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Off to the Races

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We might as well get clear about a few things right up front. For starters, why Purple Texas? Because this is about today’s Texas politics. Not the gummint-bashing, pistol-waving, Jesus-praising kind that turned the state beet red in the ’90s and early ’00s. And not the blue-state utopia that so many dreamy Democrats, convinced that demographics are destiny, see when they close their eyes and imagine the future. The subject here will be Texas politics in a time of turmoil and transition. It’s a time when the Republicans’ brief spell of dominance looks doomed—especially as long as the party continues to follow Gov. Rick Perry’s tax-cutting, corporation-loving, whites-only roadmap to irrelevance. It’s a time when Democrats—mostly thanks to the GOP’s spectacular failure to govern effectively—appear to be poised for a gradual-but-steady climb back to the preeminence they enjoyed from Appomattox to Ann Richards. It’s a time when the state cannot be accurately color-coded red or blue. We’re purple, people. And unlike those dreamy Democrats, I believe we’re going to stay that way for quite some time to come. For the next 14 months, I’ll be reporting on, poking fun at, and trying to make sense of Texas’ 2010 campaigns. I’ll post plenty, of course, on the great ugly grudge match between Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. I’ll give you the latest on the special election to fill Hutchison’s U.S. Senate seat—a contest that is shaping up to be a fascinating, wide-open free-for-all. I’ll update you on the Democrats’ attempts to retake the state House—and to hold on to the districts where they unseated Republicans in 2008. And I’ll do my damndest to shed some much-needed light on the important statewide races that will be largely ignored by reporters and pundits who just can’t get enough of the Rick and Kay Show.Don’t the wrong idea, now. This will not be yet another blog about horse-race politics. I promise you that I won’t be obsessing over polls and quarterly fundraising reports and inside baseball. You can find that stuff in a billion other places. I mean to keep my eye on the bigger picture: not what’s happening, but what it means. And not just what it means to the futures of Texas Republicans and Texas Democrats, but what it means to regular old, rank-and-file Texans—most of whom, understandably enough, couldn’t care less about party politics.

While the future political drift of Texas is anybody’s guess, one thing’s certain enough: We’re embarking on one of the most unpredictable and entertaining political seasons in a long time. It’s going to be one hell of a ride. So hop aboard and buckle up.