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Turning Texas Blue: What It Will Take to Break the GOP Grip on America's Reddest State

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In the 2014 midterm election, Democrats in Texas did not receive even 40 percent of the statewide vote; Republicans swept the tables both in Texas and nationally. But even after two decades of democratic losses, there is a path to turn Texas blue, argues Mary Beth Rogers - if Democrats are smart enough to see and follow it. Rogers is the last person to successfully campaign In the 2014 midterm election, Democrats in Texas did not receive even 40 percent of the statewide vote; Republicans swept the tables both in Texas and nationally. But even after two decades of democratic losses, there is a path to turn Texas blue, argues Mary Beth Rogers - if Democrats are smart enough to see and follow it. Rogers is the last person to successfully campaign-manage a Democrat, Governor Ann Richards, to the statehouse in Austin. In a lively narrative, Rogers tells the story of how Texas moved so far to the right in such a short time and how Democrats might be able to move it back to the center. And, argues Rogers, that will mean a lot more of an effort than simply waiting for the state's demographics to shift even further towards Hispanics - a risky proposition at best. Rogers identifies a ten-point path for Texas Democrats to win at the statewide level and to build a base vote that would allow Texas to become a swing-vote player in national politics once again. One part of that shift starts with local Democratic candidates in local Republican communities making the connection between controversial local issues or problems and the statewide Republican policies that ignore or create them. For example, in a 2014 election in Denton-a Republican suburb-voters approved Texas's first ban on hydraulic fracking. The next day, though, a Republican Texas agency official announced that Texas would not honor the town's vote to ban. No democratic candidate picked up the issue. Change won't come easily, argues Rogers. But if Texas shifts to even a pale shade of purple, it changes everything in American politics today.


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In the 2014 midterm election, Democrats in Texas did not receive even 40 percent of the statewide vote; Republicans swept the tables both in Texas and nationally. But even after two decades of democratic losses, there is a path to turn Texas blue, argues Mary Beth Rogers - if Democrats are smart enough to see and follow it. Rogers is the last person to successfully campaign In the 2014 midterm election, Democrats in Texas did not receive even 40 percent of the statewide vote; Republicans swept the tables both in Texas and nationally. But even after two decades of democratic losses, there is a path to turn Texas blue, argues Mary Beth Rogers - if Democrats are smart enough to see and follow it. Rogers is the last person to successfully campaign-manage a Democrat, Governor Ann Richards, to the statehouse in Austin. In a lively narrative, Rogers tells the story of how Texas moved so far to the right in such a short time and how Democrats might be able to move it back to the center. And, argues Rogers, that will mean a lot more of an effort than simply waiting for the state's demographics to shift even further towards Hispanics - a risky proposition at best. Rogers identifies a ten-point path for Texas Democrats to win at the statewide level and to build a base vote that would allow Texas to become a swing-vote player in national politics once again. One part of that shift starts with local Democratic candidates in local Republican communities making the connection between controversial local issues or problems and the statewide Republican policies that ignore or create them. For example, in a 2014 election in Denton-a Republican suburb-voters approved Texas's first ban on hydraulic fracking. The next day, though, a Republican Texas agency official announced that Texas would not honor the town's vote to ban. No democratic candidate picked up the issue. Change won't come easily, argues Rogers. But if Texas shifts to even a pale shade of purple, it changes everything in American politics today.

30 review for Turning Texas Blue: What It Will Take to Break the GOP Grip on America's Reddest State

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Lancaster

    TEXAS POLITICS Mary Beth Rogers Turning Texas Blue: What It Will Take to Break the GOP Grip on America’s Reddest State St. Martin’s Press Hardcover, 978-1250079084 (ebook also available), 256 pgs., $26.99 January 19, 2016 Mary Beth Rogers ran the last campaign that put a Democrat in the Texas governor’s mansion, the late Ann Richards. That was 1990. Since then Rogers, retired from the campaign trail, has watched aghast as “ordinary, business-oriented, conservative Republicans morph into crackpots and TEXAS POLITICS Mary Beth Rogers Turning Texas Blue: What It Will Take to Break the GOP Grip on America’s Reddest State St. Martin’s Press Hardcover, 978-1250079084 (ebook also available), 256 pgs., $26.99 January 19, 2016 Mary Beth Rogers ran the last campaign that put a Democrat in the Texas governor’s mansion, the late Ann Richards. That was 1990. Since then Rogers, retired from the campaign trail, has watched aghast as “ordinary, business-oriented, conservative Republicans morph into crackpots and blustery buffoons” leaving “a path of political destruction and debris” in their wake. Fed up with waiting for the cavalry (“Democratic cleanup crew”) to arrive, Rogers studied the history of Texas politics, analyzed recent campaigns, and devised a ten-point plan to put Democrats back in state government. The result is Turning Texas Blue: What It Will Take to Break the GOP Grip on America’s Reddest State. Combining amusing, occasionally snarky commentary with a firm grasp of the facts, Rogers addresses the numbers, strategy, and Big Themes, invoking Václev Havel, Twyla Tharp, Willie Nelson, and Royal Dutch Shell. She dissects the Battleground Texas experiment and the debacle of the Wendy Davis campaign. Rogers’s analysis is elementary for anyone who’s been paying attention but is a terrific primer for newcomers to the Texas political arena. Her history of the rise of the Republican Party in Texas (blame FDR, LBJ, Dallas, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Ronald Reagan) is comprehensive and engaging for veterans of the scene and new recruits alike. Rogers posits a theory that the election of Ann Richards and her push for inclusiveness actually helped to bring about the current state of affairs by challenging the status quo and the “most powerful economic interests in the state,” thereby sparking a backlash from traditional power bases. “The essence of conservative politics in modern life has always been to reclaim what is lost, or is about to be lost, if power slips away. That’s what happened in Texas in the 1990s. It has happened repeatedly since then.” Rogers contends that what begins in Texas is the concern of the entire country because “there is something in the atmosphere here that convinces politicians that they should be president of the United States.” While she convincingly blames Texas for the Tea Party (Dick Armey) and Congressional gridlock due to gerrymandering (Tom DeLay), her assignment of responsibility for the Koch brothers (Karl Rove) is more tenuous, and the case for tort reform (“43”) draining Democratic coffers is an inspired conspiracy theory, even brilliant if true. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you. Also, No Child Left Behind education legislation (ibid). She gives Democrats hope by analyzing how Dallas, once the “most reactionary Republican city in Texas,” turned blue using microtargeting and invading areas once solidly red, such as suburbia, by intelligently utilizing new demographic trends. In the final chapter, Rogers writes a memorandum such as she used to write for Ann Richards, proposing a “New Texas Way” in ten steps and detailing how to achieve it. Turning Texas Blue will inspire weary, disillusioned Texas Democrats to don the armor again. And that’s an accomplishment.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Monty Mitra

    Good summary of the rise of the GOP in Texas and a quick review of the GOP's movement to its extremist far right. As a Texas native (who plans to return one day), I followed Wendy Davis's race with some excited attachment and was surprised by her astounding loss. After reading this, I'm surprised she even entered the race (not surprised she was heavily encouraged to do so). I'm surprised that the Democrat party's strategies haven't changed at all in the face of continual loss. I'm surprised that Good summary of the rise of the GOP in Texas and a quick review of the GOP's movement to its extremist far right. As a Texas native (who plans to return one day), I followed Wendy Davis's race with some excited attachment and was surprised by her astounding loss. After reading this, I'm surprised she even entered the race (not surprised she was heavily encouraged to do so). I'm surprised that the Democrat party's strategies haven't changed at all in the face of continual loss. I'm surprised that their strategies don't include tactics that proved effective during Ann Richard's win. Rogers's proposed gameplan to win more elections seems like table stakes. That the Texas Democratic party are not effectively doing these things is insane. Rogers lays out a case that there is a path but the Democrats needs to get more organized and strategic to make it happen.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bill Cryer

    A great analysis from one of the finest political minds in Texas Mary Beth Rogers, who spent decades in the trenches of Texas Democratic politics presents us with a thoughtful look at the fault lines that run through the Texas Republican Party and how a re-energized Democratic Party can --should--exploit those chasms. She also provides a delightful synopsis of Texas political history of the past 75 years. It's a history worth remembering: Texans remain central to national political debates, and A great analysis from one of the finest political minds in Texas Mary Beth Rogers, who spent decades in the trenches of Texas Democratic politics presents us with a thoughtful look at the fault lines that run through the Texas Republican Party and how a re-energized Democratic Party can --should--exploit those chasms. She also provides a delightful synopsis of Texas political history of the past 75 years. It's a history worth remembering: Texans remain central to national political debates, and for better or worse, will remain so for the rest of this ill-starred century. Texans are largely responsible for some of the most horrifying episodes of the past 16 years and maybe, if Mary Beth's prescriptions are followed, Texans can atone and lead the nation back to sanity.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    We got this book at our local bookstore following Mary Beth's lecture. The book was interesting and gives a historical context as to why TX is turning out wackos and crazies like Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, and our current governor Greg Abbott. It also gave an insider's explanation of why Wendy Davis' gubernatorial run was a disaster. It's a good read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    I pretty much never give one-star reviews - at least not to books I actually finished - but geeeeeez. The title and subtitle of this book are aggressively misleading. I'm still wondering "what it will take" because the author sure didn't have any ideas. A huge percentage of this book consists of Texas political history, which would be interesting if it did a better job of connecting the lessons learned from history to the future. But frankly the author seems more interested in talking about the I pretty much never give one-star reviews - at least not to books I actually finished - but geeeeeez. The title and subtitle of this book are aggressively misleading. I'm still wondering "what it will take" because the author sure didn't have any ideas. A huge percentage of this book consists of Texas political history, which would be interesting if it did a better job of connecting the lessons learned from history to the future. But frankly the author seems more interested in talking about the figures in that history whom she knows personally. I don't blame the author for wanting to write about these things, but as the pages in my right hand dwindled and we hadn't even broached the topic of "turning Texas blue" yet, I was feeling kind of antsy. The author doesn't really even get into the topic that the book is ostensibly "about" until it's almost over, and it's pretty uninspiring. I'm not sure how you write a book about changing Texas's political future without ever talking about combating voter suppression, but here we are. Anyway, spoiler alert: one of her key points is "find the right candidate." Another is "have that candidate find the right vision." Inspiring stuff. There's other weirdness in here that almost made me jump out of my chair with bafflement - I'm going to get this quote wrong but at one point she advocates that Democrats reach out to "long-neglected moderate corporate executives." Because Lord knows if there's one group that Texas politics has left behind, it's those down-on-their-luck execs. Anyway, displeasure is often about the gulf between expectation and reality, and if I'd known this was largely a book about Texas political history, I might not have been so annoyed. But they gave it a title that is really only applicable to a small fraction of the book, because they knew that would get me to pick it up and possibly buy it. Joke's on y'all, I borrowed it from the library. (The joke is actually on me for reading it.)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Richard Edwards

    It was an interesting read. The author is clearly a Democrat operative. Her recounting of how Texas went from a Democrat stronghold to Republican stronghold is accurate and insightful. As a conservative Texan like Kay Bailey Hutchison, I am distressed at the current state of both political parties. The only way for good government to return is BOTH parties to silence their extremists. I am unsure that Texas Democrats can follow her advice. For that all Texans are impoverished.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Katie Bell-Moore

    As a Democrat living in Texas, I'm always interested when someone promises they have the plan to Turn Texas Blue. I was only 10 when Ann Richards won her last election but have fond memories of that time. To read her campaign managers ideas was a no-brainier for me. Mary Beth Rogers provides an historical bent to the story that is lacking in just about every other book, thesis, article or blog post about fixing Texas. She frequently suggests learning from the GOP's rise from obscurity to control As a Democrat living in Texas, I'm always interested when someone promises they have the plan to Turn Texas Blue. I was only 10 when Ann Richards won her last election but have fond memories of that time. To read her campaign managers ideas was a no-brainier for me. Mary Beth Rogers provides an historical bent to the story that is lacking in just about every other book, thesis, article or blog post about fixing Texas. She frequently suggests learning from the GOP's rise from obscurity to control in Texas and a long historical perspective is needed for that. Battleground Texas is vilified by Rogers. There is no doubt that Battleground made mistakes, didn't deliver on promises, and was a big disappointment to all the politically aware Dems, but I felt she blamed them for all the problems in 2014. I think the party infrastructure, candidates, and Battleground share responsibility for those failures. I also think that Battleground might have success down the road if they talk to more people who've been around Texas awhile like Mary Beth. I'm not sure I buy into everything Rogers recommends in this book, but I buy into a whole lot of it. My one problem was that I wished the book has less of a Dallas focus and spent more time around the state. Needless to say, I've already saved her 10 strategies to turning Texas blue in my iPhone.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ian yarington

    Very interesting. I live in a solid blue state and places down south are somewhat of a mystery to me. One thing that I don't understand is the Latin vote and it was good to read a little bit about the Latin vote and what it will mean in the coming elections. I take for granted sometimes the fact that I live in a place that mirrors my political views, I feel sorry for anyone that leans left that has to be in a place that can't get 40% of the vote!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Merely ok, I thought. Some interesting personal narratives about how Texas went from solidly conservative Democratic government to a deep Republican dominance with one major exception- the governorship of Ann Richards, for whom the author served as campaign strategist. The political prognostications are actually less interesting and involve usual analyses of demographics, political messaging, GOTV strategy, etc.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Brent

    This is a sordid tale of a history of bigotry, racism, and xenophobia in Texas. Although at various times and places this history was overcome, at least for the rest of the decade this prevailing attitude seems to overwhelming in Texas politics with the tea party still showing strength in the state political system.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bryan Stone

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tom Fornoff

  13. 5 out of 5

    Susan Ennis

  14. 4 out of 5

    Misty Irby

  15. 5 out of 5

    Logan Kline

  16. 5 out of 5

    Julie Lowenberg

  17. 5 out of 5

    Fatima

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

  19. 4 out of 5

    Joni

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany Smith

  21. 4 out of 5

    Bryan

  22. 4 out of 5

    Damian Murray

  23. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  24. 5 out of 5

    Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

  26. 5 out of 5

    John

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jan Houston

  28. 4 out of 5

    Merrick

  29. 5 out of 5

    Joann

  30. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

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