged in the debates surrounding national security and international affairs. I worked with Members of Congress, national think tanks, and veterans groups. I've worked with a number of clients who served in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, including Navy SEALs, Green Berets, and Army Rangers. I have advised the Chairman of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee and have guest lectured at my graduate school, IWP. I've also taught an undergraduate course on Global Issues at St. Edward's University.
The 911 attacks and their aftermath truly affected me, and put me on a path that I am still on, twenty years later. I am sure that many other people have similar stories and experiences to share. One thing we all have in common is that we love our country, we will always defend it against those who would destroy it, and we will never, ever, forget the people who lost their lives on September 11th, 2001.
Mask Mandates in Texas
I recently interviewed with The New York Times to discuss the issue of mask mandates in Texas. Local, county, state, and federal officials are sparring over whether to mandate that people wear masks in public. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has issued a statewide executive order banning local or county governments from imposing a mask mandate. The issue has become yet another hot-button topic regarding Covid-19, and how best to prevent the spread of the virus. I shared my observations from here in Austin with the Times in this piece, published on August. 11th, 2021.
I recently spoke to Paul Steinhauser of Fox News (no relation, but a great guy) about the campaign for Governor of Texas in 2022. Many political observers are watching the race closely, inside and outside of Texas. Below are some of my comments in the article.
Veteran Austin-based Republican strategist Brendan Steinhauser told Fox News that "I think the only downside of not going to CPAC is that it gives Allen West and Don Huffines the ability to launch attacks on Gov. Abbot that go unanswered."
But Steinhauser, a veteran of the Tea Party movement who later steered campaigns for two top Lone Star State Republicans - Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and Rep. Dan Crenshaw – said that "all of the data so far points to the idea that Abbott’s not in serious trouble right now."
Pointing to the governor’s approval ratings among Texas Republicans, his support from Trump, and his massive campaign war chest, he said that Abbott’s "currently on pretty solid ground...We’ll see if any of these guys get any traction. I’m not a betting man but I don’t think I would bet today that he’s going to lose."
I recently appeared on The Texas Standard, a statewide radio program featured on NPR stations around Texas. I spoke about the upcoming special legislative session in Austin, and the issues that might come up. Click here to listen to the interview.
I shared my thoughts on the Texas AG race with Allan Smith of NBC News.
Brendan Steinhauser, a Texas Republican strategist, described Bush's bid as "kind of risky."
"In politics, you have to look for opportunities," he said. "But I'm a little surprised he didn't hang in there as land commissioner and then maybe run for governor, or attorney general down the line. But I guess he sees a vulnerability."
"The energy for him, in his view, is to bring integrity back to the AG's office," Steinhauser added. "I think that's a winning message, potentially, for him and for his lane, and for folks that want to support somebody else. But again, he's got an uphill climb. And if he doesn't win, you can kind of wonder, 'OK, well, what would be the next move?"
CNN interview on Texas politics
This week, I interviewed with CNN about Texas politics and government. I was asked about the conservative agenda being pursued in the Texas Legislature, and what created the opportunity to pursue such an agenda. Please watch the clip and share it!
My graduate school, The Institute of World Politics, mentioned my recent commission in the Texas State Guard. I appreciate their support and encouragement, especially that of Derrick Dortch, who encouraged me to join the Guard. Below is the article.
Brendan Steinhauser (’13) has had quite a few achievements in his career thus far: He has been recognized by Time magazine as one of “40 Under 40 Rising Stars;” he and his wife have co-founded their own successful public relations, government affairs, and political consulting business; and he has been teaching on the faculty of St. Edward’s University. This year, he has taken on a very new experience: he has recently completed Officer Candidate School (OCS) for the Texas State Guard (TXSG).
What inspired him to serve in this way, in mid-career when his hands are already full?
In 2017, Hurricane Harvey came through his home state of Texas. “It was devastating,” remembers Brendan. “I had a lot of family, friends, and acquaintances who were impacted by it. I know folks who rescued people on boats and drove buses to get evacuees out of harm’s way. My wife and I helped with food banks.”
This experience prompted Brendan to think seriously about engaging in some sort of service to his community. After considering volunteering for the Red Cross, he and his wife had twins. After two years of domestic chaos, Brendan again contemplated serving in some way.
“As I began to think about different experiences that I wanted in my life and didn’t have, the military was high on the list,” said Brendan. The problem was that he was in the middle of his career with three kids: active duty and being away from his family for a long deployment did not seem like an attractive option.
He decided to reach out to Derrick Dortch, IWP’s Career Director: “I always found Derrick to be helpful to other IWP students, and I watched him make himself available to anyone who asked. I figured he would be the best person to help navigate my options with regard to the military, but also to help me figure out generally how to serve in the wake of the pandemic, civil unrest, and other challenges.”
After understanding what Brendan wanted to do, Derrick suggested the Texas State Guard and helped Brendan navigate the process. Brendan commented, “I am appreciative of Derrick for his counsel and his advice. It says a lot about him and about IWP that he took the time to work with me, even though I got my degree in 2013. He was extremely helpful throughout the process. It means a lot to me.”
After enduring walks through winter water and crawling through freezing mud, Brendan graduated from OCS first in his class in academics. He commented, “The IWP education helped prepare me for OCS in terms of the reading I had already done about leadership and statesmanship, including about good and bad leaders in history. In OCS, we researched and wrote papers on military leaders and studied the philosophy of leadership. I also went in with some knowledge of how the military operates. There were some surprises along the way, but studying military history and the role of the military in a free society at IWP contributed to my understanding of how it operates.”
The TXSG OCS that Brendan experienced is modeled on the Army OCS at Ft. Benning, and the training and headquarters are located right near Brendan’s home in Austin. He was able to complete OCS without dropping the ball in his day job, where he advises political candidates, elected officials, nonprofits, and individuals on political and public affairs issues. “My clients were very understanding during OCS,” said Brendan. “They were congratulatory and appreciative.”
Brendan’s next step with the TXSG is to rotate to different departments within headquarters to get exposed to the work that they do, including personnel, communications, shelter building, and the Texas Emergency Tracking Network. They will probably also be helping distribute vaccines. Soon Brendan will get his first assignment to a unit. “There is no shortage of work to be done in Texas,” said Brendan.
When asked whether a State Guard would be a good option for other IWP graduates, Brendan said, “Without a doubt, especially for those of us who are in a stage of life with a family and full-time work obligations, but a desire to serve in the military. It can be hard at times with the training and deployment, but you can make it work.”
The Texas State Guard
This weekend, I became a Second Lieutenant in the Texas State Guard. I received my commission at Camp Mabry in Austin with seven of my Officer Candidate School classmates. About eight months ago I enlisted in the Guard in order to serve Texas in times of natural disasters, emergency response, and homeland security. The pandemic and civil unrest were stark reminders to me that I needed to serve my community, state, and country in times of need. I decided that state military service was a great way to do that.
The training that we received was intense, but also a lot of fun. I trained for and passed the Army Physical Fitness Test, learned a lot about military leadership, and picked up new skills like land navigation and search and rescue techniques. OCS culminated in a 24-hour mission in near-freezing temperatures without sleep, very little food and water, and lots of physical and mental obstacles along the way. The training was tough, but very rewarding. I learned a lot about myself, especially since I decided to enlist at the age of 39. I am very excited to receive my assignment, continue training, and to lead troops in the field.
I am grateful to my entire family for all of their support and encouragement along the way, especially
Randan Marie Steinhauser. She was my rock throughout this process, and was patient with me and my new commitments. My Dad, Mike Steinhauser, pinned my new rank, and SFC
Brent Connett rendered my first salute as a 2LT. Derrick Dortch encouraged me to look into the Guard, and provided invaluable advice and guidance from day one. I could not have completed OCS without the support from these individuals, my seven classmates, and the entire TXSG OCS cadre. I am very grateful to all of you!
I spoke recently with The Dallas Morning News about what to expect in Texas government and politics in 2021. Below are a few of my quotes.
On Covid-19 restrictions in the Texas Capitol:
“This will make it even harder for the public to engage in the legislative process,” he said. “If you’re an activist on any given topic it’ll be harder for you to have an impact.”
On the limited revenue outlook for the 2021 legislative session:
“Everybody’s fighting over less money,” he said. “Texas is growing tremendously. We have a lot of needs for our people. Infrastructure, education, health care. Our list goes on and on and on.”
“It’s about power. It’s a long-term thing,” Steinhauser said. “It’s a way for Republicans to solidify gains over the next decade.”
On the prospect of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott making moves toward a presidential campaign in 2024:
“It’s never too early to start thinking about that,” Steinhauser said. “If we watch closely and observe carefully, we’ll start seeing Abbott and [Texas Sen. Ted] Cruz and others interested in running in the future take a hard look at things, raise money, perhaps make some trips to Des Moines, Manchester, Concord, Columbia, Charleston.”
Podcast interview with George Seay
I joined George Seay on his podcast "Seay the Future" to talk about life, business, and politics. George is a friend and client who is a very successful businessman in Dallas. He has a sharp mind, and asks great questions. Listen to the episode and let me know what you think about it.
I sat down recently with Luke Macias, a conservative operative here in Texas, to discuss the 2020 election, and what it means for the country and the state. Luke hosts a podcast called "The Luke Macias Show" and he invited me on to break down what happened and why. We certainly did our best to analyze the results, but there were some surprises on election night. Click here to watch the podcast interview.
I am always proud to see coverage of the campaign I led for Senator John Cornyn in 2014. Here is a good article in The Houston Chronicle about the campaign, and how unique it was. We had a lot of success winning over Hispanic and Asian voters in Texas due to our innovative outreach efforts.
As U.S. Sen. John Cornyn launched his last re-election campaign, his campaign manager, Brendan Steinhauser, remembers the senator telling him: “If the Republican Party looks like me in the future…we’re not going to be able to survive.” Cornyn spent the next several months not worrying about the Democrat running against him — who he easily defeated — but instead trying to diversify his base, running ads on TV and radio in five different languages, sending campaign staff to naturalization ceremonies, Holi festivals and more.
The efforts drew national attention, and there’s evidence they worked. Exit polls show Cornyn narrowly won the Hispanic vote, closing what had once been a 20-percentage point gap.
I recently shared my experience donating blood plasma in order to fight COVID-19. My wife and I were sick back in March and April, but recovered over time. After doing so, I was urged by my cousin Annie, who is a nurse in Austin, to donate blood plasma. The antibodies in my blood are being used to treat COVID-19 patients. I've agreed to support We Are Blood's efforts to get more people to donate their blood plasma. Here is a recent TV interview that I did on the subject.
Recent attacks on The Epoch Times have made it nearly impossible for me to stay silent on why I have chosen to work with their team. Last summer my firm, Steinhauser Strategies, was hired by The Epoch Times to help build their brand and increase their influence among conservatives who share their values of truth and tradition.
I was somewhat familiar with The Epoch Times from my time in Washington, D.C. where I would see their newspaper in bins at metro stops throughout the city. I knew that they were virulently anti-communist, were founded by survivors of the Tiananmen Square massacre, and were advocates for religious liberty in China. I was excited to provide strategic advice, open some doors, and make connections for this group so that they could increase their influence in the White House, in Congress, and in the conservative movement.
Over the past year, The Epoch Times has had tremendous success becoming part of the conservative movement as a media group. I attribute this to a few different factors: their values of truth and tradition, their anti-communist stance, their passion and unparalleled work ethic, hiring talented people, and investing in online marketing.
Given this success, and the fact that the Chinese Communist Party sees them as an existential threat, I am not surprised that MSNBC hosts like Rachel Maddow and Ali Velshi are attempting to discredit them. It is interesting, however, to note the similarities between the progressive hosts' attacks and those of the communist regime in Beijing.
It is unfortunate that MSNBC is essentially parroting the regime's propaganda against the media group, as well as the tens of millions of practitioners of Falun Gong. Especially given the fact that former Chinese dictator Hu Jintao stated that Falun Gong practitioners should be eradicated. It does make me wonder who is providing the attack lines to the media about The Epoch Times, although I believe it has become rather clear.
Any and every American that believes in freedom of expression, free speech, religious liberty, and classical liberal values should stand with political and religious dissidents that uphold and practice these values. As mentioned above, some of the founders of The Epoch Times were survivors of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, and were arrested and tortured. They fled to the one place in the world where they knew that they would be free and safe to practice their faith tradition, speak out about the evils of communism, and uphold traditional values. I am sure they did not expect to be targeted so viciously by one of the biggest media companies in America.
With the regime in Beijing cracking down on the religious liberty of Christians, Muslims, and Falun Gong practitioners in China, and as it sends troops to the border with Hong Kong and threatens violence there, one would think that the mainstream media would be focusing its attention and criticism on the real threat to freedom and democracy: the communist government in Beijing. But instead, at this very moment, MSNBC is trying to take down a media group and a spiritual community that may pose a threat to the regime in the form of encouraging a billion Chinese and millions of Chinese expatriates to think for themselves, speak out against communism and authoritarianism, and to practice their faith traditions.
I cannot think of a better time for all Americans to stand with Chinese political and religious dissidents of all stripes, whether they are Falun Gong practitioners, Muslims, Christians, or pro-democracy protesters. All Americans, especially the media, should stand for freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of the press. It's not too late to do so.
Brendan Steinhauser is a conservative political strategist and Partner at Steinhauser Strategies. He has a Master's degree in Statecraft and International Affairs from The Institute of World Politics in Washington, D.C. and is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science and Global Studies at St. Edward's University in Austin.
This week I shared my thoughts with The Texas Standard about the special election being held in November to replace outgoing state representative John Zerwas. I explained that Fort Bend County is changing rapidly, and reflects the demographic shift taking place throughout Texas. You can listen to the piece by clicking here.
People have to believe that you care about them, before they will consider voting for you. And the best way to get them to believe that you care, is to show it, again and again. The Republican Party is at a crossroads, and the decisions it makes in the next two election cycles will have a profound impact on the future of the country, and on the party.
Republicans, and their intellectual bedrock, conservatives, believe in maximizing freedom while maintaining order, or as some have called it, “ordered liberty.” Free people should be allowed to pursue their lives, liberties, and happiness without unnecessary government control or regulation. We believe that free markets work better than command economies like socialism, and we can point to centuries of history to prove our point. And we know that traditional family values, two-parent households, and religion, bind civic society and make communities stronger.
All this being said, Republicans must do a better job explaining how these basic principles apply to the American people in their daily lives. And we must demonstrate that not only can we point to data, logic, and facts, but we must demonstrate that we care about people, and want to see every person achieve their full potential. We cannot rely merely upon history, nor persuasive numbers and metrics, but we must also rely upon sharing our true compassion for all human beings, and the daily struggles that everyone faces.
For the Republican Party to win national elections into the future, it must add to its repertoire of campaign issues some of the following: improving health care through a patient-centered approach, lifting up people in poverty through educational choice, ending human trafficking, reducing the scourge of opioid addition, reforming the criminal justice system, and of course, finding compassionate solutions to our border security and immigration problems.
Now, to be clear, this does not mean that Republicans should change our principles or merely pay lip service to these issues. Instead, we must apply our principles and continue to come up with policy ideas that not only uphold those principles, but also serve to fix problems. The good news is that we already have some great stories to tell. In the past couple of years, the administration and Congress have achieved great things on some of the issues mentioned above, including reducing the number of deaths due to opioid addition for the first time in a long time. They have also passed historic criminal justice reform laws like the First Step Act, which is saving lives and money by helping formerly incarcerated prisoners transition successfully to life on the outside.
On these and other issues, our rhetoric must match our actions, or people will not take us seriously. We must talk like we care, and we must act like we care, and most importantly, we must actually care. For the Republican Party to win national elections in 2020 and beyond, we must demonstrate an authentic concern for our fellow human beings, regardless of their backgrounds, religion, ethnicity, or even ideology. Independents are on the rise nationally, and the Democratic Party has a clear advantage looking into the future: demographics. Young people, single women, Asian-Americans, Hispanics, and African-Americans, vote overwhelmingly Democratic. The Republican Party is in danger of becoming merely the party of white males. The demographic changes in this country are clear and stark, and if we do not heed them, we could find ourselves reduced to a regional party that holds some seats in the U.S. House and Senate, but rarely, if ever, the White House. This is not only a political imperative, but a moral one.
Conservatism, in its views on the family and social cohesion, as well as in its upholding the laws of economics, is a superior political philosophy to socialism. History is quite clear on this question, and so are the data. However, the political party most closely aligned with conservatism, the GOP, must make it clear to voters why and how this is so. But it must also prioritize the arguments about how and why conservative ideas and policies are best equipped to lift people out of poverty, deliver a quality education, provide for accessible and affordable health care, reduce crime while saving money, break the tragic cycle of addiction and despondency, and provide for the most vulnerable among us. Conservative principles do all of this and more, and are based on immutable natural law and human nature. But we must explain how and why that is so, and then we must demonstrate these truths with love, compassion, and genuine concern and caring.
If we can re-orient our thinking and our message along these lines, we will vastly improve our chances of winning now, and winning in the future. And when conservatism is ascendant in this country, people are better off, both morally and economically. That is a cause worth striving for, and it demands our full attention and self-awareness. I pray that we are up to the task.
Brendan Steinhauser is a conservative Republican operative in Austin, Texas who has worked in more than forty states on issue and candidate campaigns. He has consulted a number of congressmen, conservative organizations, and individuals. He is a partner of Steinhauser Strategies, a public relations, government affairs, and political consulting firm.
KXAN News 36 interview
I spoke with KXAN News 36 about the importance of using rhetoric that brings people in, as opposed to pushing them away. For the Republican Party to win in 2020 and beyond, we have to show people that we are not only the party of liberty and opportunity, but that we care about people.
I shared my thoughts on the future of Texas politics with The Wall Street Journal.
Texas’ 38 Electoral College votes could shift the presidency to the Democrats for a generation, Republicans acknowledge.
“Democrats have been saying this for a while, and some people have rolled their eyes…but I think people realize now that it’s a serious threat,” said Brendan Steinhauser, a GOP strategist in Austin.
Below is the full article.
After Near-Win in 2018, Democrats Hope to Flip Texas Blue
By Joshua Jamerson
March 11, 2019
DALLAS—Democrats from across the country passed through Texas over the weekend with dreams of reaching the White House, a stark reminder for Republicans that an energized Lone Star State Democratic electorate could help the party take back the presidency next year—and potentially for a generation.
“I’m looking for some blue Texans,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) told a crowd of about 700 people here on Sunday. She told reporters afterward that Democrats can flip the state into their column in 2020 because “people in Texas are fired up.”
For decades Democrats have hoped for statewide success in Texas, keeping an eye on the state’s growing urban areas and surging Hispanic population. Texans haven't sent a Democrat to statewide office since 1994. But Democrats see former Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s close race against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz last year as progress on which they can build in the 2020 fight to oust President Trump. Republicans, for their part, are looking to fortify a longtime GOP stronghold.
Mr. Cruz won about 4.3 million votes to Mr. O’Rourke’s 4 million in 2018, a victory that came by less than 3 percentage points. In the previous midterm election, Republican Sen. John Cornyn earned 2.9 million votes to his Democratic opponent’s 1.6 million—a 27-percentage-point spread.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said the DNC sees millions of Texans who sat out during the 2018 midterm election up for grabs in 2020.
“You get a tenth of those to get out and vote, we can flip Texas,” he said in an interview. “The trend data is in our direction.”
Texas GOP Chairman James Dickey acknowledged Republicans are at risk of losing races in Texas next year.
“By spending at least $80 million in just the Senate race in Texas in 2018,” he said, referring to Mr. O’Rourke, “Democrats improved their numbers down-ballot and awakened Republicans countrywide to the risk that Texas faces in 2020 unless we devote the resources and energy we must.”
Mr. Dickey said the state party hopes to add more than a million additional Republican voters in Texas for the 2020 election over 2018, to beat back Democratic gains. He said Mr. Trump’s policy agenda in Washington would bolster turnout.
A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll last week found that 51% of Texans would definitely or probably vote for someone other than Mr. Trump for president, while 49% said they definitely or probably would vote to re-elect him.Texas’ 38 Electoral College votes could shift the presidency to the Democrats for a generation, Republicans acknowledge.
“Democrats have been saying this for a while, and some people have rolled their eyes…but I think people realize now that it’s a serious threat,” said Brendan Steinhauser, a GOP strategist in Austin.
Texas is also a big prize in the Democratic nominating contest. In the 2016 primary, Hillary Clinton won 147 of the state’s more than 200 pledged convention delegates, compared with 75 for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Comfortable victories in big, diverse states like Texas, California and New York helped Mrs. Clinton put Mr. Sanders away.
“I think it’s time well spent,” Mr. Perez said of Ms. Warren’s stop in Dallas. The Texas primary is on Super Tuesday in March, after the early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.
Several Democrats running for president made a weekend swing through the South by Southwest festival in the liberal hub of Austin, including Ms. Warren, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Mr. O’Rourke attended the premiere of a documentary, “Running With Beto,” a behind-the-scenes look at his 2018 bid.
Mr. O’Rourke said he has reached a decision about whether to run for the Democratic presidential nomination but hasn’t stepped into the already crowded field.
Democrats also have their sights on six GOP-held House seats in Texas, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Twitter last week called “ground zero for us in the next election.” The party’s House campaign arm, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is preparing to dispatch field organizers in the Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio suburbs.
Meanwhile, the House GOP campaign arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee, has identified Texas seats held by Democratic freshmen Reps. Lizzie Fletcher of Houston and Colin Allred of Dallas as top targets to flip back into the Republican column.
Democratic voters here are hungry to see their state turn blue.
At the Warren event in Dallas, Diana Parr, a 74-year-old retired medical lab worker, said a Democrat who can energize voters who, like her, don’t vote in every midterm election can make the state competitive in a presidential race—“Kind of like Beto did,” she said.
Sam Lawson, 73, of rural east Texas, took in the O’Rourke documentary premiere Saturday at Austin’s Paramount Theatre with his wife Laurel Mayer, 67. The couple have volunteered and raised money for Mr. O’Rourke.
“Flipping Texas should be a primary objective for any Democrat in 2020,” Mr. Lawson said.
I spoke recently with Jill Ament of The Texas Standard, a statewide radio show, about the changing demographics in Texas and their impact on the future of Texas politics and government.
“All of these districts were closer than expected and it had a lot to do with the Beto factor, it had a lot to do with straight-party voting, and it also had something to do with long term trends of Texas politically,” says Brendan Steinhauser, an Austin-based Republican strategist.
Steinhauser says looking ahead, his party needs to be taking these close margins seriously because the battlegrounds of the future will be Texas’ suburban and urban areas.
“The demographic trends will continue, the enthusiasm on the left will not abate, and I think that Republicans will have an uphill battle and will have to fight for every last vote in 2020 and especially in the next election after that,” Steinhauser says.
How do Republicans in Texas plan to fight? That’s something Steinhauser says he and other people in his party are trying to figure out. He thinks one step could be moving away from divisive rhetoric and returning to a platform that’s focused on fiscal issues like keeping taxes low, and focusing on transportation, education and healthcare policy.
“These are principles that are well within in the Republican platform and well within the tea party, conservative idea of governance,” Steinhauser says.
I interviewed with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation about the U.S. Senate race in Texas between O'Rourke and Cruz. Watch below.
Brendan Steinhauser is a national political strategist focused on campaigns, media, and public policy.