The presidential campaign of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is expanding its footprint in Texas, setting up a statewide office and expanding its staff with just under four months until the Democratic primary.
In the next few days, the campaign plans to open a Texas headquarters in Austin — among the first known outposts of a presidential campaign in the state besides that of native U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. The office will be located on the city’s east side.
The campaign’s Texas effort is being overseen by Jacob Limón, a legislative staffer and former official at the state Democratic Party. Limón, who was recently named Sanders’ Texas state director, is being joined by six other paid staffers in the state: David Sanchez, North Texas director; Cristina Garcia, Rio Grande Valley director; Theresa Haas, Houston director; Samantha Davis, operations director; Ananda Tomas, San Antonio director; and Sergio Feliciano Cantú, Latino outreach director.
Sanders supporters were introduced to the Texas staff during a meeting Tuesday night in Austin, where they were given a goal of 850,000 phone calls over the next three weeks to identify more Sanders backers. Zack Exley, a senior adviser to the Sanders digital team in Vermont, told the nearly 200 people who showed up to the meeting that they will have to go above and beyond to help him win the March 1 primary in Texas.
Early, scant polling has found Sanders badly trailing Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in Texas, where her involvement in state politics dates back to the 1970s. The former secretary of state has not neglected Texas in her second bid for the White House, holding two campaign events in the state — her next one is set for Tuesday in Dallas — as well as several fundraisers. She has also locked up the support of well over a majority of Texas Democrats who serve in the state Legislature and Congress.
While presidential candidates have been paying more attention than usual to Texas due to its relatively early primary, few have opened offices in the state beyond Cruz, whose campaign is based in Houston.
Good for Sen. Sanders. I don’t claim to be on Team Bernie, but I approve of what he’s doing here. Hillary Clinton’s campaign has had some presence in Texas for a few months – and for what it’s worth, I get a ton of email from her campaign, and have yet to hear anything from Sanders’, not that I’m asking for more email in my inbox – but nothing compares to boots on the ground. Along those lines, I trust that Sen. Sanders will follow Clinton’s example and make his data available to the TDP and county parties once the primary is over. In the meantime, I wish his campaign the best of luck.