AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Two Mexican-American Democratic lawmakers launched a new political action committee on Thursday to mobilize Hispanic voters in Texas.
State Reps. Trey Martinez Fischer and Ana Hernandez Luna unveiled the One Texas PAC, with Martinez Fisher 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's outcome, Martinez Fischer told The Associated Press. The group's strategy of directly engaging voters sets it apart from other advocacy groups, he added.
"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 Texas Legislature.
Non-Hispanic whites make up less than half of the state's population, and Hispanics are the fastest growing group in Texas. Both Democrats and Republicans are trying to recruit more Hispanics into their ranks, but Hispanic voters here go to the polls in small numbers compared to their population's size and compared to other states. For example, eligible Hispanic voters in Texas turnout at half the rate of Hispanics in California.
Martinez Fisher 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," 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 Hispanic politicians who defected from the Democratic Party, including state Rep. J.M. Lozano who is running for re-election in South Texas.
Hispanics have traditionally voted Democratic in Texas since the 1960s, but Republicans hope that the party's social conservatism will attract more Hispanics in the future.