Page 1


Signs of the times: yard signs in the Harris County coordinated campaign’s west-side office. TURNING HOUSTON BLUE CAN THE DEMOCRATS SWEEP HOUSTON? story & photos by DAVE MANN 8 THE TEXAS OBSERVER OCTOBER 17, 2008 ou normally don’t think of Houston as a bastion of Democratic Party politics. For years the city has been dominated by the oil industry and the GOPthey’ve often seemed one and the same. Houston gave us George H.W. Bush, Tom DeLay and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, and some of the nation’s most prolific Republican campaign donors call the city home. Democrats are hoping to overcome that profile. They’re pouring tons of money into a campaign to transform the Houston area into a Democratic stronghold they hope will help swing future state and national elections. Their goals aren’t small. Many within the party believe Houston is the key not only to recapturing Texas for Democrats but also to putting the state back in play in presidential elections. All of which makes Houston one of the most important battlegrounds in the country this year. That may sound grandiose, but to understand the Democrats’ strategy, you have to consider that Houston is essentially its own swing state within Texas. Harris County, which encompasses the city and its suburbs, is home to 3.9 million people, outnumbering the populations of 23 states, and is roughly the same population as Oregon. Now consider that Harris Countyin theory, at leastis already Democratic. Surveys