Obama Fundraisers Little Help for Texas Democrats
President Barack Obama’s whirlwind tour of Texas left supporters energized and afternoon traffic snarled on Tuesday. But it didn’t necessarily help out Democrats running for office in Texas this fall.
The president’s campaign expected to collect more than $3 million from donors at events in San Antonio and Austin yesterday. And the people in Austin were ecstatic about the chance to help fund the President’s re-election bid.
But do they also support local Democrats?
“Not financially yet,” said Austinite Paula Klante, who was attending the president’s fundraiser at the Austin Music Hall.
She’s not alone. It takes thousands of Obama supporters to raise the millions he collects from Texas. But the vast majority of those donors are not to giving to Democrats running for local and statewide offices.
Take the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination to the U.S. Senate, Paul Sadler. He’s only raised $85,000 so far for his campaign. Klante says after the president’s appearance, she’s ready to looking into those state candidates.
“This kind of speech certainly motivates you to get more involved and look at the broader picture here in Austin,” she said.
It’s not just a matter of Texans giving money to Texas candidates. The Democratic National Committee was raising money alongside Obama yesterday as well. That money is going to be shipped to the far corners of the country to help Democrats in tight races against Republicans. This gets us back to the old chicken-and-egg problem for Democrats in Texas. They won’t raise money until their candidates show they can win a race. But can you win a race without any money? Melody Dawson is a party leader from Rockdale. She knows the money is there – and says the support could be too.
“I think what we need to do is to educate the voters that are voting for Obama,” Dawson said. “This huge packed room ought to be at every single Texas Democratic Party — everything. They really don’t know what’s at stake.”
For Obama’s part, yes he’s taking money out of Texas to spend in Ohio or Colorado. But when he was elected in 2008, his coattails and the increased voter turnout he generated in Texas missed giving control of the Texas House to Democrats by just two seats. So while in Austin, he did what any good politician would: He fed the crowd applause lines and reminded them of the hot topics in Texas to get them excited about voting in November, like women’s health care and immigration.
“When you have young people in this country who have been raised as Americans, who believe in America, then I want to give them a chance to succeed here in America,” said Obama. “It’s the right thing to do.”
Whether more Democratic donors in Texas will do right by their state candidates is another question.