Journalists track Texas’ movement from red to purple


Aaron Berecka

Erica Grieder, Harvey Kronberg and Ross Ramsey take part in the Texas Politics Speaker Series on Wednesday afternoon in the Gebauer Building. All local journalists, the three discussed the upcoming gubernatorial election and the shifting of Texas voter demographics.  

Christina Breitbeil

A group of political journalists discussed the possibility that Texas could become a “purple” state — or one that swings between voting Democratic or Republican — in the 2014 election cycle at a panel Wednesday afternoon.

The race for Texas governor between Democratic candidate state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, and Attorney General Greg Abbott, served as the panelists’ prime example of the ongoing evolution of the Texas political landscape.

Erica Grieder, a senior editor at Texas Monthly, said she feels Davis has the potential to re-invigorate a Democratic voting base in the state.

“I do think she is the best chance for Democrats in the past 10 years at least,” Grieder said. “She was thought to run and involved in the race before the filibuster, so she already had a [campaign] profile.”

The discussion, hosted as part of the Texas Politics Speaker Series, centered around key factors shaping the outcome of the gubernatorial elections, including a potential split in the Republican party between fiscal and social conservatives, which might open the door for Democrats to gain a more prominent voice in Texas politics.

Ross Ramsey, executive editor of The Texas Tribune, said only about 10 percent of the Texas Republican Party voted in the November 2010 gubernatorial election, which meant more moderate Republicans were not represented by their more conservative elected officials.

“The question for Davis in this coming election is not is this a viable candidate or is this a good candidate, but is the [Republican] electorate ready for this [Democrat] candidate,” Ross said.

Grieder said Davis is an interesting candidate because she is so publicly identified with a single issue.

“What’s been different about Wendy Davis is that she came into the race with wide statewide and nationwide notice, so as journalists we can’t say a thing about Wendy without it becoming a statement on abortion,” Grieder said.

Harvey Kronberg, editor and publisher of The Quorum Report, served as the other panelist, while James Henson, government professor and director of UT’s Texas Politics Project, served as moderator.

Nutrition sophomore Andrea Garcia was among those observing the panelists’ discussion, and said she thought the event was a wonderful opportunity to learn more about political ideology.

“I wanted to take advantage of this event because it’s a group of prestigious journalists, and I specifically wanted to hear their opinion as Wendy Davis’ presence in the race will affect the outcome of the election, as I am interested in her winning the election,” Garcia said.