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Party Leaders Reflect On The Political Year That Was, And What To Expect In 2020

Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT
2019 was a busy year, politically speaking. And 2020 will likely top it, given that a presidential election is on the horizon.

From Texas Standard:

This has been a busy year, politically speaking. And 2020 will likely top it, given that a presidential election is on the horizon. With that in mind, Texas Standard host David Brown spoke with the leaders of the Texas Republican and Democratic Parties to learn about their top takeaways from this year – and what they expect in the year to come.

James Dickey, chair of the Texas GOP, says, more than anything, Republicans helped strengthen Texas' economy in 2019.

"The Texas economy, once again, boomed," Dickey says. "We have shown for 15 amazing years in a row that thanks to Republican leadership and thanks to Republican policies, every single Texan's life is better."

Dickey says the scandal involving House Speaker Dennis Bonnen was "unfortunate," but not the most important event for Republicans.

When it comes to voters, Dickey says neither party can afford to take them for granted.

"Texas was never as blood-red as people liked to assume," he says. "We've only had control of the Texas House for 16 years."

He says the Republican strategy right now is to go on the offense. Nonetheless, he says it's unlikely Democrats will take over the statehouse in 2020, which some political watchers have predicted.

As for the impeachment of President Donald Thump, Dickey says he expects it to work in Republicans' favor.

Gilberto Hinojosa is chair of the Democratic Party of Texas, and says though Julián Castro and Beto O'Rourke competed unsuccessfully on a national stage in the presidential race this year, their candidacies still helped the state's Democratic cause.

"They will be in the game as people that are participating to ensure that Democrats are elected in this state at every position," Hinojosa says.

While the Dennis Bonnen scandal hasn't changed the Democratic strategy, Hinojosa says, it did help Party members.

"It helps us that the Republicans are in disarray, that they're fighting each other, that their top leader [who] would have been their top fundraiser, is out of commission now," he says.

If Democrats succeed at flipping the Texas House in 2020, Hinojosa says it will be because the Party is better organized than in years past. But also because Republican gerrymandering has worked in Democrats' favor, in some cases, and because people from Democratic-leaning places like California and New York are moving to Texas.

Plus, he says Democrats are energized by the prospect of defeating President Trump in 2020.

Beyond that, he says Democrats stand for expanding access to health care, more public- and higher-education funding and addressing climate change. These are the issues that he says will attract Democratic votes.

Written by Caroline Covington.

Rhonda joined KUT in late 2013 as producer for the station's new daily news program, Texas Standard. Rhonda will forever be known as the answer to the trivia question, “Who was the first full-time hire for The Texas Standard?” She’s an Iowa native who got her start in public radio at WFSU in Tallahassee, while getting her Master's Degree in Library Science at Florida State University. Prior to joining KUT and The Texas Standard, Rhonda was a producer for Wisconsin Public Radio.
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