Democratic presidential primary candidates put forth final effort in Texas

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Photo Credit: Alice Liu | Daily Texan Staff

Democratic presidential primary candidates visited Texas to make their final case to voters ahead of Super Tuesday.

Remaining candidates former Vice President Joe Biden, billionaire Michael Bloomberg, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren are each looking for which state they will focus on going into Super Tuesday, when 14 state primaries will take place. 

Joshua Blank, manager of polling and research at the Texas Politics Project, said Texas has the second largest amount of delegates, but it can be a difficult state for candidates to focus on. A large part of investments are dependent on how candidates did in earlier races, such as New Hampshire and Iowa, Blank said.

“(Candidates are) thinking about where they’re most likely to be successful, but they’re also looking at the expense of success,” Blank said. “Texas is a difficult state because Texas is so large. It has so many large and expensive media markets.”

Blank said candidates did not initially focus on Texas because Texan candidates former Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Julian Castro, former Housing and Urban Development secretary, were running earlier in the race. Blank said Elizabeth Warren was the exception, setting up field offices in Texas early in the race, followed by Bernie Sanders.

According to the Dallas Morning News, Warren has made nine appearances at Texas events since the beginning of 2019. Warren has offices in Austin, Houston and San Antonio. Katya Ehresman, UT Students for Warren member, said she has seen Warren’s involvement with Texas through her endorsements of local candidates, such as that of José Garza, Travis County district attorney candidate.

“The first thing that I really noticed when starting to observe Warren’s campaign in Texas is that she was not only investing in infrastructure really early, but she was the first campaign to hire any Texas state staff as well as create offices in Texas before anyone else, except for Julian and Beto,” government junior Ehresman said.

Sanders visited Texas cities 13 times, according to the Dallas Morning News. Sanders has opened five offices in Texas. Kaya Epstein, UT Students for Bernie member, said since Sanders’ rally in Austin on Feb. 23, the organization has seen an increase in support on campus. She said Texas is ready for a candidate like Bernie.

“Texans don’t want to be living in a state where they’re not taken care of,” biology freshman Epstein said. “There’s a stigma around Texas being (the state where) we want our independence; we want our freedom. We want those things, but we also want to be part of this country … in a way that means we are giving to this country but also getting back from it.”

Biden and Bloomberg have also had a presence in Texas. Biden opened four field offices in Texas, while Bloomberg has almost 20, 11 of which were opened in February. Blank said Biden has been less active than other candidates during the primary process and that Bloomberg’s spending is consistent with his overall campaign strategy.

“(Bloomberg) is extremely active in Texas both in terms of spending money on ads, opening field offices, hiring staff,” Blank said. “It’s not a Texas-specific strategy for Bloomberg. That’s just the Michael Bloomberg strategy.”