by Betty L. Martin
HOUSTON, June 27 (Xinhua) -- In what political experts promise to be a close U.S. Presidential election this November, newly revived Texas Democrats and Republicans are both planning big wins in the 2012 election.
After the conclusion of the Texas Democratic Party convention earlier this month in Houston, the fourth largest city in the U.S., the state party's immediate past deputy executive director Anthony Gutierrez said the convention attended by hundreds of thousands gave a much-needed boost to Democrat morale. "Seeing all the people gathered in one place getting together and seeing what's working will give us some hope in our fundraising efforts," Gutierrez said.
However, for Democrats to gain even a loose grip on Texas, much less the nation, there is much to overcome, since Texas Democrats have lost every statewide race since 1994.
One reason Texas Democrats may face trouble in their bid to help re-elect President Obama is sheer numbers: The Republicans have 307 total delegates and alternates, making the Texas delegation to the Republican National Convention the second largest delegation in the country. That compares with the Democrats' 287 delegates and 22 alternates in the state.
Another reason Obama may race neck-in-neck in November with his Republican rival Mitt Romney is that after the president's three and a half years in office, the bleak picture of job-growth and the sluggish economy haven't rallied as many Americans had hoped.
In a report issued on June 1 by John M. Galvin, acting commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate has changed little since January, holding at or near 8.2 percent in May.
"The number of unemployed persons, at 12.7 million, also changed little in May," the report states. "The proportion of the unemployed who had been jobless for 27 weeks or more was 42.8 percent. Among persons who were neither working nor looking for work in May, 2.4 million were classified as marginally attached to the labor force, up from 2.2 million a year earlier."
The number of "discouraged workers" -- people who want a job, were available for work and had looked for a job within the last 12 months -- accounted for 830,000 in May. That figure, the report states, is relatively unchanged from the previous year.
At the Republican Party Convention in Fort Worth this month, Republicans in sync with more right-wing, anti-government views and Tea Party alliances were heard booing Texas Gov. Rick Perry's support for more moderate candidate David Dewhurst. Dewhurst and Perry, who opened the convention, later claimed the audience was cheering for "Dew," not saying "boo".
Several Republican delegates, however, noted that their support will go to far-right-wing candidates like Presidential candidate Ron Paul, whose speech -- unlike the "unity" theme of his convention message -- rallied the Tea Party faction, some of whom cried out for a "President Paul".
The Democrat's inclusive, two-pronged approach -- traditional grassroots rallying of the party faithful combined with an Internet-based fundraising targeting the state's Hispanic population -- is already beginning to make a positive difference, Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez is the project director of one of those efforts, the Promesa Project, a program to engage the state's Latino college students and older voters in getting out the vote for the Democratic Party in primaries across the state.
The outreach program incorporates daily updated Facebook " friends" addresses and has student fellowship leaders in place at eight universities with heavy Hispanic student and community populations.
"It's been in the works for about a year now. In the first initial stages, we've been meeting with key elected officials and stakeholders, the idea being that young Hispanic voters are more versed in using the Internet Gutierrez said.
The fellowship's email membership, which has jumped from about 3,000 to 300,000, is looking forward to this year's national election, Gutierrez said, especially with Gilberto Hinojosa, the new Texas Democratic Party chairman elected by convention delegates and first Hispanic to hold the top position.
Hinojosa believed that with whites at less than half of Texas's population and with the traditional Democratic base of Hispanic population on the rise, demographics are in the Texas Democratic Party's favor.
There is a need to consolidate that base, an area in which Texas Democrats have been remiss, he said. While Democrats have paid lip service in the past three decades to uniting its minority and progressive base, Republicans have strengthened in the Texas House to a 102-48 majority and have swept the state Senate, Congress and state education board.
As Democrats fight to hold onto their elected positions and add at least 10 lawmaking representatives, including four new congressional seats, the effort will be boosted by a federal court redrawing of the state's political districts that better reflect the state's diverse population. But many Texans, Hinojosa said, have seen the Republican Party's extreme move to the right and its hold as the dominating party has disillusioned many Texans.
Among them is Paul Hailey, a Democrat who attended the convention in Houston.
"The Dems are about protecting and empowering all Americans with the knowledge that there are many factors which affect American lives as they try to succeed," Hailey said. "The Reps are about protecting and empowering only the wealthy with the belief that the individual has total control over their lives as they try to succeed."
In her welcoming address at the Houston convention, Houston Mayor Annise Parker said Democrats will win in November. They will re-elect Obama by showing the strength of the party's ideas, and inclusion of conservative, independent and progressive voters, she said.
"Many conservatives are more worried by the Tea Party and what it is doing to their Republican party than they are about Democrats," Parker said.
Answering the Tea Party's anti-taxation ideal of little to no government, Parker said government is the mechanism that provides for the common good by transforming people's lives through essential services and provides the mechanism for life-saving regulation.
People are called on to care for those without the means to care for themselves, she said, as well as safeguarding the environment. Democrats must believe in the essential rightness of their cause and must be passionate about what they stand for, just as the Tea Party is passionate about what they are against, Parker said.
"We must set aside our differences, stop complaining about the challenges we face, band together and take our solutions straight to the voters. That is how Democrats win," she said.