With just days left before Election Day, the Democratic Party is saturating the Rio Grande Valley with well-known Democrats — a strategy culminating with a visit from vice presidential candidate, Kamala Harris, on Friday in McAllen.
The U.S. senator’s visit to the Valley will be one of several in Texas by big-name Dems this week, including a visit by brothers Julian and Joaquin Castro and Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez.
Details about the time and place of Harris’ visit have not yet been confirmed.
In the Valley, Harris, of California, is coming to a predominantly blue region where Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said 70% or 80% of the vote is expected for Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden in the upcoming election.
The strategy behind selecting McAllen for a last-minute visit has more to do with what’s considered a dormant voting population in the Valley.
“While we may be a Democratic community primarily in this state — probably one of the most Democratic communities in this state — we’re a low-voting community,” Hinojosa said Wednesday. “I think one of the reasons why Sen. Harris is coming to South Texas is to increase the enthusiasm in the final days of the election.”
Recent polls show President Donald Trump and Biden nearly even in Texas. The last time a Democratic presidential candidate won Texas was in 1976, and that was Jimmy Carter.
This year, Texans are leading in overall voter turnout in the country, according to the U.S. Elections project. Democrats are seeing this attentiveness to the election by voters in the Lone Star state as a positive for the party.
“If there is an increase in turnout in the Rio Grande Valley, that means that the chances increase significantly for Biden to win the state of Texas and the Biden-Harris campaign to get the electoral votes that we have,” Hinojosa said.
While the visit to the Valley may have the effect of reenergizing lagging local support, it could work to reawaken memories in the minds of Americans who have heard this region mentioned in other prominent national conversations.
Hinojosa said the pandemic and its effects on access to health care and the impact to the economy will be a priority to mention for Sen. Harris.
The spike in COVID cases drew media attention from major news networks who visited Starr County after the then-health authority, Dr. Jose Vazquez, spoke about rationing life-saving equipment.
In Hidalgo County, a binder’s worth of documentation was compiled by DHR Health when a nurse’s complaints of overtaxed COVID-19 wards went viral.
Harris’ visit will come one day after acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf’s scheduled “celebration” in Hidalgo of the completion of 400 miles of new border wall, a campaign promise Trump made in 2016.
Hinojosa said he believes her stop will include talks of “a comprehensive immigration reform to protect the DACA students, to provide citizenship for the 12 to 19 million undocumented immigrants living in this country today, (and) how she will make sure that our refugee system is human and people don’t have to wait in this squalor of makeshift camps in Mexico.”
As of Tuesday, overall turnout in Texas is 48% of registered voters. That’s in comparison to the 58% of registered voters who cast a ballot in the 2016 election. In a week, Democrats will find out if this strategy was successful in motivating voters to the polls.