MCALLEN, RGV – Democrats and Republicans made last minute appeals to voters as the midterm election finally arrived.
In Texas, all eyes are on the U.S. Senate race where incumbent Republican Ted Cruz is trying to hold off a spirited challenge by Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke.
The Cook Political Report moved the Senate race from “Leaning Republican” to “Toss Up.”
The Mexican American Legislative Caucus believes political shenanigans are in play in El Paso, O’Rourke’s hometown.
The group, which represents Hispanics in the Texas Legislature, is requesting that the Trump Administration and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection immediately cancel a planned mobile field force demonstration scheduled for Election Day.
The U.S. Border Patrol announced a scheduled demonstration to take place at 10:00 A.M. (MST) at the Paso Del Norte Port of Entry, blocks away from the Armijo Recreation Center, an election day polling location.
In a joint statement, Mexican American Legislative Caucus Chairman Rafael Anchía and Vice-Chair Mary Gonzalez said: “This administration continues to use immigration policy for political purposes. The made-for-media ‘crowd control’ drill, conducted on Election Day, is a cynical effort to suppress the Latino vote in a region seeing record turnout. We demand that the administration immediately cancel tomorrow’s drill.”
Democrats are encouraged by huge turnouts in the big Texas cities of Houston, Dallas and Austin, and their suburbs. O’Rourke needs to carry these cities by large margins to offset a Republican stranglehold in much of the rest of Texas, a reliably deep Red state.
O’Rourke also needs a big turnout in South Texas and along the Texas-Mexico border, which is traditionally Democratic. However, according to a Democratic strategist who wished to remain nameless, that is not happening.
“Cameron, Hidalgo, Nieces and Webb counties are underperforming. Webb has a really bad turnout. They are doing better than four years ago, but not compared to other parts of the state,” said the operative.
“Williamson and Montgomery counties are smaller than Hidalgo but actual turnout is higher in those Republican counties. A lot of people in the Valley are patting themselves on the back but the turnout is not there.”
If the increase in turnout is not as high among Hispanics, some national political observers say they know why.
Discussing Hispanic turnout not matching that of other demographic groups, David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report, told MSNBC’s Morning Joe program: “There is some fear in those communities over voting.”
Andrea Mitchell of NBC agreed. “There is a fear of having any connection to the government. Whether you are legal or not, you are just afraid of the government right because of all this border stuff.”
Alberto Morales is project coordinator for AACT Now, a non-partisan group set up to encourage heavily Hispanic Rio Grande Valley residents to exercise their constitutional right. He said: “Today, vote to give your family a better quality of life. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Go vote and encourage others to vote. Let’s show our great country that South Texas has a Voice a Very Loud Voice.”
Two state senators in Texas made their case for their respective parties.
Bryan Hughes, Republican state senator for Mineola, said:
“Liberal Democrats in Dallas, Austin, and Houston broke turnout records for a mid-term election. Millions of dollars from California and other liberal states have been flooding into Texas to mobilize Democrat voters. They are energized and angry,” Hughes said, in news release issued on the eve of the election.
“We all know what will happen if they have their way, they’ll roll back Voter ID, the Sanctuary Cities Ban, and everything Republicans have achieved to make Texas the number one job-creator in the nation. Democrats have told us what they want: open borders, higher taxes and more access to abortion. They don’t care about our Second Amendment rights or our Texas values.”
This is the last major election in Texas where straight ticket voting is allowed. Hughes urged Republicans to take advantage of it.
“It is absolutely critical that we go to the polls and vote straight ticket Republican. Please pass this along to your friends, family and everyone you know and tell them to vote for every Republican up and down the ballot,” Hughes said.
“I wouldn’t be sending you this message if I didn’t believe that your vote is essential. Even if you’ve already voted, please talk to your family and friends and co-workers and impress on them the urgency of the situation. The future of Texas depends on it.”
For the Democrats, state Sen. José Rodríguez of El Paso, delivered this eve-of-poll message:
“This election is simply too important to sit out. We have a real chance to change course from the negativity of the current administration, which has vilified immigrants, reduced access to affordable health care, and created a climate of division. In Texas, we can bring state government closer to balance, so we can prioritize issues like education and health care, real needs that the Legislature has failed to address. Too much time has been spent trying to give away public school funding to private interests, targeting the LGBTQ community, and harming Texas immigrant families,” Rodríguez said.
“In Texas, and across the country, this is not who the majority of us are – we want government to work on solutions, not be a tool to sharpen divisions among us. Now is the time to show we can be better. I’m confident that, with your help, we will send that resounding message.”
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above story shows U.S. Senate candidates Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz.