Texas Republicans: A model of diversity?


Ever since Politico unleashed a hyperbolic story over the weekend titled (hyperbolically) “GOP’s new diversity push,” there’s been a mini-boomlet of strange tales about how the increasingly white, increasingly old, increasingly wealthy Republicans were changing their ways and “fielding an unusually diverse crop of statewide candidates.”

Politico’s Alexander Burns set the tone, enthusing that the party was poised to give itself a “dramatic facelift,” especially among the “seemingly endless list of constituences the GOP lost in 2008—notably women, Latinos, African Americans, Asian Americans and young people.”

Texas, you will be interested and perhaps amused to learn, was prominently cited as one of the states in which the Republicans were conjuring up a new Rainbow Coalition all their own. The evidence? Certainly not statistical trends showing blacks and Latinos in Texas turning away from the party in mounting numbers. No, the proof was as follows: “Under the right conditions, the GOP could end up in 2011 with female governors in the two largest states in the nation—California and Texas. Or with a black senator from Texas…”

Of course, in the event that Kay Bailey Hutchison became governor, Texas would almost certainly replace her in the Senate with a man. The only non-white man with a prayer of becoming a U.S. Senator is indeed a Republican, Railroad Commissioner Michael L. Williams.

“Prayer” is the operative word when assessing Williams’ chances. Williams is a talented and rousing stump speaker, and an ideological conservative any way you slice it. But he’s raised next-to-nothing through many months of talking himself up as a Senate hopeful. And both Attorney Gen. Greg Abbott and Lite Guv David Dewhurst (whose announcement that he’ll run for re-election doesn’t preclude a Senate nod from Gov. Perry) are stronger bets, with state Sen. and talk-radio host Dan Patrick a long-shot who might get Perry’s appointment—and brief incumbent status before the free-for-all election to fill Hutchison’s seat.

And you can bet that Sen. John Cornyn, who doesn’t want the embarrassment of losing his own state’s Senate seat as chairman of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee, will use any muscle he can muster to make sure the party picks a candidate perceived as fabulously “electable.” That won’t be Michael L. Williams.

I don’t know about you, but if the slim odds of Hutchison unseating Perry and a little-known black Republican winning a U.S. Senate seat are being used to argue that Republicans are getting more diverse, I’m falling a little short of being convinced. At some point, the Republicans will have to get serious about appealing to their lost constituencies; they simply won’t be able to win otherwise. But that point hasn’t quite come in Texas. The Texas GOP is not, despite this spate of silly “diversity” stories, looking ahead boldly and preparing for demographic reality to catch up with it.