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Democrats hopeful to take back Texas

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Democrats want to turn Texas blue, and efforts are being ramped up to make that happen.

It's been more than a decade since a Democrat has held a top statewide seat, but as more well-known and well-funded candidates enter the 2010 race, a wave of hope is washing over, and with it could come a national effort.

Organizing for America, an arm of the Democratic Party that evolved from President Barack Obama's campaign, now has built up staffing in Texas, comparable with that of other offices across the nation, including California and Ohio.

"Prior to this, you've never seen an organization like this from the national level come into Texas. So this is definitely a significant step for Texas," Organizing for America-Austin Communications Director Hector Nieto said.

It's a step Democrats hope will help the party regain ground for the 2010 election. Nieto doesn't know the details of the role the organization will play with statewide elections just yet, but said a base will be available to help.

"Texas will have a significant amount of volunteers and organizers on the ground and we will be able to call those volunteers to action at a moment's notice," he said. "I think that says a lot. The fact that a national organization is investing real money in Texas to make certain volunteers and activists stay involved at all levels."

Still, a national organization tied to the Obama administration invites a rapid, almost effortless response from Republicans.

"It's a Washington-led effort on the Democratic side. On the Republican side, it's a Texas-led effort," Bryan Preston, with the Republican Party of Texas, said.

Preston said there's a reason Republican leadership has held strong this long.

While the RPT is working with the Republican National Committee as well as expanding offices across the state, Preston thinks the Democrats' extra efforts will have a minimal effect.

"We have the best handle on what's going on in the state," he said.

A well-known and well-funded candidate like Bill White, however, could help Democrats win back the majority in the State House of Representatives, and a 2011 legislative session where state House and Congressional redistricting will take top priority.

Organizing for America has been in Texas since April, and has, in part, focused on promoting the president's agenda, primarily health care reform.

The majority of offices for OFA are in major metropolitan areas like Austin, Dallas, and Houston. All are cities where President Obama won in 2008.

Republicans are quick to point out that John McCain still took the state, and ending Republican rule is going to be an uphill battle in a red state like Texas.

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