AUSTIN, Texas — The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has its sights set on Texas.
The DNC announced its third presidential debate will be held in Houston on September 12 and, if needed, September 13.
The announcement signaled politics in the Lone Star State are changing – and politicians on both sides of the aisle are noticing.
Wednesday morning, U.S. Senator John Cornyn's campaign sent an "urgent" fundraising email stating Texas is no longer considered "solid Republican."
But what warrants an "emergency response fund" from one side is seen as an opportunity by the other.
"The Democrats want to contend in Texas," said Ross Ramsey, executive editor and co-founder of The Texas Tribune. "And even if they don't contend in the presidential race, they want to contend in congressional races and in legislative races."
Ramsey said the DNC wants to engage Texas voters and donors and not lose the momentum the party gained in the 2018 midterm election when then-congressman, now presidential candidate, Beto O'Rourke came just three points away from defeating U.S. Senator Ted Cruz.
"The Democrats got very hopeful and the Republicans got scared," Ramsey said. "And looked at this thing and began to wonder if what had been a reliably red state was now maybe edging into purple and maybe is contestable."
To qualify for the September debate, the candidates must have at least 2% support in four polls, a minimum of 130,000 unique donors and 400 unique donors per state in at least 20 states by August 28.
Bringing the candidates to Texas will certainly get attention and energize voters on both sides as the nation inches closer to an election that will determine whether Texas really is the next battleground state.
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