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Democrats Make Final Push For Voter Turnout In Texas In Hopes Of Flipping The State Blue

Local Rio Grande Valley residents turn out to watch Kamala Harris event at UTRGV in Edinburg
Reynaldo Leaños Jr.
Local Rio Grande Valley residents turn out to watch Kamala Harris event at UTRGV in Edinburg

There’s been a record turnout of voters in Texas. The number of ballots cast during early voting has already surpassed the total turnout of voters from the 2016 General Election.

This high turnout has Democrats hopeful that this could be the year Texas turns blue, and the Biden campaign spent the weekend trying to further mobilize the Texas electorate to come out and vote.

Texas hasn’t gone blue during a presidential election for several decades now, but Democrats wasted no time trying to mobilize voters in the state to turn out.

Senator Kamala Harris made three stops in the Lone Star State on Friday, including one in the Rio Grande Valley.

A Biden-Harris supporter at a get out the vote event at UTRGV in Edinburg where Senator Harris spoke
Reynaldo Leaños Jr.
A Biden-Harris supporter at a get out the vote event at UTRGV in Edinburg where Senator Harris spoke

Harris deplaned in McAllen at around 3:30 p.m. and was asked why the Biden campaign chose this region.

“Because there are people here who matter, people who are working hard, people love their country, and we need to be here and be responsive to them. So that’s why we are here, because there are lots of important people in South Texas,” she said.

Harris then boarded a vehicle and headed to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg in a motorcade for a get-out-the-vote event in a parking lot.

Upon arriving at the university, there were dozens of Donald Trump supporters with flags and signs. Several videos on social media showed them chanting things like “U.S.A.” and “four more years.”

Before Harris took the stage, Former Housing Secretary Julián Castro and his brother Congressman Joaquin Castro addressed the excited crowd of Biden and Harris supporters.

While on stage, Harris wasted no time criticizing President Trump’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and told the audience that reporting from journalist Bob Woodward showed that Trump knew how serious the virus was since January.

“And can you imagine Rio Grande, what you would have done on January 28 if you had known what the president had known,” she said. “What you as a frontline worker, what you as a parent, what you as a teacher, what you as a small business owner would have done if you had known on January 28.”

Kamala Harris speaks at a UTRGV event
Reynaldo Leaños Jr.
Kamala Harris speaks at a UTRGV event

Harris also went after the Trump administration for trying to get rid of Obamacare during the pandemic.

“Donald Trump and his boy Bill Barr are in the United States Supreme Court suing to get rid of the Affordable Care Act that brought healthcare to over 20 million people, including protecting people with preexisting conditions,” she said. “Honk if you know anybody that has diabetes. Honk if you know anybody that has high blood pressure, lupus, breast cancer.”

Harris closed the event by telling the audience that one day their children and grandchildren will look them in their eyes and ask them, what did they do in this moment of the Trump administration?

“And what we are going to tell them is that we were hanging out at UT Rio Grande Valley this Friday afternoon on the last day of early voting,” she told the crowd. “We will tell them we organized, we will tell them we brought people to vote, we will tell them we told people to vote, we will tell them what is at stake, we will tell them we reminded people of the ancestors and the responsibility and commitment to them. We will tell them that we elected Joe Biden President of the United States.”

The Biden campaign’s visit to the Rio Grande Valley was fairly calm, but videos surfaced on social media later that day which showed vehicles with Trump flags boxing in a Biden campaign bus in Central Texas. The Biden campaign canceled multiple events after the incident, and the FBI is investigating.

Loren Haskins Alonzo of McAllen said when he saw the video, it made him uneasy.

“I’m kind of terrified about what is going to happen this Tuesday and afterwards, you know, what the repercussions are going to be,” he said. “Or what’s going to happen when we don’t know who wins immediately. I’m pretty fearful of more conflict happening.”

Luz Cruz has already seen some of that violence unfold.

She’s also from the Rio Grande Valley and has been counter protesting against Trump supporters who have held Trump trains for several weeks now. She said recently things escalated between protestors when a Trump supporter swung a taser at a counter protestor and someone else had their foot run over.

Cruz said she, too, is worried about how people will react to election results, but is hopeful that Biden will win. She said she was glad the Biden campaign stopped in the Valley.

“Personally, I wished they would have come (earlier), not a couple of days before the election because there’s not a lot of voter turnout in south Texas,” she said.

Henry Flores, professor emeritus of political science at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, said historically that leadership from both the Republican and Democratic Parties haven’t paid too much attention to the Rio Grande Valley, but he said he sees that changing moving forward and envisions more visits by campaigns, like those that the Biden campaign had recently.

“Both political parties are very much aware of the Demographic change,” Flores said. “The majority of Gen Zers are minority groups and the vast majority of that minority group are Latinos and the political professionals are very much aware of that and so they’re going to be speaking to that particular cohort quite a bit.”

This weekend, the valley continued to experience a full court press from Democrats.

Former congressman and presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke went door-knocking on Friday in Mission.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others made 96,000 get-out-the-vote calls to South Texas voters on Saturday and more than 2.6 million calls on Sunday.

DNC Chair Tom Perez, also made stops in Brownsville, Laredo and Corpus Christi while President Trump recently said that he doesn’t consider Texas to be a battleground state.

“Texas, we’re doing very well,” Trump said to reporters on Friday. “It’s going to be the same thing as last year, in fact, I think that last term, I think you asked a question last time, too. Texas is looking very close, and I won it by many many points.”

The majority of polls show Trump and Biden neck-in-neck, with Trump holding a slight lead.

An NBC News poll recently declared Texas a toss-up state.

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Reynaldo Leaños Jr.