Elizabeth Warren has a head start in building an organization designed to win delegates in the Texas presidential primary.
The March 3 Super Tuesday contest could help determine the course of the Democratic Party presidential race, and Warren hopes her ground game and ties to Texas will help her compete at a high level.
The senator from Massachusetts has been organizing in the state since August. Warren was the first non-Texan presidential candidate to hire a Texas campaign director. With an office already open in San Antonio, Warren will also have satellites in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and the Rio Grande Valley.
“The entire goal is to talk to as many people as possible and get them engaged in the process,” said Jenn Longoria, the Texas director for Warren’s presidential campaign.
In a University of Texas-Tyler poll this month, Warren trailed former Vice President Joe Biden in the Lone Star State. The poll was conducted after former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of El Paso ended his bid for president.
O’Rourke’s, Texas’ favorite son, had been dueling Biden at the top of most surveys. Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont have also polled well in Texas, while former San Antonio mayor Julian Castro has struggled to win support in his home state.
Warren hopes her organization and connections to Texas helps her win here on the ground.
This year she’s made at least six visits to the state, including Dallas. She’s a graduate of the University of Houston and taught at the University of Texas.
“Elizabeth isn’t a stranger to Texas. She lived here for 10 years. She taught here. Her kids went to school here,” Longoria said.
There are 262 delegates at stake in the Texas primary, and many of those will be awarded on a proportional basis. Since the formula for winning delegates is not winner take all, numerous candidates in the field could walk away with support.
Biden has hired a Texas director, political consultant Jane Hamilton of Dallas. He also has the backing of U.S. Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas and Marc Veasey of Fort Worth.
Political analysts say the Texas primary will be competitive.
“There’s an opportunity in Texas and right now it’s wide open,” said Kathy Nealy, a political consultant who worked for the presidential campaigns of Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. “You have to put troops on the ground. You have to have a strong presence in Texas, if you want to win it.”
Warren’s team includes Jess Moore Matthews, a data specialist tasked with mobilizing the Dallas area.
In 2008 Texas was the scene of a tactical primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Clinton won the popular vote, which helped revive her campaign. But Obama won more delegates and went on to win the nomination and the White House.