DALLAS (CBS11) – As the new year approaches, Texas politics in 2018 is heating up.
Monday evening is the deadline for most candidates in the state to file their paperwork to run for office.
In one of the most visible races next year, the Governor’s race, nine Democrats are vying for the primary to challenge Republican incumbent Greg Abbott.
Political analysts say the two frontrunners are former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and Andrew White, the son of former Democratic Governor Mark White.
During his announcement, Andrew White told supporters, “I’m a common sense Democrat, and I can beat Governor Abbott.”
Domingo Garcia, President of Tejano Democrats, disagrees. “I think she’s going to win the primary for sure. I think he has a base in Houston. I think some of the old moderate Democrats in Houston will support him, but I think Lupe has a bigger base.”
Garcia believes her base of support is bigger because it includes Latinos and others in the progressive wing now dominating the party.
But SMU Political Science professor Cal Jillson says White could give Valdez a run for the money and can’t be overlooked. “I think Andrew White is going to have more success with early fundraising. Lupe Valdez is considered by progressive Democrats to be the future of the party. Not her personally, but a Hispanic surname candidate.”
While analysts say Democrats need Latino support, Governor Greg Abbott received 44% of the Latino vote in 2014.
During her announcement, Valdez mixed Spanish in with English saying, “I’m stepping up, Estoy obligada for Texas.” and “We always had faith. Siempre teniamos fe.”
Jim Henson, Director of the Texas Politics Project at UT Austin says to beat Abbott, Democrats will have to win back some Latino voters. “Try to get the Republican number down under 40 percent if you can. The other thing which is much harder is to mobilize the non-voting Latino base. This is something Democrats have worked on in past cycles with some very limited success.”
Henson says that is typically difficult to do that during a non-presidential election year, but Jillson says Democrats are hoping their strong feelings against President Donald Trump will attract enough people to the polls.
Both Jillson and Henson agree, it will be very difficult for Democrats to unseat any Republicans in statewide offices, but may have more success in down-ballot races in Dallas County, which is heavily Democratic compared to the other counties in North Texas.