AUSTIN — Two Mexican-American Democratic lawmakers launched a political action committee Thursday to mobilize Hispanic voters in Texas.
State Reps. Trey Martinez Fischer of San Antonio and Ana Hernandez Luna of Houston unveiled the One Texas PAC, with Martinez Fischer pledging to match the first $50,000 in donations.
The PAC will concentrate on supporting Hispanic candidates for the Texas Legislature, engaging Hispanic voters and mobilizing them in districts where they can make a difference in an election, Martinez Fischer told The Associated Press. The group’s strategy of directly engaging voters sets it apart from other advocacy groups, he said.
“I want to talk to people because I believe if they understand what we stand for, they will realize there are people fighting for them,” said Martinez Fischer, chairman of the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus in the Legislature.
Hispanics make up 37.6 percent of the state’s population, a larger percentage than Anglos, and are the fastest-growing group in Texas. Both Democrats and Republicans are trying to recruit more Hispanics into their ranks, but Hispanic people in Texas vote less compared with their population size and compared with other states. For example, eligible Hispanic voters in Texas turn out at half the rate of Hispanics in California.
Martinez Fischer said the new PAC hopes to get out the Hispanic vote by pointing out the stake they hold in Texas’ future. Demographers expect them to be the majority by 2020.
“Texas is running out of water and energy, our roads are deteriorating, and the next generation of Texans who have to face this reality will be less educated and in poor health,” Martinez Fischer said. “Apparently, our alleged pro-business Republicans think it is more important to attend Tea Party rallies than confront this reality. One Texas will change that.
Gov. Rick Perry has led efforts to make the Republican Party more attractive to Hispanics. He appointed the first Hispanic female to the Texas Supreme Court and the first Hispanic ever as secretary of state. He has welcomed many formerly Democratic Hispanic politicians, including state Rep. J.M. Lozano, who is running for re-election.
Hispanics have traditionally voted Democratic in Texas since the 1960s, but Republicans hope for gains.