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You want to be President, you’ve got to come to Houston

And so they are.

No Democratic candidate for president has won Texas in over 40 years, and yet the flow of Democratic contenders coming through the state, and Houston specifically, has been unusually strong in 2019.

Just since March, 14 of the Democrats running for the White House have already appeared at 26 different events in Houston. And that’s before 10 of the top contenders return on Friday afternoon to take part in a two-hour presidential campaign forum organized by the National Education Association.

“This is where the action is,” said DJ Ybarra, executive director of the Harris County Democratic Party. “This is where you need to be.”

For sure, Texas presidential primary elections loom large on March 3, especially as Democratic strength at the ballot box has grown in Harris County. But another reason is money.


The surge in fundraising in Houston mirrors what has happened at the ballot box. In 2004, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry lost Harris County by more than 100,000 votes. Four years later, Barack Obama won Houston by just over 19,000 votes. Even though she lost the state, Hillary Clinton won Harris County by 161,000 votes in 2016. Last year, in his U.S. Senate race, O’Rourke won Harris County by over 200,000 votes.

The dramatic shift of Harris County from a red county to blue is a major reason some politicians and pollsters are wondering if Texas is close to turning blue. According to a Quinnipiac University survey of Texas in early June, President Donald Trump trailed Biden by four percentage points. The president had 44 percent of the vote compared to Biden’s 48 percent.

Texas also plays a big role in the Democratic primaries. After the traditional first four states (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina) vote in February 2020, Texas will be next up along with 14 other states voting on Super Tuesday March 3. If those first four states haven’t decided the race, Texas and its haul of delegates will put those who have been cultivating Harris County votes in a prime position.

I skipped over the money stuff because I’m more interested in the votes. Here’s a little table to consider:

Year      Harris     State    Harris%
2008 P   407,102  2,874,986     14.2%
2008 G   590,982  3,528,633     16.7%

2012 P    72,665    590,164     12.3%
2012 G   587,044  3,308,124     17.7%

2016 P   222,686  1,435,895     15.5%
2016 G   707,914  3,877,868     18.2%

2018 P   157,121  1,042,914     15.1%
2018 G   700,200  4,045,632     17.3%

The numbers represent Democratic votes cast. As I’ve said before, I fully expect the 2020 primary to be like the 2008 primary, but more so. I think the over/under right now is for three million votes, which means we’re looking at something like 500K Dem primary voters here in Harris County. The Texas race is for sure going to separate the contenders from the (many, many) pretenders. So yeah, if you want a shot at the nomination, you’d better come to talk to Democratic voters in Harris County. There’s far too many of us to ignore.

(This doesn’t have anything to do with the main thesis of this post, but I want to state it for the record anyway: Hillary Clinton got more votes in Harris County than she did in 23 states plus Washington, DC. Harris County has about as many people as the state of Louisiana, so if we were our own state we’d have eight electoral votes. Put that in your Juul and vape it.)

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  1. It doesn’t matter if you are Democrat or Republican having the Political parties feel like they must come to Houston is great for Houston. I was very very proud to see a debate at my ALMA MATTA U.of H. Goo Coogs.

  2. Manny says:

    We have something in common, but the campus is not the same I attended in the late 60’s early 70’s.

    Saw Warren there this past Friday.

  3. Paul Kubosh says:

    Manny, do you think the campus is better or worse. Asking for a friend.

  4. Manny says:

    Paul when I went to law school there, there was a bar where the law students used to go and drink a few after classes. That was in late 70s early 80s, it seems so large and impersonal now, but I would have to spend some time there. The student center was a place where we went to enjoy some food and shoot the bull.

    Prior to attending U of H, I attended Oklahoma State University, there place to hang out were the bars where all the students went. Drinking law was 21 but students could drink if they showed their OSU ids. I liked UofH more because of the more personal atmosphere of the campus. My grades reflected that as when I left OSU I had a 3.6 grade point, I graduated with a 3.2.

  5. Paul Kubosh says:

    I remember that bar. It closed in 92 or 93. I never went to it though for no other reason then I just didn’t take the time to go there. You should go back to the campus. The Quad’s that I lived in (Settagest Hall) is gone. There are thousands of people living on campus now. Three of them are my children. So I am very very biased as an alumni and proud parent. Sometimes I eat at Tilman Fertitta places out of respect for what he has done at U. of H. Its not a commuter school anymore.