Houston is apparently the place to be for Texas politicians searching for votes. We've always been big, but we've never been popular. What's different this year?
But Houston has been the biggest voter-trove for years without getting as much attention. Other factors also enter this year's picture. Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan, who also worked for former Gov. George W. Bush, said Houston reflects the rest of the state: a multiethnic collection of voters.
While Dallas has sizable shares of African-American and white voters, and San Antonio has white and Hispanic voters, Houston has large shares of all three. And Houston has influential groups whose heritages extend to Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere.
If a candidate's message works in Houston, it has a good chance of working statewide.
That becomes increasingly important as the state's population continues to shift from rural areas to urban ones.
"Houston is becoming a microcosm of Texas," Sullivan said. "It has a large business sector, vibrant ethnic groups and a range of workers, from the Ship Channel to the high-tech industry."