Texas blues

Even George W. Bush's home state may not be safe for the GOP anymore -- Republicans are reportedly worried about losing a Senate seat there.

Published January 15, 2009 3:15PM (EST)

What a difference a few years makes. Even during the anti-GOP climate of last year's campaign, you'd have been hard pressed to find someone who seriously believed the Democrats could make a real play for one of Texas' Senate seats. But now, Politico reports, Republicans are asking Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison to remain in her post and not run for governor -- they're worried her retirement could be the key piece of the puzzle for Democrats looking to get a 60-seat super-majority in the Senate.

In part, the concern is that the GOP would have to expend precious resources defending what should be a safe seat, resources that they'll need both to prevent losses in swing states and to have any shot at capturing a Democrat's spot. But there is a certain amount of worry that the party could actually lose Hutchison's seat if she runs for governor, and besides -- the idea that Republicans would have to spend money on a Senate race in Texas would have been crazy earlier this decade.

This could be the first sign of a very real danger for the GOP. The state has been a stronghold, and considering its 34 Electoral College votes, it's a vital one. But several experts I spoke to for an article I wrote in November about the Hispanic vote said they believed the state's sizeable Hispanic population could make Democrats a real force in Texas within the next decade. "The future's bright in Texas," Cuauhtemoc "Temo" Figueroa, the Obama campaign's Latino vote director, said. "Whether in four years or whether in eight years, I do see potential there in Texas, because of just the sheer magnitude of the numbers."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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Kay Bailey Hutchison R-tex. Texas