Big Labor Is Going to Mess With Texas

The AFL-CIO’s president promises a greater focus on the Lone Star State.

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Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO

Count the AFL-CIO among the progressives trying to turn Texas from a solid red state to a purple or even blue one.

Speaking to reporters this morning at a breakfast organized by the Christian Science Monitor, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka cited Texas as a state where he plans to step up organizing activities. "We'll be in Texas in a bigger way than we have been," Trumka said.

After the 2012 elections, Texas emerged as the top item on Democrats' demographics-driven wish list. The Lone Star State became majority minority some time during the last decade, according to Census Bureau figures. With Democrats dramatically outperforming Republicans among Hispanics (38.2 percent of Texans) and blacks (12.3 percent of Texans), it seems to be only a matter of time before cracks appear in the GOP lock on the state, which is critical to the party's electoral chances.

Indeed, some top Democrats have made a point of trying to accelerate Texas' move into the ranks of swing or blue states. For example, 270 Strategies' Jeremy Bird, who was President Obama's field director last year, is heading up an effort dubbed "Battleground Texas," which, Bird told Politico in January, aims to "make Texas a battleground state by treating it like one."

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Republican Party.]

Trumka neatly summed up the Democrats' view of Texas' vulnerability this morning: "Texas is a majority minority state yet minorities are denied right now, effectively, the voice that they should be entitled to," he said. "We also think there needs to be more union people in the state of Texas so we're going to go and give that a try. … We have not given it the proper attention I think it deserves. So we will be giving it more attention in the future."

More broadly, Trumka identified several Republican governors who will be the recipient of unfriendly organized labor attention, including Michigan's Rick Snyder, Wisconsin's Scott Walker (he of the union-busting fame), Ohio's John Kasich "and several other that have been hostile toward working people or have been hostile toward democracy itself [and so] are going to get heightened focus," he said.

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