February 14th, 2008
02:31 PM ET

Hispanic voters and black candidates: it's not what you might think

I've noticed some issues with news coverage of demographic voting patterns in Texas.

First, Hispanics make up 36% of the population in Texas, yet are 20% of all registered voters. We need to get a better sense of what percentage Hispanics will make up among Democratic voters and in potential turnout.


Some reporting suggests that Hispanic voters don't trust black elected officials in Texas and never have. But if you look at the record, you'll find that's not necessarily so. For instance, when Tony Sanchez ran as governor of the state in 2002, yes, he got 87% of the Hispanic vote. But in South Texas, he beat Rick Perry by only 52% to 46% percent, and that's an Hispanic stronghold.

When Ron Kirk ran for U.S. Senate in 2002, he won 74% of South Texas. In fact, he was in a runoff with Victor Morales, a San Antonio schoolteacher who ran strongly against Phil Gramm for the U.S. Senate seat in the previous election, and beat him 59.7% to 40.3%. The mayoral elections of Ron Kirk in Dallas and Lee Brown in Houston, both African Americans, showed significant Latino support, and Texas hasn't had the Latino clashes that we've seen in California.

Lastly, Texas is an open primary. The state is seen as Bush country, but in this primary, independents will be major, as well as potential GOP crossover.

Just some thoughts about my native state...also known as God's Country.

-Roland S. Martin, 360° Contributor
Program note:  “Uncovering America: Race, Gender and Politics” airs Friday on 360° at 10p ET

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