Senator John Cornyn, whose fealty to President Trump remains unshakable, has been entrenched since 2002. Before Greg Abbott was elected governor in 2014, as state attorney general he used to brag about getting up in the morning and suing the Obama administration. (“I go into the office, I sue the federal government, and I go home,” he famously said.) And before Mr. Abbott there were just over 14 years of Gov. Rick “Whoops!” Perry, more recently departed as secretary of the Energy Department after learning on the job since 2017.
Maybe I am out of touch, but a candidate who calls himself a democratic socialist, promises to end fracking and savages oil companies wouldn’t seem to be the likely savior of Democratic politics in Texas. In fact, in 2016, Mr. Sanders lost to Hillary Clinton by more than 30 points here.
You could argue, as some do, that with so many candidates scrapping over the middle, it makes sense that Mr. Sanders, in the 20 percent-plus range, has the biggest total. You could say that after Mr. Biden’s strong stand in the South Carolina primary, things could change.
But let’s consider the surprising, if short-lived, Beto O’Rourke phenom. It suggested the existence of an untapped pool of left-leaning voters here — you may recall that the obscure if charismatic El Paso congressman came within about 219,000 votes of Mr. Cruz with a combination of young voters, Latino voters and newly registered voters (Mr. Cruz won in a squeaker, 50.9 percent to 48.3 percent). Some of the same people who engineered Mr. O’Rourke’s rise — but not his fall — are former and current Sanders organizers who postulate that Texas isn’t a Republican state but a nonvoting state.
It’s also a rich state with a lot of poor people, many of whom are part of an ever-expanding Latino population. The Legislature’s commitment to improving schools and preserving the environment (much less providing protections from climate change) remains desultory at best. Texas still has the highest number of residents without health insurance — about 17 percent — which makes a Medicare for All promise pretty enticing. As a community organizer put it, “Our problem is not the employment rate, it’s the poverty rate.”
This content was originally published here.